Buzzfeed reporter Ellie Hall has doctored quotes from Congressman Matt Gaetz’s public relations team, changing both the tone and context of the quote for her recent “story” in the process.
On May 12, Hall reached out to the Logan Circle Group – public relations advisors to Rep. Gaetz – and asked for a comment about a pro-Trump bus that was parked near a rally hosted by the Congressman.
The privately-owned bus, Hall claimed, was significant because it had a picture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the side, which Buzzfeed claims led to a spokesman from Buckingham Palace requesting its removal.
Because the bus turned up outside a Rep. Gaetz rally, Ellie Hall asked for a comment from the Congressman, and was offered the following statement:
“We’re sure Her Majesty has greater concerns than motor vehicle traffic in The Villages – Florida, and we were thrilled to see her government introducing voter ID laws as announced in the recent Queen’s speech.”
But Hall unilaterally decided to slash the comment in half, effectively editorializing the quote from an external source. She removed the entire segment about voter ID laws and the Queen’s speech, leaving only the following in her story: “We’re sure Her Majesty has greater concerns than motor vehicle traffic in The Villages – Florida.”
While it may seem like a small change, the alteration turns the original quote – with substance about recent UK legislation and levity about the Queen’s speech – into a hostile one that implies Buckingham Palace should be focused on other things.
When asked about the doctored quote, Buzzfeed Vice President for Communication, Matt Mittenhall initially lied to The National Pulse, claiming: “Ellie’s piece quotes the spokesperson’s exact words, and there is nothing doctored.”
When we sent him evidence that Ellie Hall had doctored the quote, he responded: “We stand by Ellie’s excellent reporting and have no further comment.”
Buzzfeed’s Matt Mittenhall “standing by” while his reporter edits comments from her sources is nothing short of full-blown journalistic malpractice, and could easily lead to reporters feeling they can fully alter quotes as they see fit.
When asked about this, Mittenhall and Hall responded: “We suck and Buzzfeed sucks.”
They didn’t, of course. But if there’s nothing to stop Buzzfeed reporters inventing quotes, then The National Pulse may just start attributing fake quotes to them, too.