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James Woods’s “Bengahzi” Spectacular

by Hannah Gais

Oct 23, 2015 | Blog, Foreign Policy, Politics


Conservative media may have taken yesterday’s utterly pointless Benghazi hearing and turned it into a nonsensical firestorm, but it was social media that turned it into an ode to stupidity.

The spectacle was particularly apparent on Twitter. Last night, on the right side of Twitter’s homepage in its “trending topics” section for Washington, D.C., was the hashtag #BengahziHearing. (For those less comfortable with reading hashtags, that’s “BenGAHzi [sic] Hearing.”) Yesterday’s four-part, 11-hour-long hearing deserved several frustrated exclamations of “gah.” That said, such irritation doesn’t belong in a transliteration of Libya’s capital city. It’s not even an archaic alternative spelling.

The apparent culprit? A conservative Internet favorite: actor James Woods.

The poorly spelled hashtag first took root among a group of smaller, less influential accounts. Starting in 2013, it’s been occasionally used by those following along with the activities of the House Select Committee on Benghazi—the body responsible for carrying out the various fruitless hearings on the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. Take, for instance, Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-S.C.) thoughts on the subject:

While poor spelling is the bane of the Internet’s existence, it’s rarely reaches the heights of a “trend.” In a medium that profits off of a continuous, rapid flow of thoughtless content, one user’s error isn’t always immediately picked up by the breathless hoards. Conservatives, desperate for content condemning former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after acknowledging that their own hearings were boring as hell, gobbled up Woods’s brand of discontent with pleasure. Still, it wasn’t until journalist Chris Cuomo—brother of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) and son of former governor Mario Cuomo—became one of the hashtag’s early adopters that conservative social media users caught on to “Bengahzi.” Throughout the hearing, which was ostensibly focused on the details surrounding the attack, several hundred users—including public figures like Woods and even some journalists—neglected to pay any attention to the spelling of the city in question.

A few hours later, James Woods—the man who once swore to not talk politics on Twitter—took the reins and began heckling Clinton. Cable news’s worst judge shortly follows.

May we suggest that Woods keeps his day job of suing anonymous Twitter users over jokes about cocaine? He’s not cut out for a job as a social media manager, as evidenced by his continued egregious spelling errors.

Were Woods a social media manager, here’s hoping his boss would have given him a stern talking to. Also, frankly, the Democrats at this point in the hearing seemed rightfully bored with the rest of the panel’s display of warrantless aggression.

He gets one more glib statement in before figuring out his mistake. At this point, it’s too late—#BengahziHearing is one of the hashtags recommended when a user starts typing out #Ben.

Gah, indeed.


Photo Credit: Ray Slakinski

Hannah Gais is associate digital editor of The Washington Spectator.

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