That’s great, but his whole “I just want to make comics and get paid for it. The less complicated the better” doesn’t quite ring true when he also, by his own admission, runs a small business (employing an assistant, his mother, his stepfather, and three retired friends of his mother’s, he says) that sells everything from signed prints of his art to lip balm. His claim that he doesn’t have a publicist and it was his mother who declined Stuef’s requests for an interview aren’t true, Stuef says; it was a woman named “Amanda DiMarco.” There is an Amanda DiMarco on LinkedIn as “PR and Business Development” for The Oatmeal. According one of Inman’s pre-Oatmeal blog entries, his mother’s name is Ann.

But none of that really matters, since Stuef screwed up by relying on a fake profile. The gaffe calls the accuracy of the rest of his reporting into question and set him up for an incredible shredding from his profile subject. Stuef maintains that, while he regrets the error, Inman’s refusal to participate in the profile caused this to happen.

“I was depending on past reporting and interviews, as he declined to be interviewed by me about any of it,” Stuef said. (Neither Inman, nor his mother, nor Amanda DiMarco responded to CJR’s request for comment.)

Real journalism is more than just playing Internet detective. If Buzzfeed wants to be taken seriously as a news source, its contributors simply cannot make these mistakes. Those who do must be held accountable by more than just their profile subjects, few of which have the kind of platform Inman does.

UPDATE: Here’s Buzzfeed editor in chief Ben Smith’s statement on the matter:

The original article had a serious factual error, which we corrected
fully and within an hour of its publication three days ago, and which
we deeply regret. On a personal note, I think some Oatmeal comics are hilarious.

 

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Sara Morrison is a former assistant editor at CJR. Follow her on Twitter @saramorrison.