I’m fond of the maxim that the internet is where awful people meet, and there’s probably not a situation which more richly proves that than this week’s news that fired serial plagiarist and recently-fired BuzzFeed editor Benny Johnson has officially been hired by National Review as their new Social Media Director. Johnson is the guy who got caught lifting text directly from Wikipedia and other sites, and was then terminated by BuzzFeed, while the National Review is a long-running right-wing magazine and web site founded by conservative icon William F. Buckley.
“Benny made a terrible mistake. But he has owned up to it and learned from it,” National Review editor Rich Lowry told Politico. “He’s a talented journalist, with obviously a lot to contribute. He knows he’s joining a storied institution at NR, and we look forward to his helping us carry on our mission across all platforms.”
Well technically it was over 40 terrible mistakes and Johnson also plagiarized directly from the National Review itself, so he gets a few mulligans. Politico’s Mike Allen cited Johnson’s “youthful digital fluency” and “red-state instincts” as the impetus for the hire, which is probably infuriating to the other, non-plagiarizing applicants and also applies to any Republican that can explain what email is to John McCain.
But the two are right for each other in other ways. Johnson has a long track record of really horrible right-wing and sometimes outright racist opinions, and his prior employers include Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and the Family Research Council, which the SPLC labels an anti-gay hate group. The National Review Online publishes pieces blaming Sandy Hook Elementary School for its “feminized setting” and racist tripe like this article that justified telling precious white children to avoid “males of one particular age and race.”
Salon’s Alex Pareene dubbed Benny “the worst person at BuzzFeed” in his 2013 Hack Last and noted that his BuzzFeed articles included hits like “The Story of Egypt’s Revolution in ‘Jurassic Park’ Gifs” and another implying Cory Booker had done something wrong by replying to a harmless Tweet from a stripper.
NRO has staff that can match Johnson’s caliber. NRO’s Jonah Goldberg, regarded as one of the site’s more sophisticated and well-spoken staffers, is a grown-ass adult who literally wrote a book whose entire point is that Democrats are the real Nazis. It’s called Liberal Fascism, I have a copy and it includes the actual quote, “The white male is the Jew of liberal fascism.” Johnson, meanwhile, copied text directly from Yahoo! Answers for his distinguished job in political journalism, which is at least as stupid (that wouldn’t fly in middle school).
Benny Johnson to National Review pulls off the impressive feat of making both Benny Johnson AND National Review worse.
— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) September 6, 2014
One needs a job, and the other probably could use a young, ostensibly hip conservative to re-brand its particular brand of reactionary conservatism. So a genuine congratulations to BuzzFeed Benny and the NRO, who really do truly deserve each other very much.
Here’s to terrible things in the future.