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EXCLUSIVE
Reporter, editor say 'Jeff Gannon' plagiarized article

By John Byrne | RAW STORY EDITOR

A Massachusetts newspaper reporter and her then-editor have accused former White House correspondent 'Jeff Gannon' of plagiarizing an article at which the reporter was the only media witness, RAW STORY has learned.

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The alleged plagiarism was discovered by blogger Ron Brynaert, who has tracked other plagiarism by Gannon and various Talon News correspondents at his blog, WhyAreWeBackInIraq.

A Jun. 17, 2003 article published by Jim Guckert, who wrote under the pen name Jeff Gannon, contains numerous identical quotes and similar phrasing to an article written by Melissa Beecher for the Waltham Daily News Tribune five days earlier. A comparison of the two articles compiled by Brynaert follows.

In the article about a Massachusetts couple who refused to let their home-schooled children take a standardized test, Guckert used quotes identical to Beecher's article without attribution. Beecher was the only reporter in attendance at the couple's home the day the Department of Social Services came to collect the children.

Guckert did not respond to two email requests for comment.

The accusations by Beecher—and her editor—are sure to raise concern about Guckert's selection for a National Press Club event Apr. 8 titled, "What is a Journalist," and draw new attention to two paragraphs Guckert copied verbatim from the Associated Press in April, 2003. Both Beecher and her editor were shocked to hear the Guckert would be a panelist.

Beecher, who now writes for the Salem News, said she remembered the story Guckert apparently copied from vividly.

“I remember this particular story so vividly because of the people that were involved," Beecher told RAW STORY. "I had to wake up in the morning at six o'clock in the morning to get there at 6:15 because I had to be there when DSS arrived.”

"I do understand that major papers use the smaller papers as a way to get their news to know what’s going on in some of these smaller communities," she added, "but when direct quotes are used without attribution it’s not acceptable. Good reporters don’t do that. It’s upsetting to see that a nationally-recognized personality would.”

Beecher says she was the only reporter at the event.

“My frustration lies in that I was the only media at this particular event," she continued. "I saw what one person said to another person. I witnessed what the house looked like, the children’s state of mind, the interactions between people and the exchanges. And to see that appear in someone else’s story when they didn’t do the legwork is unethical and upsetting.”

Richard Lodge, editor-in-chief for the western division of the Massachusetts-based Community Newspaper Company, confirmed her account.

"What bothers me was that it was so clear that it was our story," Lodge told RAW STORY. "He was not there, and yet he represented to his readers that he was. She was the only reporter in that room. The fact that he didn’t attribute it, that he represented to readers that he was there was a lie. He is a liar.”

Lodge was startled to hear that Guckert would be a panelist at the National Press Club next week.

“He’s not a journalist," Lodge remarked. "And he misrepresented to anyone reading that website that this was his work, and it was not his work, plain and simple.”

"When somebody sets himself up to be a credible journalist, however the heck he did that—and I think it happened because nobody questioned him—then he is tainting all of us legitimate journalists," Lodge added. "Because whatever questions he’s asking, and whatever stories he’s allegedly writing, are suspect. And I think that makes readers suspect all of us.”

Lodge said he had spoken about the matter to their attorneys, who were "not planning" to take legal action.

Beecher was similarly aghast that Gannon would be considered for a panel at the Press Club.

“When I attend those conferences and I’ve been to many, you always think the person behind the desk that you’re learning from has qualifications that put them there," Beecher added. "It’s just disturbing that a person who is accused of doing what he did is now teaching the next generation of young reporters. Or fostering a dialogue between professionals in this business.”

“That’s just upsetting to real journalists that someone who does a copy and paste job has that title, or can be in the same circle that a lot of us pay our dues to be in,” she added. “I know reporters who paid their dues for years and years to even be considered as a White House correspondent, never mind making up your own news company and walking in.”

The National Press Club did not immediately respond to a call placed for comment early this afternoon.

RAW STORY reported on two other Talon News reporters who were accused of plagiarizing here and here in February of this year.

