Talk about not getting it.
Yesterday we highlighted a NYT Mag piece calling out several prominent journalists for helping spread false information via social media in the days following the Boston bombing, information that incorrectly labeled an innocent, missing kid as a terrorist.
One of those named was BuzzFeed sports reporter Erik Malinowski.
Later on Monday, Malinowski posted a defense of himself on Tumblr in which he manages to not only not take a single ounce of responsibility, but to cast himself as the victim. He says he’s been dragged “unfairly and falsely” into the story because NYT made a “major error”—they got the time of his first tweet off by a couple hours. This is apparently more of a bad thing than the “major error” he committed when he spread the false information in the first place because even his Buzzfeed editor felt compelled to contact NYT to explain this to them. In Malinowski’s world, these couple of hours mean he had absolutely nothing to do with the entire debacle.
Let’s take a closer look at just what role Malinowski played, shall we?
His first tweet came at 3 a.m. EDT (not midnight as NYT Mag said—they’ve since appended a correction). “FYI: A Facebook group dedicated to finding Sunil Tripathi, the missing Brown student, was deleted this evening,” he wrote. It got 151 retweets.
Twelve minutes later, he posted another: “Here’s a full cached version of the now-deleted Facebook group ‘Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.’” That one got 278 retweets and 98 favorites.
Another 12 minutes later and he said, “Here’s a more recent version of that ‘Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi’ Facebook group.”
That’s three tweets in the span of 24 minutes to thousands of followers, all of which together garnered hundreds of retweets, if you’re counting. The information remained uncorrected for another four hours until another journalist, Pete Williams of NBC, managed to confirm that Tripathi was not—and never was—Suspect No. 2.
Malinowski’s last tweet even prompted a rebuke from Adam Rogers, articles editor at Wired (where Malinowski used to work). He said, “Erik, slow down, man. That’s multiply unconfirmed stuff you’re spreading.”
Malinowski replied, “Point taken,” and “Good advice, as always.”
Apparently he changed his mind after NYT Mag started saying the same things, if his Tumblr post is any indication.
And if all that counts as not contributing to spreading false information as he now claims, we’re very afraid to see what Malinowski would’ve thought was an active role. That the best defense he can come up with is ‘hey, I was late to the game’ should’ve been a signal to keep his mouth shut and head in the sand, unless he planned to say something along the lines of, “sorry, I screwed up, I’ll do better.”
Seriously, why is that so hard?