Accuracy in Media

One of the major criticisms of the Trump presidency, and even his 2016 presidential campaign, was that Donald Trump was too quick to dismiss the media and media reports as “fake news.” Trump’s use of the phrase offended the mainstream media, but the media continued to report poorly-sourced news and added credibility to Trump’s popular phrase.

BuzzFeed News, which has been a target of criticism from the political Right due to its reporting subjects and its liberal bias, published an article about an alleged handshake snub between the U.K.’s Prince Charles and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.  The article’s headline was, “Did Prince Charles Snub Mike Pence At A Holocaust Remembrance Event? An Investigation” and it was centered around both leaders’ attendance at a Holocaust remembrance event in Jerusalem, Israel.

A video depicted Prince Charles walking by Pence, where the prince made his way down the line of dignitaries and did not shake hands with Pence or Pence’s wife, Karen.

The article immediately debunked its own narrative at the beginning, which was odd because it almost told the viewer not to take the subsequent information seriously. It cited a video where Prince Charles allegedly snubbed Pence, but both the White House and Buckingham Palace “denied anything shady occurred.”

The use of the word “shady” implied that a snubbed handshake was of dubious honesty or legality. It is questionable why BuzzFeed News used the word “shady” when it referred to a handshake between world figures. Shady is often used when there are questionable legal issues, such as business dealings or political maneuvers, but not about an allegedly snubbed handshake. BuzzFeed News appeared to overplay its hand in describing the alleged handshake controversy.

BuzzFeed also cited several tweets from observers on Twitter — far from citing reputable sources of information. BuzzFeed News used tweets from liberal author Jason Overstreet and radio host Darren Lethem to make its case. Later in the article, BuzzFeed shared a video tweeted by Pence’s press secretary, demonstrating that the two men shook hands after the event and spoke for a brief moment.

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