What's amazing about BuzzFeed's perpetual amnesiac/wayward-husband approach to its ethical guidelines (Today is the first day of the rest of our ethics!) is that the person who has to give voice to this ever-evolving set of rationalizations about the trial-and-error nature of developing ethics is the stolidly conventional Ben Smith, who certainly 10 years ago when I shared a newsroom with him, at the New York Observer, showed no signs of not being fully socialized to professional standards. In fact, in that light, his absurd and instantly disprovable messaging about the need to define and restrict BuzzFeed writers' use of personal opinion becomes intelligible—it is meant, consciously or unconsciously, as an appeal to stodgy, ultra-conventional journalistic values. He did not violate basic standards because he is at the helm of a post-moral money-making machine that only impersonates journalism to the extent it helps with its branding, but because he was uncomfortable with this newfangled opinion-slinging.

Contact the author at scocca@gawker.com.