Serial plagiarist Benny Johnson has left his job as a reporter for The Daily Caller to join Charlie Kirk’s right-wing nonprofit Turning Point USA.
On Wednesday afternoon, The Hill confirmed that Johnson will join TPUSA, a national pro-Trump student activist organization founded by Kirk, 25, a frequent Fox News guest and outspoken Twitter presence.
In a Tuesday memo, the Caller’s editor in chief said Johnson will leave the publication, noting that he got the most traffic of any writer “by a long shot.”
“His indomitable spirit is an example for all, his thirst for politics is absolutely insatiable, his creativity is unprecedented ... at least in the center-right,” Geoff Ingersoll wrote. “I’m glad we got to work with him for as long as we did.”
Ingersoll made it a point to later clarify on Twitter that Johnson was not fired.
The move to the conservative student-focused meme factory is the latest twist in Johnson’s strange media descent that began when he was fired in 2014 by BuzzFeed for repeatedly copying others’ work.
Several online sleuths discovered multiple instances in which Johnson—then a viral-content star for BuzzFeed—lifted phrases wholesale from other websites. BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith initially defended Johnson’s reputation and his canon—which included such work as “The Story of Egypt’s Revolution in ‘Jurassic Park’ Gifs”—by telling Gawker that “Benny Johnson is one of the web’s deeply original writers, as is clear from his body of work.”
But then at least 40 more instances of plagiarism were discovered. Not only did he rip off content from other media outlets but he also copied wording verbatim from About.com, Yahoo Answers, and Wikipedia. He was then promptly fired. His reputation for groan-worthy trolling and shoddy journalism has since become so well-known that years later Smith publicly apologized for being partly responsible for Johnson’s career.
After being fired by BuzzFeed, Johnson found a brief home at National Review Online before moving on to conservative startup blog Independent Journal Review, where he was eventually demoted and then fired over a series of reported mishaps that included: Publishing baseless conspiracy theories, allegedly violating company ethics and being a poor manager, and, ultimately, plagiarizing yet again.
Johnson, 32, has since then seemingly traded remorse for a career of trolling the mainstream reporters and outlets who spurned him by lurching further and further rightward, incessantly “owning the libs” with posts engineered to go viral among the MAGA audience or playing court-jester at a Turning Point USA conference in which Johnson donned an American flag suit and fired a t-shirt cannon while rambling about “meme wars.”
“Benny is bringing his humor, wit, and creative force of nature to Turning Point USA as our new Chief Creative Officer. It’s a natural partnership and we could not be more thrilled,” Kirk said of Johnson’s hiring in a statement to The Hill.