If a reporter plagiarizes the work of another reporter, while calling him a "white supremacist," what does that make her?
On May 29, the CNN show, Paula Zahn Now did a story—well, sort of—on the crime I have dubbed the Knoxville Horror. In that January 7, 2007 atrocity, a young white couple—Channon Gail Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom Jr., 23—were carjacked, kidnapped, both gang-raped, tortured and murdered in Knoxville, Tennessee. Four suspects in the rape-murder and one who is charged with being an accessory after the fact, all of whom are black, are in custody. Defendants Letalvis “Rome” Cobbins, Lemaricus “Slim” Davidson, George Geovonni “Detroit” Thomas and Vanessa Coleman are scheduled to be tried in separate state trials, beginning from May to August. In December, Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols announced that he will seek the death penalty for Cobbins, Davidson, Thomas and Coleman. Eric Boyd is charged with having harbored the fugitive Davidson after the slayings, and will be tried in federal court next month as an accessory after the fact to carjacking, which is a federal crime.
I say Paula Zahn Now “sort of” did a story, because guest host Kiran Chetry and reporter Rusty Dornin were not so much reporting on the crime as on the protests against the crime as yet another example of rampant, racially motivated black-on-white violence by what they referred to as “white supremacists.” (I refer to them as “white supremacist/neo-Nazi/whatevers –WS/NN/Ws.)
Reporter Rusty Dornin interviewed Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield in her newspaper’s offices, where Satterfield complained about all of the hate mail she’d been getting from white “racists” charging her with covering up the racial nature of the crime.
Satterfield is, to my knowledge, the only journalist to write more on the Knoxville Horror than I have. Prior to last May, she stuck to the facts of the case, but as the first, May 26 rally neared, she began producing editorials disguised as news stories, or what I call “reportorials,” attacking anyone who would state the obvious, to wit, that the kidnapping, gang rape, torture and murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom were racially motivated.
Though Dornin never mentioned me by name, she suggested I am also a “white supremacist,” when she showed a screen capture shot of my May 14 American Renaissance Web report on the Knoxville Horror, as she narrated, “Sites with white supremacist agendas made their own headlines.” (Read the transcript here. See the video here.)
Dornin neglected to tell her viewers that that “white supremacist” Web site was where she (or her producer) had learned that Hal Turner had spread the rumor that the attackers had genitally mutilated their victims, which had burned across the Internet; thus, it was her primary source for that story. The genital mutilation rumor and an interview with Turner are among the highlights of her story. (The parenthetical references to Dornin’s producer are because in TV news magazines, typically the producer researches and writes the story, and even conducts the on-camera interviews. The so-called reporter is typically a mere performer reading the script the producer wrote for her.)
Since the other main aspect of Dornin’s broadcast, the May 26 Knoxville protest, had already been covered by the Knoxville media, without my work, Dornin would have simply echoed the Knoxville media, none of whom had tracked down the rumor. It was her plagiary of my work that allowed her to deceive her viewers into thinking she had done original research.
But why, a skeptical reader might ask, should anyone believe that Dornin plagiarized my May 14 story?
1. The screen capture shot of my May 14 story acknowledges that either she or her producer (depending on who wrote her script) read my story;
2. No one prior to me had tracked the genital mutilation rumors back to their source; and
3. Dornin even plagiarized an error I had made in my May 14 article, in identifying Turner as living “in New York.” He lives in New Jersey. I corrected that error in a revised, expanded version of the article that American Renaissance published in its July, 2007 issue.
Thus, there was nothing original in Dornin’s story.
(CNN identifies Turner as “HAL TURNER, EXTREMIST INTERNET BLOGGER,” rather than as a radio host, in order to use him for its ends, but without granting the quid pro quo of letting him gain any listeners. That’s not cricket. I am unaware of CNN ever identifying a leftist or black or mestizo racial supremacist as an “extremist,” or refusing to identify a radio host with such politics as a radio host. As it is, Turner is no longer broadcasting, but he was at the time.)
If American Renaissance has a “white supremacist agenda[s],” what does that make a reporter who plagiarizes American Renaissance?
Had Dornin done her homework regarding American Renaissance, she would know that its founder, Jared Taylor, has pointed out that he could more accurately be called an “Asian supremacist” than a white supremacist. Taylor is a race realist.
(For the record, while I consider myself a race realist, anyone who knows me knows that the notion that I would identify so strongly with any human collectivity that I would derive my feelings of superiority from membership in it, is ludicrous. If I were an adherent of any ideology, it would be that of Marxism: The philosophy, science, and praxis of Groucho Marx.)
Plagiarism is such a big issue because it involves stealing another person’s labor and an utter lack of intellectual (in this case, journalistic) integrity. It took me just under two months and over 200 hours to put together my May 14 story. Since Dornin or her producer ripped off my work, and used previously shot film of the May 16 rally, the story’s only time requirement involved the producer or an assistant reading my article and a few others, and Dornin or the producer flying out to Knoxville for one day to interview Satterfield. Had viewers known that Dornin and her producer had ripped off my story, they would have had a much different reaction to the script’s condemnation of American Renaissance as having “white supremacist agendas.”
One month after Paula Zahn Now presented its plagiarized Knoxville Horror story, CNN cancelled the program, which aired for the last time on August 2. Even stealing other people’s work could not buck up the show’s anemic ratings. The network did not make an offer to Zahn to continue working for it.
Zahn was replaced by host Rick Sanchez, who recently made a fool of himself trying to hype a minor, humorous moment in the John McCain campaign into a scandal. At a public forum, a female follower of the Arizona senator had asked of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, “How do we beat the bitch?” In a desperate attempt to turn the moment into a story, Sanchez editorialized on-air endlessly about it, claiming that it had offended all women everywhere, or at least those among his studio staff, while presenting his socialist and feminist bona fides to viewers.
Googling under CNN + “plagiarism policy” returned 367 entries of stories that CNN did on other institutions’ plagiarism problems. This story will, to my knowledge, be the first entry on a plagiary committed by CNN.
It’s been a bad year for “TV news reader” Paula Zahn, who after having for years squandered all of her money on shopping sprees, cheated on her real-estate mogul husband of 22 years with another tycoon, was cancelled by CNN, and, in an attempt to squeeze her husband in divorce court, let herself be publicly humiliated by her divorce attorney.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.