Tag Archives: ABC News

ABC News and Ted Koppel owe an apology for soiling the integrity of freelancers and the institution of journalism

12 Dec

Mr. Koppel, you owe an apology to the institution of journalism for soiling its integrity.

By Nate Thayer

December 12, 2013

Well, Mr. Ted Koppel, I, for one, would like to hear your response to my contention you pimped your reputation for integrity to ABC News/Disney Corporation in order to steal the life work of a freelance journalist. And then accepted a Peabody award for, well for doing exactly what, really?

This week has been a tad distracting, but I very much appreciate the overwhelmingly positive and supportive commentary from colleagues from around the globe over my objection to Ted Koppel and Nightline and ABC News, owned by the Disney Corporation, stealing my photographs, video, and exclusive eyewitness reports of Pol Pot, the cumulative result of more than a decade of my journalistic efforts, and ABC’s egregious violation of basic journalistic ethics and integrity by trying to take credit for that work, despite not having a single ABC employee assigned to all of South east Asia.

ABC TV stolen still pictures, in which they place four separate credits claiming this picture was taken by them and they had rights to distribute it. Note that, despite there not beingan employee of ABC news located in Southeast Asia at the time, there is no credit to the photographer of the picture

ABC TV stolen still pictures, in which they place four separate credits claiming this picture was taken by them and they had rights to distribute it. Note that, despite there not being an employee of ABC news located in Southeast Asia at the time, there is no credit to the photographer of the picture


Every freelance journalist on earth has faced untold numbers of similar experiences, but the cost of fighting back these huge media corporations makes most every case of this common practice almost impossible to fight back.

At least, in the case of the Pol Pot story and video and still images, the story was worth enough that lawyers, not my favorite category of people to spend my leisure time schmoozing with, were willing to take on my case.

It was not because they were outraged at the ethical and moral stench that this high-profile example of the routine treatment of freelance journalists by media behemoths represented.

It was because they knew they would make enough money to increase their tax bracket.

This allowed me to be able to fight back and win.

But, after 7 years of the most unpleasant life sucking process, after it became clear to ABC I would never be intimidated and never back down in the face of their behemoth corporate machinery, ABC demanded I sign a document saying I could never mention the issue again in public if they agreed to pay me for their clear-cut, intentional calculated theft and plagiarism of my copyrighted work.

Another ABC frame grab of my still pictures, taken after 15 years of work, which they distributed to the planet and took credit for

Another ABC frame grab of my still pictures, taken after 15 years of work, which they distributed to the planet and took credit for

I signed the document. I am now intentionally and without a scintilla of reservation or remorse violating that agreement. Because it an insult to the very fundamental premise of free speech and concept of a free press.

To demand that a journalist–that would be me– be forced to muzzle his right to free speech in order that another so-called icon of journalistic integrity compensate me for outright theft, after a very nasty, prolonged 7 year effort of blackmail, corporate intimidation, threats, bullying, and a bald attempt at bankrupting me, while Ted Koppel remained (and remains silent) shilling for his corporate pimps, was too much for me to stomach.

Koppel flew to Bangkok, signed a written legal contract promising to use the video for “Seven days North American rights only for video use only for Nightline only”, and then said to me: “You are going to have to trust me journalist to journalist” and looked me in the eye and shook my hand. That used to be the way journalists on deadlines dealt with each other. One had to trust another man’s word.

There was no time, and thank God, place for lawyers when a story needed to be written and produced and edited and researched and published on a very short tight deadline.

My still photograph, which became worthless on the international market after ABC TV America stole my pictures and tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work

My still photograph, which became worthless on the international market after ABC TV America stole my pictures and tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work

Ted Koppel then refused to talk to me for nine months. “My ABC lawyers have told me I can’t talk to you, ” is one direct quote, shortly after he got a hold of a copy of my video tape, which was transferred based on his personal word of honor and I accepted based on his reputation for integrity.

Ted Koppel had a price he was willing to sell his reputation for integrity, and by extension the integrity of the institution of journalism. That price was the instructions of his ABC/ Disney corporate bosses.

Then the ABC PR machine got a bit a head of themselves. They have an entire department devoted to applying for nothing but awards. And they made the mistake of applying for a Peabody award for their use of my stolen, copyrighted work, under my name, as a “correspondent for ABC Nightline.”

When I won, nine months after they stole my work, they had refused to pay me a penny until I signed a document saying they had done nothing wrong, I informed them I was scheduled to be in New York–ironically to accept another award for the annual “Courage in Journalism” given to the journalist who had “exhibited the most moral and physical courage in practicing his craft” that year.

I told Koppel I planned to attend the Peabody ceremony and, on stage, formally refuse the ward because “I in n o way wanted my name associated with egregious violation of journalistic ethics and integrity” that ABC television and Nightline had exhibited. My written invitation to the ceremony was rescinded by ABC and the Peabody awards and I was escorted from the Waldorf Astoria banquet hall by security guards, despite having not only been in a possession of a physical ticket but a recipient of one of the awards given that day.

I want to add here that I believe Koppel is indeed a man of integrity. He was one of the very best that American television had to offer. Which, in itself, is not saying much.

