Buzzfeed Editor May Have Plagiarized Part Of High-Profile Fort Hood Massacre Post

In April, after Fort Hood suffered its second mass shooting in five years, Buzzfeed sent Benny Johnson down to the Texas military base in what was a high-profile assignment for the site’s viral politics editor who’s now facing mounting charges of plagiarism.

It turns out he may have plagiarized part of his on-the-ground dispatch from the base, too.

The Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone reported on Friday of yet another instance in which Johnson appeared to copy text from another source without providing attribution.

In an April 2014 post titled “Inside Fort Hood, The Site Of Tragedy And Everyday American Life,” Johnson wrote:

Fort Hood was founded because the Army needed a wide-open space to test and train World War II tank destroyers. The War Department announced the location in January 1942.

Calderone noted that the Wikipedia article about Fort Hood includes similar language:

“Its origin was the need for wide-open space to test and train with World War II tank destroyers. The War Department announced the location in January 1942…”

Johnson came under fire on Thursday after a pair of pseudonymous Twitter users, @blippoblappo and @crushingbort, detailed six instances of plagiarism during his time at Buzzfeed.

The two Twitter users followed-up that effort on Friday with another blog post including three additional cases of Johnson apparently lifting text without providing attribution.

Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith was casual when faced with the first slate of allegations on Thursday. He said that the six posts had been “corrected” and even praised Johnson as “one of the web’s deeply original writers.”

But on Friday, after the latest blog post by @blippoblappo and @crushingbort, it was clear that Smith is now taking the allegations more seriously.

“There are serious instances of plagiarism in this post,” Smith told TPM in an email. “We’re reviewing Benny’s work.”

Smith did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on the alleged plagiarism in the Fort Hood post.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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