Variety’s biases are obvious to anyone who so much as clicks on the Hollywood site.
The news outlet, like the vast majority of entertainment sites, leans to the Left.
Still, readers expect the general facts of a given story to be accurate. And, if a story proves to be untrue, a speedy and coherent update. The site failed to do so this week.
Variety reported on a bomb threat against the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF, specifically targeting “Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero,” a new documentary by the black queer musician.
“Lil Nas X Doc Premiere at TIFF Delayed by Bomb Threat From Homophobic Caller (EXCLUSIVE),” reads the initial Variety headline.
The threat specifically targeted the rapper for being a Black queer artist, one source added.
The story plugs into the Left’s narrative regarding gay rights in America, from the false “Don’t Say Gay” narrative in Florida to former President Donald Trump’s alleged animosity toward gay Americans.
The truth? Trump was and remains pro-gay marriage and worked in the entertainment industry for decades without any bigotry aimed at gay colleagues.
A narrative is a narrative, though, and Variety thought it had a corker of an exclusive to support one of its preferred storylines.
Except it wasn’t true.
The bomb threat angle was quickly debunked by both Toronto police and a TIFF spokesperson. The threat in question was a single comment hurled at a security official at the festival. Lil Nas X was never the target.
The conservative Breitbart News, tapping an AP report on the matter, got it right.
“Our standard security measures remained in place during this time and the screening commenced with a slight delay,” Judy Lung, vice president of public affairs and communications for TIFF, said. “To our knowledge, this was a general threat and not directed at the film or the artist.”
The Variety exclusive got it wrong. Mistakes happen, of course.
To the site’s credit, it updated its existing story … except the headline remains the same. Many news consumers read the headline of a story and the first two or three paragraphs before moving on to other sites.
If you did that with the Variety piece, you’d assume the angle in question remained accurate. You have to dig deep into the story to learn it’s Fake News 101.
Perhaps that was the goal all along?
IndieWire covered the event, too, allowing the filmmakers to lean into the false narrative. Here’s co-director Zac Manuel factoring the Fake News into his comments.
“Those lows, those threats, the violence, and then him still walking and still going out. It just is a huge middle finger to that. So yeah, I felt really proud actually to be in that moment afterwards and have done what we did, and had shown the film and had been there with him just to be like, ‘Yeah, f*** all of that noise. We’re still going to shine.’”
That IndieWire story, as of Sept. 12, has not been updated with the new information. NME.com also reported on the false Variety angle without updating the piece.
For many news consumers, the Fake News behind the threat will be their truth, just another media lie they accept sans scrutiny. Except it’s not entirely their fault.