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BuzzFeed Editor Fired over Plagiarism Charges, Apologizes on Twitter

BuzzFeed has fired its politics editor Benny Johnson after Twitter users dug up examples of Johnson plagiarizing some sentences of his posts from other sources, including Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers.

The whole thing started when Johnson took to Twitter to lambaste the Independent Journal Review for plagiarizing a piece he wrote a while ago about George H.W. Bush‘s socks.

In response, Twitter users @blippoblappo and @crushingbort wrote up a post listing examples of Johnson plagiarizing others’ works. BuzzFeed conducted an internal review of Johnson’s work before the decision was made to fire him.

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith posted an apologetic editor’s note to readers late last night, in which he announced Johnson’s firing.

After carefully reviewing more than 500 of Benny’s posts, we have found 41 instances of sentences or phrases copied word for word from other sites. Benny is a friend, colleague, and, at his best, a creative force, but we had no choice other than letting him go.

We owe you, our readers, an apology. This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site. Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader. We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you. Benny’s editors — I, Katherine Miller, John Stanton, Shani Hilton, and McKay Coppins — bear real responsibility.

Johnson was silent on Twitter yesterday as the accusations unfolded, but earlier today tweeted out an apology for what he’d done.

[featured image via BuzzFeed]

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Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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