Update, 10:49 p.m. Eastern: Michael Moore and Emad Burnat detail exclusively to The Atlantic Wire what Buzzfeed got wrong.
Update, 10:22 a.m.: Buzzfeed has issued a correction on their story, which acknowledges that they used a single source:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referred in its deck and first sentence to "sources" at LAX; in fact, as the body of the story made clear, the criticism of Moore's account came from a single airport official.
This update from their reporter, Tessa Stuart, has disappeared from the site:
"We're still reporting on it," Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith told The Atlantic Wire in an email. We've reached out to the Academy, Burnat (through his distributor), and Moore himself, about the incident.
Original post: Someone's not telling the truth about what happened to Oscar-nominated director Emad Burnat at Los Angeles International Airport last week, and for now, Buzzfeed appear to be on the losing end of this one.
Yesterday, Buzzfeed threw cold water on the story of Burnat—the co-director of the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras—who, according to his own statement, was held along with his family at immigration for 90 minutes, because officials didn't believe he was nominated for an Academy Award. (It didn't help that Burnat is Palestinian and his wife was wearing a hijab.) At the time Moore tweeted frantically about Burnat's story, including his own name-dropping role in getting Burnat released.
Buzzfeed's Tessa Stuart wrote a one-source story challenging that version of events and insinuated that the whole thing was a publicity stunt for Moore and the film. The crux of Stuart's argument was that Burnat's delay was because he was briefly unable produce a missing Oscar ticket, and that Moore was making a big deal of what is standard customs protocol. Stuart wrote:
That account is much different than what Moore and Burnat have said regarding the event. According to Moore, Academy lawyers were called in because immigration officials did not think the Oscar invite that Burnat produced sufficed. Stuart added:
Stuart's story doesn't include quotes from Burnat's own account of events, nor does it mention trying to get in touch with him, the Academy, or the Academy's lawyers who allegedly got involved and got Burnat into the country. Also, the piece includes the insinuation that Moore, who said he had helped Burnat by calling the Academy, was parlaying the event into media appearances.
Moore, being Michael Moore, did not take this standing down. There's a lengthy and monstrous Twitter rant on his feed which includes some burning tweets, like this one:
Tessa Stuart of Buzzfeed has lied about the Palestinian filmmaker detained at LAX and I can prove it. Tessa, I'll give u an hr to correct.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 26, 2013
And this too:
Feel bad for you, being snookered by Homeland Security. Re-read your story and look for the clue of how u got used. #journalismisdead— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 26, 2013
Here's where it seems like Moore knocks it out of the park. Stuart and her source's account or alleged media-whoring tomfoolery hinge on the narrative that Burnat produced an Oscar ticket, which eventually got him into this country. As Moore points out, that was impossible:
Nobody, no nominee, had their tickets on Tuesday because the Academy didn't release them to Oscar-goers until 2 days later -- on Thursday.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 26, 2013
And some salt was rubbed in wounds:
So that's just an outright lie. Completely fabricated and easy to disprove with 1 call to the Academy. But why do that?...— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 26, 2013
Moore wasn't finished:
PS. An Academy official just emailed me: "Absolutely no one had physical possession of an Oscar ticket on Tuesday." Not Clooney, not Burnat.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 26, 2013
Stuart's story now has this update (correction?) amended to it, which acknowledges that her she is double-checking the story with her source:
Never mind that a call to the Academy or its lawyers might be a better route at this point. We'll wait to see if anyone gets proved a liar.