A Sunday AMJoy segment on the Keystone XL pipeline failed to attribute reporting to the environmental site DeSmog’s writers Itai Vardi and Steve Horn—but the MSNBC host will correct it this coming weekend.
The controversy concerns a short segment Reid did on Sunday about Russian steel being used to build the Keystone XL pipeline. In the clip, Reid gives the basic facts: Despite Trump’s campaign promises to the contrary, Keystone won’t be made with US steel. Instead, the pipeline may be made with steel provided by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s company Evraz. But the story was first reported by Horn and Vardi, though the two reporters did not receive attribution for their work.
“Why not cite original story by me, @itai_vardi?” Horn asked Reid on Twitter Sunday afternoon. “Spent dozens of hours on it.”
A staffer on Reid’s team, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Paste that the error was unintentional and that the mistake would be corrected on next Saturday’s show.
The controversy began on Sunday when Reid hosted a panel discussion with United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, Bold Nebraska head Jane Kleeb, and Harry Potter aficionado Malcolm Nance on the Russian steel connection to Keystone. The information in the introductory clip was, Horn says, based entirely on reporting he and Itai Vardi did—and Reid did not acknowledge the source material.
“For the record: this story was first broke three weeks ago by @SteveAHorn and myself on @DeSmogBlog,” Vardi tweeted to Reid on Sunday. “Please provide credit.”
The connections between Abramovich and Keystone were not reported on elsewhere before Reid’s show (shortly thereafter, a Huffington Post article by Peter Lance recapped the situation—though he credited DeSmog).
The order of the facts in Reid’s 30 second breakdown of the information directly aligned with DeSmog’s reporting.
First, Reid notes that the steel is being made by a subsidiary of Evraz—Horn and Vardi also note this in the opening of their piece. Next, Reid points to Abramovitch. Horn and Vardi’s article’s next segment similarly introduces Abramovitch. Then, Reid highlights Abramovitch’s wife Dasha Zhukova and her relationship with Ivanka Trump. Horn and Vardi follow their overview of Abramovitch with a quick aside noting the connection between the First Daughter and Zhukova.
It’s likely that Reid came across the information in the first place during her Friday night appearance on hate-speech-purveyor Bill Maher’s HBO show Real Time. During the panel discussion, environmental activist Bill McKibben brought up the Russian steel connection. Anyone familiar with Reid’s work would be unsurprised to see her ears perk up at the possibility of connecting Trump to Russia. The relevant portion begins at the 3:42 mark.
Lonnie Isabel, a Senior Lecturer in Discipline at the Columbia School of Journalism, told Paste that if the MSNBC anchor was duplicating Horn and Vardi’s reporting, it would be common practice to attribute the work.
“Without attribution, it’s poor practice,” Isabel said.
But, he added, Reid’s misattribution doesn’t appear to be plagiarism.
“You’d need to prove intent,” Isabel explained.
You can reach Eoin Higgins on Facebook and Twitter.