Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin “Married” Reports Is Why Fact-Checking Is So Important
Justin Bieber is NOT married to Hailey Baldwin, though dozens of outlets had falsely reported on Friday they tied the knot. Not one publication or website, however, had on-the-record confirmation. And while it’s easier to simply regurgitate claims and use words like “reportedly,” Gossip Cop was busy fact-checking the secret wedding claim by reaching out to numerous individuals in both their camps. Late on Friday, Baldwin, herself a primary source, tweeted, “I understand where the speculation is coming from, but I’m not married yet!”
It all started with TMZ reporting Bieber and Baldwin obtained their marriage license on Thursday, complete with long-lensed photos of them entering a New York City courthouse. Hours later, however, People blared in a headline “Whirlwind Wedding! Justin Bieber Secretly Marries Hailey Baldwin Two Months After Proposal: Sources.” That set off an avalanche of inaccurate reports, because numerous outlets opted for fast headlines over fact-checking.
Billboard, for instance, ran the headline, “Justin Bieber & Hailey Baldwin Get Married in New York: Report.” Its story even acknowledged, “An unnamed source reportedly confirmed to People that the 24-year-old singer and 21-year-old model tied the knot at a courthouse in the city, with no information at press time about the location or timing of the marriage.”
Elle essentially did the same thing for an article it titled, “Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin Are Reportedly MARRIED.” The magazine posted a story online that stated, “Just minutes after TMZ reported that Jailey is getting married as early as next week, People came along and reported that nope, Hailey Baldwin and Justin Bieber are already married NOW. They got married yesterday in New York City’s courthouse.”
Par for the course, HollywoodLife ran a series on articles without bothering to check its facts. First it posted a piece with the headline, “Justin Bieber & Hailey Baldwin Married: Secret Wedding In NYC.” The blog even promoted on the top of its site, “Justin & Hailey Are Legally Married.” And always looking for a new angle, even if it’s based on false information, the website published another story titled, “Selena Gomez On Justin Bieber Getting Secretly Married: Her Reaction.” (Of course, it’s hard to believe the aptly nicknamed HollywoodLies really had a “source” for Gomez — who once called the blog “the worst” — sharing her “reaction” to news of Bieber’s wedding when he didn’t actually get married.)
While Gossip Cop understands the desire to be first or among the earliest to report a big story, it’s more important to be factual, which is why we sometimes have to take our time. Now, all the other outlets are busy updating their stories and changing around sentences and paragraphs to cover their tracks. Gossip Cop tried to coax Baldwin and Bieber’s friends and reps to go on the record to confirm or deny the claims earlier on Friday. Apparently, Baldwin felt the statement should come directly from her.
We don’t mind reporting after the fact, as long as we’ve accurate. It’s certainly better than being than being first, but having false information. It’s a belief we’re wedded to, even if Bieber and Baldwin are not yet married.