Shaun King, the controversial columnist of the New York Daily News, has been accused of plagiarism. The alleged stealing of sources was discovered by The Daily Beast, whose senior editor, Justin Miller, sent a tweet with a link to a story from his publication next to a Daily News column link by King. Both stories were about an African American who died in prison, allegedly because the jail was ill-equipped to handle the man’s mental illness.
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) April 19, 2016
The column by King had two paragraphs that were identical, word for word, with what appeared in The Daily Beast piece, written by Kate Briquelet. King’s piece even included a typographical error that was also in Briquelet’s original piece. But as originally published, the piece by King did not offer attribution to Briquelet, and so gave the appearance of being King’s own original writing.
But while the evidence appears convincing, the Daily News is defending King, attributing the alleged plagiarism to an editor error. The updated opinion piece by King now begins with the following note:
“Editor’s Note: An editing error mistakenly removed attribution to a story originally published by The Daily Beast. The mistake has been corrected. The News regrets the error.”
Daily News editor Jim Rich released a statement exonerating King that read in part, “We have discovered today that over the past few months one of our editors has made a serious of egregious and inexplicable errors. On at least three separate occasions, the editor deleted attribution that made it appear passages from Shaun King’s columns were not properly credited.”
Rich called the editor’s mistakes “unacceptable,” said the editor has been fired, and that past articles that that editor reviewed for print are being examined. Rich then defended King again.
“Because of the subject matter that Shaun tackles as senior justice writer, he faces intense — and often unfair — scrutiny. To suggest — as many already have — that Shaun has done anything wrong here — is completely inaccurate.”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) April 19, 2016
In an interview with Buzzfeed, King defended himself from the plagiarism accusation. In researching his topic, King said he discovered Kate Briquelet’s piece for The Daily Beast, “[H]er two paragraphs were written so well, that I just thought, ‘I’m just going to include them.’ And I thought her piece was so good that I made sure I said, according to Kate Briquelet of The Daily Beast, and I linked to her piece.”
King claimed that he discovered the allegations on Twitter, then checked his piece that was now online, and it doesn’t say according to Kate Briquelet of The Daily Beast, as he said he had originally attributed it. “I almost had an aneurysm,” King said when he realized the attribution was no longer there.
However, King tweeted other odd defenses of his alleged plagiarism, saying that he does not read his pieces before they go online, which Miller retweeted, resulting in a number of public tweets exchanged between the two.
King also defended himself in a tweet by seeming to suggest that Chelsea Clinton may have played a role in this scandal.
8. Also, Chelsea Clinton is on the board of the parent company of The Daily Beast. They ride HARD for Hillary. Sure that played a role.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) April 19, 2016
Miller responded with a tweet mocking King with an image of Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"Destroy Shuan King." [click] pic.twitter.com/e3A625g20D
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) April 19, 2016
That same day, Alex Griswold of Mediaite tweeted that in an earlier column, King had allegedly lifted a paragraph from a piece by FiveThirtyEight, also without attribution.
Here's Shaun King lifting an entire paragraph from FiveThirtyEight last week, without quotes or attribution. pic.twitter.com/QSp1mjzY78
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) April 19, 2016
King’s tenure at the Daily News has been marked by controversy. As CNN Money reports, King tweeted personal information about a CNN employee last December, and consequently was locked out from his Twitter account. He also called a black sportswriter for Fox News a “coon” and an Uncle Tom.
Shaun King has also been affiliated with the controversial organization Black Lives Matter. Last December, The Daily Beast reported that while King raised millions of dollars to support black families that lost members to police violence, “much of the largess either went into failed projects, King’s own pockets, or is unaccounted for.”
King, a former mega-church pastor who has over 200,000 followers on Twitter, denied accusations of wrongdoing.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]