BuzzFeed was fiercely criticized online on Wednesday and into Thursday after the website published a controversial story about the stars of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.”
The story centered on the views Chip and Joanna Gaines have toward same-sex couples. Reporter Kate Arthur, who was unable to obtain comment from the couple, only wrote that their church stands “firmly against same-sex marriage.”
“Their pastor considers homosexuality to be a ‘sin’ caused by abuse — whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear,” Arthur wrote.
The guilt-by-association nature of the story prompted an intense backlash.
“Maybe don’t do this, BuzzFeed,” wrote conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.
National Review contributor Jim Geraghty wrote that BuzzFeed had allowed a “social-media-mob-stirring, guilt-by-association, drive-out-the-heretics philosophy” to govern its editorial decision making.
Others went even further.
Erick Erickson, editor of conservative website The Resurgent, wrote that “the article is blatant bigotry against Bible believing Christians.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joined in on the savaging against the “bigots from BuzzFeed” in a Thursday morning email to supporters:
“As several critics have noted, both on TV and in real life, Chip and Joanna Gaines appear to be model parents, loving spouses, funny, intelligent, likable, generous, highly skilled and extremely successful. And maybe that’s the real problem that BuzzFeed’s writers have. Their popularity shatters the false image that liberal media outlets like BuzzFeed peddle of red state residents being a bunch of dumb, hateful, bigoted ‘deplorables.’”
The story also had critics raising other questions about BuzzFeed.
"BuzzFeed's editor-in-chief Ben Smith famously declared that the company's official editorial policy on same-sex marriage was that 'there are not two sides to the issue.' Does BuzzFeed apply that same standard when it comes to hiring and employment?" asked Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, in an email to Business Insider.
A representative for BuzzFeed did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday morning, but Smith defended the story on Twitter.
"This is a story about a big company, HGTV, refusing to say whether they ban LGBT people from a TV show," Smith wrote. "They should just answer the question."