BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith Says Ted Cruz ‘Approaches Going Viral Like It’s His Job’

Why was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) showing the Internet his best impression of Homer Simpson?

It was an open question on Tuesday after BuzzFeed News published a video of the presidential candidate rattling off impersonations from his favorite show, The Simpsons.

“I’ve been told many times, I have a face for radio and a face for animation,” Cruz said, mugging for the camera.

The post appeared to be a companion to an interview with Cruz by political writer McKay Coppins, which discussed the tea party diehard’s social media skills and explored the “successful memes he had launched” over the years.

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith spoke with TPM by phone on Tuesday to explain Cruz’s venture into voice acting.

“He came by for this long interview with McKay and then [producer Emily Anderson] kidnapped him for 10 minutes and somehow persuaded him to do this,” Smith told TPM.

Smith said the video was a new type of collaboration between the politics section and BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, the site’s LA-based video division that launched last year with a $50 million injection from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

The video was conceived and whipped up by Anderson, a producer at BuzzFeed Motion Pictures and a former producer of pop-documentarian Morgan Spurlock.

The Cruz reel was reminiscent of a February video in which the site teamed up with President Obama to promote the Affordable Care Act. In that post, which has since racked up nearly 2 million pageviews, the President roamed the halls of the White House with a selfie-stick. It spawned a fair amount of coverage for both the site and the law.

“The Obama thing was certainly the model, showing we can do a tough interview with someone and also a goofy video,” Smith said. “It’s fun. We’re able to do new things, and in this case on quite short notice.”

Smith added he was impressed with Cruz’s chops.

“He’s good at the Internet and approaches going viral like it’s his job. He did these impressions like it was his job,” he said. “He very briefly prepped with his staff and then just killed it.”

As part of their collaborative approach to social media, BuzzFeed staff blasted out the video and the interview on Twitter throughout the afternoon, with @BuzzfeedNews declaring, “@TedCruz Knows How To Go Viral.”

Two hours after the post went live, with 60,000 views on Facebook, Smith said it was too early to tell if the post would actually go viral.

“But it’s definitely, like, totally delightful,” Smith said.

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