The word “plagiarist” was floating around town today.
But WaPo race protestor Wesley Lowery is not a plagiarist — he just may be a liar or ethically challenged for not fully explaining that he didn’t really come up with the brainy idea of collecting data on police violence against civilians.
D. Brian Burghart blasted Lowery in a piece for Gawker Tuesday for never acknowledging that he gave Lowery the idea. The former editor and publisher of Reno News & Review says that back in 2012 he began collecting data and created a website and database called Fatal Encounters.
WaPo media writer Paul Farhi gave WaPo a blowjob for winning the recent Pulitzer. But perhaps his coverage should have been more investigative. He gave Lowery a huge round of applause for coming up with the idea. “Lowery was surprised to learn there were no official statistics….so Lowery pitched an idea to his editors: The newspaper, he suggested, should collect the information itself and analyze it for patterns in law enforcement.”
Burghart’s bombshell: “Except that’s not exactly how it went down,” he wrote. “I know, because I was the one who suggested the idea to Lowery.”
He called WaPo his “heroes” for its reporting of Watergate and admitted it was why he got into journalism.
Burghart doesn’t begrudge WaPo from winning the Pulitzer. In fact, he applied in 2015 and didn’t win and never applied again in 2016. But he wanted the publication not to have claimed to be the first entity to collect data on police killing and hurting civilians.
“Their project was easy to use and clear, and the paper’s reputation and readership all but guaranteed that the issue of police killings would get the attention it warranted. But the paper gave no credit to Fatal Encounters or any other grassroots data-collection project in their submission to the Pulitzer Board.”
Burghart is seriously disappointed in WaPo.
“It shouldn’t matter who collected data on police killings first, but it does. Claiming to be first when it was not, claiming not to know that other databases existed for years, and claiming to be comprehensive when it was not is, quite frankly, beneath the Washington Post.”
It’s a damning assertion against WaPo, Lowery and specifically Executive Editor Marty Baron, who signed the letter accompanying the newspaper’s submission to the Pulitzer Board.
Lowery did not return an email request for comment.
However, he was on the receiving end of a nasty takedown on Twitter by Politico media writer Kelsey Sutton.
SUTTON: After Pulitzer win, @WesleyLowery said “no one kept track of police shootings” before The Post — but that’s not true.
LOWERY: That’s not what I said.
SUTTON: Is it, “no one was keeping track of how many people were being killed by the police” ?
LOWERY: Said no one knew *exactly how many* – that remains true, because gov doesn’t track. Point was about lack of gov data.
SUTTON: Thanks for the clarification. Is there a reason that you didn’t tell PBS that @fatalencounters gave you the idea?
SUTTON: Also — just listened (again) you do say “no one was keeping track at the national level, & also even at state levels” right?
LOWERY: Because, much like the misquote you still have posted from me, that isn’t quite accurate @fatalencounters.
SUTTON: Are you saying that it’s not true that Burghart gave you the idea to build the database?
LOWERY: But your tweet remains inaccurate. In dozens of interviews don’t think ever claimed our project was “first.”
SUTTON: But you did say that “no one was keeping track” at national or state levels right?
LOWERY: For the second time, you have my email and your original tweet remains completely inaccurate.
SUTTON: Just sent you an email. look forward to your response!