…these pre-prints was immediately followed by the disclaimer that it had not yet been peer reviewed. As though to convey to the reader that the research therein, the research plastered all over the story, was somehow of less worth, less value, less meaning than the research in a published paper, a paper that had passed peer review.
No, that is a misinterpretation.
The fact that X is not peer review MERELY suggests that the editors who published this story with an associated DOI (a ‘permalink’) make it clear to the readers that this story _may_ contain factual or other interpretive errors that have not been vetted by a related expert in the field. That is intellectual honesty. That caveat does not make the article or study in question any less read worthy.