The Mirror

Life After Control C: The Benny Johnson Story

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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For months, ex-BuzzFeeder Benny Johnson maintained a polite silence. He’d thank you for your question, but say he wasn’t quite ready to talk about what happened.

Well, now he’s ready.

And here’s what he’s saying on Facebook about the past seven months of his life.

“Seven months ago I was fired. While the journalism world sat staring at the wreckage, I feared this was the end of the work I love and had devoted my life to. Then my favorite magazine hired me & I got to work along side[sic]  my intellectual heroes. Now, my favorite social publisher has hired me to build a viral politics newsroom. Which is my dream job. Whatever you’re going through right now, my advice: Don’t. Ever. Give. Up.”  

Let’s glance back at that wreckage, shall we?

The year is 2014. It’s late July. Balmy. And Johnson was about to have the rudest awakening of his roughly 3-year-old journalism career (life’s work). Initially BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith backed him, calling him, in a quote to Politico, one of the web’s “deeply original writers.” But as more and more instances of plagiarism surfaced — in all, 40 — Smith’s support began to sound less enthused.

On July 26, after a careful editorial review of his 500 pieces of his work — and that’s a shit ton of listicles, some involving animals — they fired him.

Down in the dumps, he went to the beach. To New York. To Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. Presumably to chill, lick his wounds, drink and review new job prospects. Yeah, even with the P-word invisibly etched onto his resumé, he had them even then.

Fast forward to September 6, a mere 40 days from the day he was fired, Johnson picked himself up and went to work for National Review, which is apparently his “favorite magazine.” His job title: Digital Director.

Five months later, Johnson was once again on the move. He quit. National Review‘s Rich Lowry gave him a loving sendoff.

This time he was off to Independent Journal Review to be creative content director for his “favorite publisher.”

And Wednesday: His Oscar acceptance speech. Oh, I mean his life advice on Facebook.

Nearly 400 likes later, Johnson may be onto something.