Republican Hack And Plagiarist 'Buzzfeed Benny' Still Has Job, Because Buzzfeed
Are you the kind of person who is just too busy to read actual articles with actual words because you're obsessively clicking boxes to find out your level of expertise in pooping, whether you are hungover, or which character from a bad '80s sitcom you would be if you were a character from a bad '80s sitcom, which you are not, but hey, this is IMPORTANT, which is why you only have time to "read" the news as explained through Toy Story GIFS?
Congratulations, you are the reason Buzzfeed exists and is basically taking over the entire internet, and yes, you are terrible, you are what is wrong with everything, and no, your friends on Facebook really don't give an expert poop that you're "a bit of a square," just like Danny Tanner from "Full House"!
That's okay, though. We all have our guilty pleasures. And there is nothing immoral about enjoying that kind of infotainment, even when that infotainment is so offensively disgustingly embarrassingly bad -- like this piece of fawning garbage by Viral Politics Editor Benny Johnson about how terrific George Dubya is at thanking soldiers when he's not laughing about how he sent them off to die for no reason at all.
You know what is not okay and is immoral? Stealing those half-assed captions you, Benny Johnson, call "writing" from other people who are not you and pretending they are your own. In the old-school get-off-my-lawn world where we use our words, we call that PLAGIARISM.
Two pseudonymous Twitter users pointed out today that BuzzFeed’s Viral Politics editor, Benny Johnson, has periodically lifted text from a variety of sources -- Wikipedia, U.S. News & World Report, a random press release -- all without credit. The users, @blippoblappo and @crushingbort, supply convincing evidence that Johnson slightly reworded various sentences to make them his own.
That's not the worst part, though. Benny Johnson -- formerly known as Benjamin A. Johnson when he was chairman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, before moving on to an illustrious mud-slinging career at Glenn Beck's The Blaze and then becoming Buzzfeed Benny -- has always been a hack. In 2013, in fact, he made former Wonker Alex Pareene's must-read annual hack list, beating out even David Brooks and Richard Cohen, who have been hacking since before Benny was born.
No, the worst part is that Ben Smith, Buzzfeed's editor-in-chief, did not immediately fire Benny. Instead, he defended the hack plagiarist in an email to Gawker:
We’re grateful to @blippoblappo and @crushingbort for pointing out these serious failures to properly attribute two quotations and to credit a source in a third post. We’ve corrected the posts.
Benny Johnson is one of the web’s deeply original writers, as is clear from his body of work.
Obviously, we can all have a good deep guffaw at the idea that Benny Johnson is deeply original. Or a writer. Hahahahahahahahahaha Jesus Christ hahaha.
Now that's out of the way, what is NOT so funny is that Buzzfeed claims to have these shiny new and improved "editorial standards," which justify deleting older posts that suck so bad, Buzzfeed would rather pretend they never existed, and yet these new editorial standards apparently allow for simply correcting a failure to "properly attribute" by saying "oops, our bad, we've fixed it," instead of firing the plagiarist who pretended he wrote things he did not write, which is what Buzzfeed should do, like, yesterday, because that is what you do with plagiarists. You fire them because they are not writers, they are thieves who never learned the most basic rule of writing, which is WRITE YOUR OWN GODDAMNED WORDS.
As of Thursday, however, Ben Smith felt that by simply "correcting" those "serious failures to properly attribute" -- which we grown-ups call PLAGIARISM -- he had done his job, all good, nothing to see here, move along. He told Poynter he planned to keep Benny on staff instead of firing him for being a plagiarist, because that is what you do with plagiarists, you fire them. Unless you are Buzzfeed, where you only fire people for being "haters."
However, maybe the thundering sound of people screaming "ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?" kept Ben Smith up all night because now he's saying Buzzfeed is reviewing Benny's work (and oh how we pity the poor schmuck tasked with that job), presumably to see how many other posts require "correction" or maybe even deletion on account of how they suck so bad they don't meet Buzzfeed's "editorial standards."
Look. I realize that my writing may not be everyone's cup of tea. (Years ago, one critic suggested, via email, "Either wash out your fucking mouth or drop fucking dead." Thanks, MOM.) But my writing is most definitely MINE, because I am a writer, not a thief. And if I had suffered some serious brain trauma that turned me into a thief, I sure as hell wouldn't expect my editor to make excuses for me or claim that it was some kind of oops! error instead of the egregious crime that stealing other people's words and pretending they are yours actually is.
As of this writing of this post that I am writing with my own words because I am a writer and not a goddamned plagiarist, Benny Johnson has yet to apologize for his crime. Ben Smith has yet to apologize for Benny's crime. Or for insulting those of us who actually write our own words instead of stealing them by calling Benny a writer. Or, as far as we know, to those actual writers on Smith's staff, like Chris Geidner, who was just named the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association journalist of the year, and deservedly so, because he does real journalism, with real words, and he does it real well, and should be scooped up by a news organization with at least two shreds of integrity any second now.
It's nice that Ben Smith has seemingly had a change of heart and decided to at least go through the motions of pretending he even gives a damn that his viral politics editor is, you know, a PLAGIARIST, even if the fact that he is also a fucking hack doesn't faze him. Whatever the final result of Buzzfeed's review of "Benny's" "writing," it's too little and too goddamned late. And the next time a Buzzfeed staffer is inclined to complain on Twitter that they don't just do quizzes and cat listicles -- which, according to Ben Smith, is "actually harder to make" than "most journalism" -- they might want to reconsider or risk being reminded that yeah, in addition to that crap, they also steal words that they did not write and publish it as their own, which, to quote Buzzfeed (see how easy it is to attribute when you are not a thieving hack?) is "trashy" and "WTF" and "Fail."
Follow Kaili Joy Gray on Twitter. She writes her own crappy posts.