Shaun King, ‘New York Daily News’ Columnist, Disproves Plagiarism Accusations: Accusers Should Apologize, Delete Tweets

Daily Beast writers and editors flooded Twitter yesterday, accusing New York Daily News social justice columnist Shaun King of plagiarism. However, the writer produced emails proving he had not plagiarized. The aftermath was the firing of a Daily News editor who either deliberately, or perhaps mistakenly, removed the links and quotes that originally appeared in King’s article.

To understand what happened, the situation has to be reviewed and analyzed. Coming to an objective conclusion requires that one factor is removed from the equation: personal dislike or affinity for King, who, to some, is a polarizing figure. Doing this takes more maturity and logic than some can muster, but investigating the fiasco surrounding the column in question is a good starting point.

First, Daily Beast editor Noah Shachtman noticed that a column written by King included a two-paragraph, direct quote from Beast writer Kate Briquelet, from an article on Elliot Earl Williams, a mentally ill veteran who died from a broken neck while in an Oklahoma jail.

Instead of Shachtman contacting Shaun King’s editors, the above tweet was posted to Twitter, and the accused responded in kind. Shortly thereafter, Dylan Byers wrote a column on the incident for CNN Money after King responded pronto by sending copies of his original columns, which included quotations marks and attributions, per the New York Post.

Byers then clarified that King had not plagiarized, per CNN Money.

“The New York Daily News has fired one of its editors for removing attribution from columns by writer Shaun King, which made it appear as though King had plagiarized the works of others.”

Jim Rich, Daily News editor-in-chief, informed CNN Money that a Daily News editor had “made a series of egregious and inexplicable errors,” and three different times made it appear as though excerpts from King’s columns were not attributed correctly. For his own (or maybe company policy), Rich didn’t reveal the name of the editor, but, according to Byers’ source, it was Jotham Sederstrom.

Seemingly, the most brutal part of the entire imbroglio is that not only did Schachtman accuse King, but other Daily Beast writers also did the same. When King responded, he was attacked by an online mob. Not only did he deny wrongdoing but also offered an explanation that the Daily Beast might have tried to ruin his reputation because of an affiliation with Chelsea Clinton.

“… Chelsea Clinton is on the board of the parent company of The Daily Beast. They ride HARD for Hillary. Sure that played a role.”

Schachtman’s tweets — and there were many — fueled the chaos.

King categorically denied guilt with some strong words of his own, added CNN Money.

“By in large, if you think I plagiarized a damn thing, you can kiss my a**. Feel free to quote that. Those are my words too.”

For some, anger, when under fire, is a natural reaction, and false accusations can cause tempers to flair. Rich continued to support King and said he has done nothing wrong, but because of the nature of social justice, the columnist faces undeserved scrutiny.

Despite all that has happened, Schachtman’s tweets remain online, and he has not apologized. If Schachtman doesn’t like Shaun King as a human being, Schachtman has that right. But he doesn’t have the right to incite an online mob against King, and in the spirit of professionalism, Schachtman should delete those tweets and apologize, and the writers that followed his erroneous lead should, too.

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