Activism in place of journalism has been a cornerstone in the continuing decline of news media over the past years. This was recently made abundantly clear when Buzzfeed was tricked into publishing a fake news story about transgenders being denied entry into an ESL tournament for women only.
Infowars recounts how a group of trolls known as the “Rigatoni Family” took bad photos of themselves in wigs and tried to get into the ESL Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament for women. The ESL denied them entry, and they expected as much, so they took their story to Buzzfeed in hopes of tricking them into publishing the fake news about the incident. They did.
As noted in the Infowars piece, Buzzfeed later updated the story saying they were tricked by trolls.
According to Sly Buehl Rigilio, he told Infowars…
“ We knew we were going to get declined into joining the tournament, so once we did get turned down, I then sent an email to a Buzzfeed “journalist” by the name of Lane Sainty to try and bait them into making a story out of it,”
[…] “We did nothing to hide our team name, which was “Rigatoni Family” and if you were to search that name into Google, you’d find our channel and website where we clearly are shit disturbers. It’s blatant negligence on the behalf of Buzzfeed and other news orgs that have since picked up the story, aka Fake News,”
In this case, a five second Google search could have helped Buzzfeed vet the story, but fact checking isn’t part of the news media agenda these days.
Had they fact-checked the Rigatoni family they would have discovered the YouTube channel called the “Rigatoni Family”, and this is the video on the main page.
However, the news on Buzzfeed was too good to pass up, even though it was clearly fake.
Kotaku, ever the defender of Social Justice Warrior rights, hopped right to it and Nathan Grayson – one of #GamerGate’s biggest targets and one of DeepFreeze’s biggest offenders of unethical journalism – quickly penned a piece to white knight for the supposed transgenders who were denied entry into an all-female ESL tournament.
The lack of fact-checking and the insistence of imbuing sociopolitical commentary and identity politics in the gaming industry came back to bite Kotaku hard. After Infowars published the piece notifying the world that Buzzfeed had been spearheaded a campaign of fake news, and all the SJW-related websites followed suit, Kotaku was forced to post an apology.
Grayson ceded the moral high ground to admit that they had fallen for publishing fake news, writing…
“This story seems to have been based on a hoax designed to get BuzzFeed and, by extension, other sites to publish an inaccurate news article. Sly Buehl Rigilio is quoted in a new article on Infowars saying that he and his friends posed as trans women to trick BuzzFeed “for the laughs.”
“When this sort of prank gains widespread publicity, it makes people and organizations more likely to distrust actual trans people. By failing to adequately vet this story, I gave it more publicity. This should never have made it to our site. We should have been more skeptical in reporting this story, and I apologize to our readers for this mistake.”
Kotaku wasn’t the only one who was bent on pushing fake identity political news into the news sphere. Mashable also joined in on the fray, only to have to later update their story as well.
After Kotaku’s article garnered a lot of negative feedback, Grayson took to Twitter to defend his position, chastising the trolls for proving that media journalism is highly unethical, writing…
“I should’ve vetted this story better, and I apologize, but also… 🎶people are garbage🎶
“it’s like, what the hell were you trying to prove? that the media is fallible? no shit, sherlock. beyond that, this hoax says nothing incisive or whatever about trans folks bc, well, the people who did this weren’t trans so in the end, all these people have proven is that assholes exist. what a revelation[.]
“silver lining to all of this: ESL tells me they’re sticking by their plan to create a more inclusive set of policies[.]”
The copy-and-paste mentality of current news media meant that the story gained just enough saturation before Infowars pulled the rug out from underneath them, proving that all the skepticism and reluctance that readers have of large, corporate owned, politically motivated media outlets is well warranted.
This also proves that #GamerGate is right again, and that there is a serious and troubling issue when it comes to ethics in media journalism.