Last Friday, Fox News ripped off my exclusive coverage of the trial of Army Capt. Bryant Williams, who was convicted of bribing and accepting kickbacks from military contractors in Iraq. The network passed my reportage off as its own through at least 13 affiliates from coast to coast.
To be more specific, one or more anonymous employees of a Fox affiliate lifted large portions of my coverage for their own story, sometimes using my exact phrasing and often reporting information that they could only have learned from me, without attribution or a byline.
On Monday, I called a Fox employee "Rod," who declined to give his last name and affiliation as a "security thing," and told him that I suspected that the story was plagiarized. continued
During our conversation, he revealed that none of the Fox stories that I suspected were plagiarized had sources and said that he found this "unusual."
Hours after the conversation, a new Fox story appeared with a byline (Luke Funk) at 7:44pm EST, based on a Manhattan U.S. Attorney's press release. The details exclusive to my original coverage were removed from this newer, cleaner version.
No correction to the original coverage. No attribution. No transparency. Nothing to see here, folks.
In its original, borrowed coverage, Fox declined to steal portions of my coverage that, in my humble opinion, made my original reportage "fair and balanced." Call Fox's version of my story "Pared Down and Plagiarized."
To paraphrase Emile Zola: J'accuse, Fox News!
I accuse Fox News because no other journalist was sitting with me in the courtroom when I reported the facts that the news outlet lifted. When reached for comment, defense attorney David Greenfield said he had "no recollection" of seeing or speaking to any journalist other than me during the trial.
Anything not covered in a court document, Fox could not know.
For example, court documents identify the military contractors as Contractor-1 and Contractor-2. Only through court testimony could one learn that these anonymous individuals were Harith Aljabawi and Mike Naji, the owners of Joshua Construction and Phoenix Contractors.
Unless Fox sent an invisible correspondent to cover the same testimony that I did, it learned about their identities from me, and then published the information - without attribution - in its original story.
I also reported that these contractors delivered inconsistent testimony and entered into cooperation agreements with the government after Aljabawi admitted to accepting $500,000 in corrupt money, but Fox apparently did not think this information was significant for its readers to know.
On the one hand, I could hardly welcome more extensive plagiarism of my article, but Fox stripped meaningful context for its readers. Still, make no mistake: Fox found plenty more reportage and phrasing of mine to nick.
In a previous story about deliberations, I wrote, "Williams claimed that the tens of the thousands of dollars, most of which he kept in locked duffel bags, were gambling winnings from card games with military contractors."
The anonymous author(s) of the Fox article wrote that Williams "claimed the tens of thousands of dollars in cash he had in locked duffel bags were gambling winnings."
The two sentences are nearly identical.