Accuracy in Media

At BuzzFeed News, all eyes were focused on the Republican response to the impeachment vote in the House of Representatives. BuzzFeed published two articles quoting Republican lawmakers during the impeachment debate, attempting to portray Republicans as out-of-touch and ready to engage in conspiracy theories.

The House voted 230-197 in favor of charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and 229-198 on obstruction of justice. There were some defectors among the Democratic Party: Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) voted against both articles of impeachment, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted for one article, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) voted present for both articles. After last night’s impeachment votes, which passed along party lines, the impeachment proceedings moved to the Senate.

BuzzFeed News’s first article ran with the headline, “Republicans Are Comparing Trump’s Impeachment To Jesus’ Crucifixion, Pearl Harbor, And The Salem Witch Trials.” In it, BuzzFeed quoted a Republican lawmaker’s quote that the impeachment proceedings were unjust and unfair, similar to the trial of Jesus Christ in the Bible. Another Republican lawmaker compared the impeachment vote to the Pearl Harbor attacks. It mentioned Trump’s comparison of the impeachment vote to the Salem witch trials, and included a rebuttal from Salem’s mayor on social media.

The second article focusing on Republicans added to the perception that Republicans were out-of-touch with the headline, “Forget Trump — Hillary Clinton Took Center Stage In The Impeachment Debate.” The article accused Republicans of being unwilling “to take on the details of those charges [of impeachment],” despite past statements from GOP officials and surrogates on the charges of obstruction and abuse of power.

Both articles unfairly focused on the Republicans’ response to impeachment, without including many of the impeachment-related quotes from Democratic Party lawmakers. For example, upon winning election in the 2018 midterm elections, Rep. Rashida Tlaib told an audience that the Democrats will “impeach the [expletive],” which comment was caught on video. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) has made multiple statements on impeachment, in addition to other Democratic Party lawmakers who claimed that American democracy is in peril and danger due to the Trump presidency.

Neither did the articles cover Democratic Party lawmakers’ floor speeches during last night’s impeachment debate, which was an example of unbalanced coverage on the part of BuzzFeed News. Also, the articles failed to quote the dissenting lawmakers on the impeachment vote, such as Peterson, Van Drew, Golden and Gabbard. Instead, the reader was subjected to Republican lawmaker quotes that aimed to portray them as out-of-touch and quick to engage in conspiracy theories.

Photo by Public Citizen

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