Thursday night, BuzzFeed news editor Rachel Zarrell reacted to a deadly shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by tweeting, “Don’t pray. Push for gun control” and “If this were someone in my family I’d want every person alive screaming about gun control to anyone who would listen.” Within an hour, however, Zarrell suddenly reversed course by tweeting an apology of sorts to the conservative activist Stephen Miller:
In late January, BuzzFeed published a lengthy standards and ethics manual, with which the site intended to hold itself accountable for various missteps (such as surreptitiously deleting articles). Unlike most other news outlets that bother with ethics manuals, however, BuzzFeed decided to specify its stance toward a number of social and political issues: “We firmly believe that for a number of issues, including civil rights, anti-racism, and LGBT equality, there are not two sides.”
In late 2012, the morning after the second presidential debate, BuzzFeed published an article titled “The Debate Romney Won,” which floated the Romney campaign’s theory that the Republican candidate “came out on top — horserace analysis be damned” in the October 16 debate. The piece is mostly notable for the decision of its authors, McKay Coppins and Zeke Miller, to grant anonymity to a Romney aide so he could praise his own boss and trash President Obama as “a weak leader.” It is also notable for the fact that, two days after it was published, the entire post disappeared from BuzzFeed’s website.
On April 16, Gawker contacted BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith with evidence that his site had deleted a post criticizing Pepsi, a BuzzFeed advertiser, under pressure from the beverage manufacturer. In response, Smith invited Gawker to interview him and BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti at the company’s New York office. A transcript of the interview, which took place on April 17 and concerns BuzzFeed’s ongoing review of deleted content, can be found below. It has been lightly edited for clarity.