Liberal “fact checker” website Snopes is the go-to for leftists who need material with which to spam comment sections when they don’t want to do their own research or actually know anything. Snopes has been caught lying many times over the years, even going so far as to misrepresent clear satire sites like the Babylon Bee as “fake news” in an effort to justify their now-gone spot as Facebook’s go-to fact checking organization. Now, Snopes’ co-founder has been caught plagiarizing dozens of articles.
A Buzzfeed News investigation found that not only was co-founder David Mikkelson plagiarized dozens of articles between 2015 and 2019, pulling from source materials like the Guardian and the LA Times. When Buzzfeed contacted Snopes about the plagiarism, the website conducted an internal audit. What they found was shocking:
After inquiries from BuzzFeed News, Snopes conducted an internal review and confirmed that under a pseudonym, the Snopes byline, and his own name, Mikkelson wrote and published 54 articles with plagiarized material. The articles include such topics as same-sex marriage licenses and the death of musician David Bowie.
Snopes VP of Editorial and Managing Editor Doreen Marchionni suspended Mikkelson from editorial duties pending “a comprehensive internal investigation.” He remains an officer and a 50% shareholder of the company.
used appropriated material, including all of the stories Buzzfeed shared with us,” Marchionni and Snopes Chief Operating Officer Vinny Green said in a statement.
“Let us be clear: Plagiarism undermines our mission and values, full stop,” Marchionni added. “It has no place in any context within this organization.”
Snopes’ editorial staff disavowed Mikkelson’s behavior in a separate statement signed by eight current writers. “We strongly condemn these poor journalistic practices. … we work hard every day to uphold the highest possible journalistic and ethical standards.”
Snopes plans to retract all of the plagiarized articles and disable ads on them, though there’s no telling how much money Mikkelson’s shady behavior made the site. An editor’s note will also explain that the site’s co-founder is a shady piece of garbage who has nothing resembling an ethical code — though it’s unlikely that the note will explain this honestly.
“There is no excuse for my serious lapses in judgement. I’m sorry,” Mikkelson says in the most half-hearted apology in existence. In fact, he says that his unethical behavior comes from a lack of a journalism background:
“I didn’t come from a journalism background,” he said. “I wasn’t used to doing news aggregation. A number of times I crossed the line to where it was copyright infringement. I own that.”
Multiple employees confirm that it wasn’t just Mikkelson doing this. It was the whole staff. “He would instruct us to copy text from other sites, post them verbatim so that it looked like we were fast and could scoop up traffic, and then change the story in real time,” says former Snopes writer Brooke Binkowski. “I hated it and wouldn’t tell any of the staff to do it, but he did it all the time.” He also told staffers to find articles on competitors’ sites and “rewrite it just enough to avoid copyright infringement.”
The next time someone posts a Snopes article, be sure to remind them of this.