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Buzzfeed: Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?

July 30, 2013 - Ben Klein
From the New York Times:

Reza Aslan, the author of “Zealot,” a new biography of Jesus was on Fox News last Friday to discuss the book with Lauren Green host of “Spirited Debate.”

Things got weird.

From the New York Times:

“You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” Ms. Green asked.

“Well, to be clear,” Mr. Aslan said, his eyebrows lifting up in surprise, “I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim.”

Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed originally posted the interview under the headline "Is This The Most Embarrassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?"

According to the New York Times, "the video has been viewed nearly 4 million times. Mr. Aslan quickly amassed an additional 5,000 Twitter followers. On Monday, Random House, Mr. Aslan’s publisher, said the interview had clearly helped the book: in two days, sales increased 35 percent."

By Sunday the book has hit had hit No. 1 on Amazon and "Random House is rushing to meet the surge in demand for the book. On Monday, the publisher ordered 50,000 copies, bringing the total to 150,000 copies in print by the end of the week"

The New Republic's Marc Tracy breaks down how Buzzfeed was able to wring in page views with a video link to Fox News and a short description and of course that headline "Is This The Worst Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?".

"Fox News, which like U.S. Steel is vertically integrated, ginned up “controversy” over the book by publishing an article claiming that the “liberal media” routinely fails to disclose that Aslan is a “devout Muslim,” and then reported on the (again, auto-fabricated) “controversy” by having host Lauren Green confront him with this. Having established Aslan’s Muslim-ness, Green conspiratorially asks, “It still begs the question: Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?” She then accuses him of obfuscating his faith, and he responds by noting that a statement of his religion appears on “the second page of my book”

Tracy continues, "It is not surprising that BuzzFeed would leverage this best. As I reported in a New Republic story about the site a year ago, its presence on social media, its clean layout, and its editorial philosophy of shearing most context from tidbits of news and giving readers just the thing itself—all make the site immaculately positioned to capitalize on the new news economy, in which readers increasingly find things like this video not by subscribing to or regularly visiting specific blogs or websites, but by happening upon independent articles shared via social media like Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. Indeed, more than half of BuzzFeed’s pageviews have come from people clicking on links to the post that their friends shared on Facebook. (And don’t sleep on Kaczynski’s headline—headlines being something that I would bet BuzzFeed spends a substantial amount of time thinking about. Kaczynski’s headline was, “Is This The Most Embarassing Interview Fox News Has Ever Done?” Don’t you want to click and find out?)"


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