BuzzFeed depicted the "media elite" going to shooting ranges — and the journalists named said they were wrongly depicted
BuzzFeed political editor McKay Coppins has a target on his back after posting a story Thursday that turned a sardonic eye on the shooting range trips of a cadre of well-known New York journalists.
With the debate over stricter gun control in the news after the mass-shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month, the story had the potential to be explosive, but it appeared to have blown up in the author's face after the reporters in question slammed the piece's characterization of their trigger happy activities.
Foster Kamer, a former New York Observer reporter who now works for the magazine Complex, served as the leading character in the story, entitled "How Gun Culture Won Over Liberals" — and he was infuriated with his depiction.
The story was co-bylined with CJ Lotz, but it was Coppins who was earning the bulk of the social media opprobrium on Thursday morning.
"You managed to omit the entire part of our conversation where I called gun ownership reprehensible," Kamer tweeted at Coppins soon after the post went live. "I told you I don't self-identify as a 'liberal' so much as a 'New York Jew.' Same thing, I guess? This is hack work."
Kamer told TheWrap he explained to Coppins his "nuanced" view on guns — that hunting was unnecessary with the existence of grocery stores and that he argued with his conservative father over gun ownership — but that it didn't make it into the piece.
"None of it made it into the story. And in the same way that McKay chose to so carefully edit the selection of my quotes for him, let me carefully edit my selection of his emails to me, for you," Kamer told TheWrap in an email, attached with a screenshot of an email from Coppins referring to the above photo.
"See the attached photo, in which McKay explains that — after I protest his designation of me as an "urban sophisticate" — he really just wants to write this story so he can run that photo, his words," Kamer wrote.
The screenshot shows Coppins explaining that the story was not meant to screw Kamer over — rather, he wanted to "reintroduce the internet" to the photo of the three journalists holding rifles.
"My father, a longtime gun owner who voted for Bush twice, and who — being a New York Jew by birth — is also apparently a "cultural liberal" by Buzzfeed standards," he added.
The story — topped with a photo of Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa, New York Times columnist David Carr and Kamer toting rifles — illustrates the "media elites, locavores and hipster hunters" that once denounced firearms and now find them, more or less, "cool."
After criticizing Coppins, Kamer went to the reporter's boss, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith.
"I told your reporter I find gun ownership reprehensible. He ran this," he tweeted at Smith, then said he only talked to Coppins because he worked for Smith and with reporter Rosie Gray. "I talked to McKay on the basis that he was employed by you and worked with Rosie."
He described his decision to participate in the Wednesday afternoon interview with expletives.
Soon after, De Rosa, posted his full emailed statement to Coppins on his blog, "since BuzzFeed didn't bother to share to quotes I gave them."
"I’m not a gun owner, but I am someone who I guess has a nuanced view of gun control which probably doesn’t satisfy conservatives or liberals," he said in his statement.
Later, he tweeted at Coppins: "why let the truth get in the way of a sensational bullshit story?"
Coppins responded, saying he didn't know how De Rosa's views on gun control changed the fact that he embraced gun culture by going to a shooting range.
"You guys did your cute little totally un-nuanced tabloid rag type story," De Rosa responded. "Congrats."
Carr has remained, as yet, silent on Twitter about the piece and did not immediately respond to a request from TheWrap for comment. Unlike Kamer, he is not quoted in BuzzFeed piece.
Coppins did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Commenters on the story have also been unkind to Coppins' angle.
"So a few liberals and some locavores have taken to shooting and suddenly it's a 'liberal infatuation?'" one wrote. "Sorry, I'm not buying it."
Updated at 9:27 a.m. PT with quotes from Foster Kamer.
Updated at 11:19 a.m. PT to remove a line saying Anthony De Rosa did not respond. He replied, saying he liked his quotes that TheWrap pulled from Twitter.