Yesterday, in a post we published about an unfolding scandal in the Indoor Football League, we inadvertently left out a link, which made it appear that a quote from the Argus-Leader of Sioux Falls had instead come from KELO.
A sometime-journalist named Abe Sauer decided that this amounted to plagiarism, because he is a self-righteous moron who has no idea how mistakes get made. On his personal website—the principal outlet for his deservedly unwanted prose—he wrote up a post in which he accused Deadspin of stealing the quote and plagiarizing the Argus-Leader.
The fact that the passage was set off in blockquote format, Deadspin's standard house style to show that material is being quoted from an outside source, did not stop Abe Sauer from claiming that this was theft. In his own post about the matter, Sauer stripped out the formatting, falsely making it appear that Deadspin had presented the passage as plain text.
Whether Sauer did this because he is dishonest or because he is incompetent with HTML, we do not know or care.
(Disclosure: Abe Sauer has previously written for Deadspin. We have no reason to believe that his pieces were plagiarized. We have also previously fought with Sauer, on email and Twitter, about other holier-than-thou crap from him, not that he disclosed that in his own post. Perhaps he was motivated here solely by his longstanding narcissistic belief that he is the world's sole proprietor of and expert on any news events between the Rockies and the Appalachians and north of St. Louis.)
The blockquoted passage was accompanied by a citation, which erroneously credited it to KELO. Sauer concluded that this error in attribution was not an attribution error, but evidence of "an attempt to cover up the theft."
Jason Linkins, who writes for the Huffington Post—a publication whose entire business model is built on aggregation of stories reported and published elsewhere—decided that Sauer's accusations were worth covering. In an item published under a headline saying "Deadspin Poaches Quote," Linkins wrote that it "might have been a case of misattribution."
Nevertheless, Linkins devoted a post to it, in which he talked to the Argus-Leader reporter who'd gotten the quote, who told him this:
"I'm honestly not all that offended that my work was heavily borrowed. If I was I would've emailed Deadspin myself. I'm more bothered that a story that we basically had as an exclusive was credited to someone else, and as I told [Sauer], the sports guy from KELO-TV, a competitor of ours, reached out to me when he saw the story to let me know he was sorry that they had basically been credited for my work."
Linkins sent Deadspin editors an email at 11:36 p.m. yesterday, asking for comment, then published his item at 10:03 a.m. today, writing that his emails "were not returned overnight." Because we were asleep at 11:36, and in the morning we were still trying to figure out what had happened. But when you've decided to broadcast a halfassed accusation about the most serious journalistic crime there is, every second counts.
Jason Linkins is a schmuck and, as a writer for the Huffington Post making a stink about attribution in an aggregated item, a de facto hypocrite.
Deadspin apologizes to the Argus-Leader for any confusion, and we regret that Abe Sauer was ever born.