The “news” website Bipartisan Report published a news story this week claiming that Sarah Palin “chickened out” of a debate with Bill Nye over climate change.
The original story, which broke Monday claimed that Bill Nye was going to appear at a climate change denial movie premier and debate Sarah Palin. That story alone was fabricated as Nye isn’t taking part in the conference at all. You can read more about that here.
But now, “writer” Brittany Cassell of Bipartisan Report is claiming that Sarah Palin “chickened out” of a debate with Nye.
“The infamous (and not for good reason) Sarah Palin has chickened out of “debating” with “Bill Nye the Science Guy” in person, and has opted for some kind of pre-recorded video conversation instead,” she wrote in her piece.
This, of course, is not true. Nye himself said he was never invited to the event, never would have attended the event, and the whole thing is just a publicity stunt by promoters to sell tickets to an anti-science film.
Blogger Tracey Moody asked Cassell why she was being dishonest in a series of tweets and asked her for sources of her claims. Cassell’s reply was that she made the whole thing up.
When pressed harder, Cassell claimed that she was in the right to fabricate the story because of “freedom of speech.”
Bipartisan Report has been contacted and asked to retract the story, but as of now, the story still remains online.
Cassell does not seem to understand that in journalism, freedom of speech isn’t an excuse to fabricate a story. If your story is not satire, you cannot simply make up news you see fit and publish it as a fact.
After several bloggers, authors, and journalist questioned Cassell on her ethics, she switched her account to private.
I was contacted by Brittany who made the following statement:
I have explained that I did not put it up for click bait and that I was asked to write the story by my employer. It’s merely a difference of opinion, and my company reserves the right to use sensationalized headlines. The article backs up all claims made and fully explains the “debate” within the article.I also would like to point out that the tweets you published are taken out of context, as I was saying I “made up” the phrase chickening out, as in I applied it to that context. At first I thought that Tracy was accusing me of plagiarizing, so I was trying to say that I made that bit up and did not steal it from somewhere else. I did not say I “made up” the debate.
It seems Brittany doesn’t understand what she did wrong. While the headline is nonsense and sensationalized it is based on her making up the fact that she is saying Palin “chickened out” of a debate. She did not because there was never a debate to chicken out of. She made up the entire premise of the post. If she is telling the truth and it is, in fact, her editors who asked her to write a false piece, this is important information, however, as a journalist if you are asked to be dishonest by your editors and you agree to do so, you are still responsible for what you chose to write.
Brittany has also published a blog in which she accuses me of slander and defamation. She obviously doesn’t understand these terms and has never heard of libel. However, I have reported the 100% truth on my site and quoted her admitting in print that she made up the entire “chickened out” bit that has been called into question. So this is not slander, defamation, or libel.
Her misinformation in her blog continued as she says:
Sarah Palin and Bill Nye were going to engage in a discussion on climate change, and yes the wording was changed to “debate” in order to entice viewers.
This, again, is 100% false as Bill Nye himself said he was never asked to be a part of any discussion or to be a part of this event. So as a journalist (something she now claims she is not, rightfully so) she is responsible for writing the facts, and this is not a fact.
What her comment and her blog post show is that she doesn’t understand what she did wrong. She made up a story, her publisher made up a headline based on her made-up story and she feels this is a disagreement over a matter of opinion.
The fact is, Sarah Palin didn’t chicken out of a debate with Bill Nye because Bill Nye was never asked to debate Sarah Palin.