April 10, 2008, - 11:59 am
By Debbie Schlussel
**** UPDATE #2: Politico calls L.A. Times’ Wallsten to the mat for rip off of Schlussel. ****
**** UPDATE: E-mail Peter Wallsten’s L.A. Times Editor, Scott Kraft, and ask him why his reporter cannot practice proper attribution. ****
Recently, I received this e-mail from Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten, who covers the Obama campaign for the paper, regarding a column I wrote about Barack Hussein Obama:
From: Wallsten, Peter Peter.Wallsten@latimes.com
Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 3:25 PM
Subject: from Peter Wallsten, reporter for the LA Times
I’m looking into Obama’s ties to the Nation of Islam and I’m interested in what you’ve reported already. Is there any chance you’d be willing to take a few minutes to chat on the phone with me?
Los Angeles Times
[DS: Phone numbers redacted]
Because I am interested in my January column, on which I spent a lot of time and worked very hard, getting wider play–regarding Obama’s Nation of Islam staff, his friendship with Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah and Abunimah’s assertions that Obama is really, secrety pro-Palestinian, Obama’s attendance at an Edward Said dinner, and Obama’s blind Jewish supporters–I called Mr. Wallsten, per his request.
I spent a lot of time with him on the phone and told him he could use anything in my column, so long as my name and/or website was mentioned somewhere in the story. He agreed to do so, and told me he appreciated my help, despite the fact that he read on this site that his colleague, L.A. Times terrorism writer Josh Meyer, tried to trick me and rip me off when he came to Detroit and called me (as I mentioned on this site earlier).
Sadly, Mr. Wallsten did not keep his word and ripped me off. Today, he has an extensive article, “Allies of Palestinians See a Friend in Obama,” that–while not identical–clearly is an expansion of all of the information he gleaned from my column (and some other writers). Again, I’m not saying his “report” is a word-for-word plagiarism of what I wrote. It is not, and using my work as his basis, he did some further interviews. But, plagiarism is not necessarily a word-for-word rip off. It is the theft of ideas. And in this case, he clearly and admittedly read my column, and took what I wrote, expanding upon it. And a few portions of it contain virtually identical information with words and phrases mildly altered, such as this one:
The Senator has since “changed” his proclaimed views from those he expressed privately, in order to get Jewish donors and votes.
And he has succeeded in spades. Lee Rosenberg a top Illinois official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby is a big Obama donor. Ditto for former national AIPAC official Bob Asher. And Penny Pritzker of the pro-Israel family that owns Hyatt hotels.
Even as he won support in Chicago’s Palestinian community, Obama tried to forge ties with advocates for Israel. . . . As a presidential candidate, Obama has won support from such prominent Chicago Jewish leaders as Penny Pritzker, a member of the family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain, and who is now his campaign finance chair, and from Lee Rosenberg, a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
While Mr. Wallsten’s article is well-written, raises important points about Barack Obama, and should be read, he’s clearly not a man of his word who can be trusted. And he’s also clearly not a “reporter” or the original writer of a single thing in “his” story. He’s a rip-off artist who takes and expands upon others’ original work and research without an iota of credit.
So much for the conventional wisdom that bloggers write specious claims that cannot be trusted, whereas the mainstream media is the penultimate in accuracy and original reporting. In this case, the blogger–me–was the source material for the untrustworthy thief, the Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten.
Hey, Peter, still waiting for that mention you promised for using my work. But glad I didn’t hold my breath.
That–and repeated, unchecked theft of my work, like yours–would be the death of me.
Oh, and by the way, this is only the second time, in two weeks that a mainstream media “reporter,” er . . . regurgitating rip-off artist, has done this to me. Two weeks ago, Wall Street Journal reporter Chris Cooper admitted in an e-mail to me that he took my material for his story on former Hillary fundraiser Mehmet Celebi, but that he did not want to give my site “publicity,” so he didn’t mention it. Love those mainstream “journalistic ethics.” More on Mr. Cooper and what he did, in a future post. Stay tuned.
If you rip me off, it won’t go unnoticed.
Next time you see any article with Peter Wallsten in the byline, ask yourself who wrote it first. Because clearly, it wasn’t him. Same goes for Christopher Cooper of the Journal. And, unfortunately, so many others like them.
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