We're marking his departure with a questionnaire: What was your favorite Benton Strong memory?
Staff writer Heidi Groover:
Hmmmm, tough one. Was it the time he texted me to complain that I included a skeptical voice in a post about the mayor’s police reform efforts and then, when pressed, told me what he was really looking for was “The stranger endorsing this massive thing?” Or was it his response when asked about a $100,000 city survey (“Would be worth talking to an expert about [polls]. I am one, btw”)? The several times he complained to me about something written by my colleagues instead of going to them directly, or the many, many times he texted me to complain about something I tweeted? Is it his obsession with the phrase “those who know don’t talk, those who talk don’t know,” which he employed after his boss faced allegations of child rape? Or his attempt to defend himself for claiming my colleague was not a real journalist after she reported on those allegations? Was it the time he defended Sean Spicer? Or the other day when he mocked another reporter for having too few Twitter followers? Or was it last week when, after I asked for clarification on an executive order issued by his new boss, interim mayor Bruce Harrell, he replied “you expect me to be able to answer questions about something we issued?” No, of course not, Benton. What was I thinking?
Staff writer Sydney Brownstone:
My favorite memory of Benton Strong as Ed Murray's communication director is when he told me I wasn't a journalist. After I sent Benton a link to the announcement that the Society of Professional Journalists of Western Washington had named me journalist of the year, he responded: "I played one great basketball game in my life too. Doesn't make me a basketball player." A couple of months earlier we had argued over a post I wrote noting that the New York Times had neglected to mention that one of Murray's accusers was his foster son; he suggested this was unfair in the absence of another post I could have written about a supposed smear against the mayor from a different accuser's lawyer.
Staff writer Ana Sofia Knauf:
My favorite memory of Benton Strong is when he pulled former Stranger social media manager Jessica Fu and me aside at a No New Youth Jail protest outside former Mayor Ed Murray's Capitol Hill home, and demanded a dark photo of Murray's home be taken off our Twitter feed. We refused. He insisted other news sites had taken their photos at his request and the Stranger was the only publication to decline. Fun fact: The then-mayor's address was (and is still) public knowledge.
Also, this text exchange:
News editor Steven Hsieh:
My favorite memory involving Benton Strong was when we didn't get coffee. We were supposed to meet on April 7, my third day on the job. But the day before our scheduled date, the Seattle Times published allegations from three men claiming Strong's boss sexually assaulted them. We never got that coffee.
If you have any memories of Benton that you'd like to share anonymously (or not!), please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We received this, from someone who identifies as "Just another PIO For the City":
I'm pretty sure I never treated any of you as badly as Benton Strong has.
Don't assume he treated the professionals he worked with much better. I referred to Benton and Will as bad cop/ good cop, and you can figure out who was who.
Only because I didn't want to jeopardize my boss's relationship with his boss did I not "panic and throw a bloody fit."