The following comparison of the two articles was compiled by Brynaert.


Home-schooling standoff in Waltham

By Melissa Beecher / CNC Staff Writer
Friday, June 13, 2003

Homeschooling Parents Threatened With Loss of Children
By Jeff Gannon
Talon News
June 17, 2003

Guckert -A homeschooling Massachusetts family clashed with workers of that state's Department of Social Services last week when the agency tried to force their children to take a standardized test.

Beecher - A legal battle over two home-schooled children exploded into a seven-hour standoff yesterday, when they refused to take a standardized test ordered by the Department of Social Services.

Guckert - At 7:45 a.m. Thursday, DDS workers and police came to the Waltham, MA residence of George and Kim Bryant to transport the couple's two children George Nicholas, 15, and Nyssa, 13, to a hotel to administer a test to determine their educational level.

Beecher - George Nicholas Bryant, 15, and Nyssa Bryant, 13, stood behind their parents, Kim and George, as police and DSS workers attempted to collect the children at 7:45 a.m. DSS demanded that the two complete a test to determine their educational level.

Guckert - Waltham Youth Officer Detective James Auld said, "We are simply here to prevent a breach of the peace, we will not physically remove the children."

Beecher - "We are simply here to prevent a breach of the peace," said Waltham Youth Officer Detective James Auld. "We will will not physically remove the children."

Guckert - DDS worker Susan Etscovitz adamantly told the Bryants, "We have legal custody of the children and we will do with them as we see fit."

Beecher - "We have legal custody of the children and we will do with them as we see fit," DSS worker Susan Etscovitz told the Bryants in their Gale Street home.

Guckert - The Waltham couple was ruled unfit because they did not file educational plans or determine a grading system for the children.

Beecher - The parents have been ruled as unfit because they did not file educational plans or determine a grading system for the children,

Guckert - Kenneth Pontes, area director of DDS said that it is possible that the children will be removed from their home, but that would be a last course of action.

Beecher - Pontes said that a possibility exists that the children will be removed from their home, but that was a last course of action.

Guckert - The Framingham Juvenile Court issued a court order at 1:00 p.m., and the Bryants drove their children to the hotel. But the children refused to take the test.

Beecher - After a court order was issued by Framingham Juvenile Court around 1 p.m., the children were driven by their parents to a Waltham hotel. Again, they refused to take the test.

Guckert - The Bryants believe that the city and the state do not have the legal right to force their children to take standardized tests.

Beecher - The Bryants contend that the city and state do not have the legal right to force their children to take standardized tests

Guckert - Both sides agree that the children have not been abused mentally, physically, sexually, or emotionally.

Beecher - Both sides agree that the children are in no way abused mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally.

Brynaert also caught Gannon apparently copying from two Associated Press articles in April, 2003.

Associated Press: "One of the slain clerics, Haider al-Kadar, was a widely hated loyalist of Hussein, part of the Iraqi leader's ministry of religion. The other was Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a high-ranking Shiite cleric and son of one of the religion's most prominent ayatollahs, or spiritual leaders, who was persecuted by Hussein. Al-Khoei had urged cooperation with U.S. troops."

Guckert: "One of the slain clerics, Haider al-Kadar, was a widely hated Saddam Hussein loyalist, part of the Iraqi leader's ministry of religion. The other was Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a high-ranking Shiite cleric and son of one of the religion's most prominent ayatollahs, or spiritual leaders, who was persecuted by Saddam. Al-Khoei had urged cooperation with U.S. troops."

Associated Press: "American troops have worked to block roads leading to Tikrit, hoping to keep Iraqi leaders from fleeing there as well as reinforcements from arriving."

Guckert: "American troops have worked to block roads leading to Tikrit, hoping to keep Iraqi leaders from fleeing there as well as reinforcements from arriving."

Correction: Lodge told RAW STORY had had spoken with the paper's attorneys, not that the matter had been "referred" to the attorneys.

 

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