Smith in 2012
Benjamin Eli Smith
1976 (age 42–43)
New York City, U.S.
|Alma mater||Yale University|
Liena Zagare (m. 2002)
|Parent(s)||Dian Goldston Smith|
Robert S. Smith
Smith was born and raised in the Upper West Side of New York City, the son of author Dian (née Goldston) and attorney Robert S. Smith, who served as an associate judge on the New York Court of Appeals. His mother was Jewish and a Democrat while his father was a Christian and conservative. He greatly admired his grandfather, a novelist that also ghostwrote for Mickey Mantle and Tommy John, and his grandmother a Mark Twain scholar. He graduated with a B.A. summa cum laude from Yale University in 1999, where he wrote for The Yale Herald and The New Journal magazine. He was a resident of Yale's Morse College. Smith first got the bug for journalism after his junior year of college as an intern at The Forward.
Smith's first professional reporting job was doing the crime beat for The Indianapolis Star. He then moved to Latvia to take a position at The Baltic Times and also began reporting for Wall Street Journal Europe (until 2001). Smith has also written for the New York Sun (2002–2003), the New York Observer (2003–2006) and wrote a political column for the New York Daily News (2006–2007)  Between 2004 and 2006, Smith also started three of the leading New York City political blogs, the Politicker, the Daily Politics, and Room Eight.
Smith wrote for the news outlet Politico from 2008 to 2011, joining as that site expanded. Joining Politico from the New York Daily News in 2007, Smith covered the Democratic presidential primary for Politico in 2008. He covered controversies including Barack Obama's contacts with former Weatherman Bill Ayers and conspiracy theories about Obama's citizenship and Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories. Smith reported erroneously during that 2008 campaign that John Edwards would be dropping out of the race before the press conference at which Edwards announced that his wife Elizabeth had cancer. Smith later posted an apology and retracted the story. In 2010, he reported on a confidential Republican National Committee fundraising presentation counseling the party to capitalize on fear.
In January 2017, Smith, as Buzzfeed's editor, published the Steele dossier, a 35-page dossier about Donald Trump, which major news organizations, including the New York Times and NBC News, refused to publish due to lack of credible evidence. Smith defended his decision by saying, "We have always erred on the side of publishing."
Since working at BuzzFeed, Smith has focused on strengthening the organization's investigative journalism unit. In 2012, Fast Company placed Smith on its "100 Most Creative" list. He and Buzzfeed co-founder Jonah Peretti were listed as two of the most powerful people in the media by The Hollywood Reporter. In 2017, he and fellow Jewish journalist Andrea Mitchell were awarded The Jewish Daily Forward's Distinguished Journalism Award.
Smith interviewed Obama in early 2015 for Buzzfeed's first presidential interview.
I grew up in a household where my parents disagreed on pretty much everything and it makes it hard for you to be a real ideologue or to sort of -- you know, or to see the opposing side. To see these two sides is irreconcilable enemies. She's a Democrat and he's also fairly Christian. She's Jewish.