Michael Moore takes on Buzzfeed in spat over Palestinian director’s detention

Reporting on 5 Broken Cameras director was ‘completely fabricated’


Director Emad Burnat with his five broken cameras. (Kino Lorber, Inc./File)

A war of words erupted between Buzzfeed and filmmaker Michael Moore over what really happened to Oscar-nominated director Emad Burnat at the Los Angeles airport.

Let’s back up to Wednesday, when Moore published a blog post describing the ordeal Burnat, the Palestinian director of the film 5 Broken Cameras, and his family went through as he was detained while trying to make his way into the United States to attend the Academy Awards.

Moore wrote that Burnat texted him to say that officials were holding him, his wife Soraya, and his eight-year-old son. “He said they would not believe him when he told them he was an Oscar-nominated director on his way to this Sunday’s Oscars and to the events in LA leading up to the ceremony,” wrote Moore. “He is also a Palestinian. And an olive farmer. Apparently that was too much for Homeland Security to wrap its head around.”

Burnat was released after being held for one or two hours, but he and his family were shaken, Moore said. In addition to the blog post, Moore also shared his version of the events on Twitter and 5 Broken Cameras co-director Guy Davidi said Burnat’s wife was held because she was wearing a hijab. Burnat also suggested that the whole family was racially profiled at customs.

On Monday afternoon, Buzzfeed staff writer Tessa Stuart published a story quoting an anonymous source at the airport who said that Moore’s version of the events was all wrong. “When he [Burnat] said he was here to attend the Oscars, he was asked to produce his ticket,” writes Stuart. “When he wasn’t able to produce that document on spot Burnat was taken to a secondary inspection area where he found the ticket, showed it Customs officers, and was immediately allowed to proceed to the baggage claim.”

In the Buzzfeed story the source says: “He [Burnat] was not racially profiled. It is being used as political stunt, and a publicity stunt for the movie.”

Moore responded to Stuart’s story and he used his Twitter account to point out that there were a few problems with her account of events, which was based on a single source.

Buzzfeed later added Moore’s critical tweets into its story, with a line saying the writer could not reach Moore or Davidi for comments.

Buzzfeed also added this line at the bottom: “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.”

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Michael Moore takes on Buzzfeed in spat over Palestinian director’s detention

  1. Moore lies about everything, the old end justifies the means argument

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