So, I signed the document where i promised to never speak a word disparaging of ABC on the matter, took the money they owed me, which virtually all went to lawyers and taxes, and am now saying “Fuck you ABC!”

You did what you did.

No one will ever force me to be gagged from telling the truth, particularly on issues that soil the reputation of the vital institution of a free press. The facts speak for themselves.

ABC, Ted Koppel, and Nightline, rightfully should be ashamed of themselves.

I am not and never will be.

Has anyone noticed, that after 3000+ FB reposts, tens of thousands of Twitter comments, tweets, and re-tweets, neither Koppel, ABC, Nightline, or Disney corporation has uttered a single comment or response?

Their silence speaks for itself.

I, for one, would welcome their constructive comments on this issue. I believe it would contribute to a healthier state of the now very sad state of the institution of journalism.

I suspect they will be required to consult their massive legal department and corporate bosses before they are allowed to open their mouths.

And, the fact is, the powers to be at ABC, and the ABC’s that, today, control the media in free societies don’t really care whether they are selling toothpaste or quality journalism to free people.

If they can make more money selling toothpaste, they will sell toothpaste. Maybe journalism, and free people, would be better off if they choose to sell toothpaste.

There is a reason that public opinion polls rank the credibility and trustworthiness of journalists at the same level they do used car salesman, members of Congress, and lawyers. And I for one am tired of having my reputation soiled by them.

While I harbor no animosity towards ted Koppel personally, I do take grave exception to the undermining of the ethical foundation of the institution of journalism. I take that very personally.

Mr. Koppel, you owe an apology to the institution of journalism for soiling its integrity.

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Corporate Power, ABC TV and Ted Koppel tried to censor the free speech of a free man in a free country. Fuck that.

10 Dec

Corporate power tried to steal my life work.

ABC  TV and Ted Koppel tried to censor the free speech of a free man in a free country.

Fuck that.

ABC TV stolen pictures frame grab from my copyrighted work. Count them--four separate credits demanding ABC be given credit for photographs taken when ABC did b not even have a staff person in all of Southeast Asia. This photo was hand delivered to the New York Times, The AP and posted on ABC's website

ABC TV stolen pictures frame grab from my copyrighted work. Count them–four separate credits demanding ABC be given credit for photographs taken when ABC did b not even have a staff person in all of Southeast Asia. This photo was hand delivered to the New York Times, The AP and posted on ABC’s website

Discuss freedom.

I would like to define this discussion, where it belongs: The power of corporate thugs using their money to put their jackboot on the necks of of freelance creative artists must stop.

It is time to draw the line and demand that we, as writers, photographers, musicians, creative artists are worthy. Our work should be respected and compensated as such.

Unlike the Atlantic magazine headache of a few months ago, let’s use our power to define the debate.

Please discuss.

Whatever the content of your opinion, of the  discussion, is fine. Whatever point of view you have, is legitimate.

But the censoring of free speech is not. Full stop. I will be damned before I allow a 10 cent lawyer to tell me when I can open my mouth and say what I want, or not, especially if it is the documented truth.

Fuck their money and their self delusion of power. I am free and intend to remain so.

My earlier blog post on the raw facts of the failed attempt of ABC TV–and their corporate owner–Disney–and Ted Koppel allowing himself to be a common streetwalker for his pimps, has gone viral.

I would like to hear from @ABC and @TedKoppel and @Disney what their response is. Are you selling quality journalism to free people, or are you only trying to deliver viewers and page hits to advertisers?

I respect Ted Koppel. It is why I chose him to bring the story of Pol Pot to North America. But he allowed himself to be a pimp for ABC/Disney in exchange for cash money. That is a fact. Of course he feels guilty. Ted Koppel, I believe, is a moral man. He was, ironically, the best that American TV had to offer. So take responsibility, Mr. Koppel. You will further contribute to the return of quality journalism to free people by doing so. You will be able to look yourself in the mirror without flinching at what you see. I can, mostly, now. As can you. But mostly isn’t good enough for you or me.

How Ted Koppel and ABC TV Tried to Steal my Life Work

8 Dec

How Ted Koppel and ABC TV Tried to Steal my Life Work

By Nate Thayer

December 8, 2013

I am banned by legal agreement to write the following: ABC Television/ Disney Corporation, after seven years in court, where they attempted to bankrupt me and ruin my reputation for objecting to them stealing fifteen years of my life work, buckled and paid me. They have the legal right to take back the money they finally paid me–which actually all went to lawyers and taxes–if I open my mouth.

Fuck them.

Good luck getting blood from a stone while trying to attempt to muzzle a free person in a free society while claiming you are an icon of the free press and free speech

So here goes…..

On July 25, 1997, I was the first outsider to meet Pol Pot since he killed 1.8 million people 20 years before.

It was, for a couple of days, the biggest story in the world. I, as a freelance journalist, had the only photographs and video and eyewitness account that existed since Pol Pot did what he did. It was a tumultuous few days of dealing with the very worst of what the big media companies represented.

Ted Koppel, of ABC Nightline, flew to Bangkok to view the video and signed a written contract for “North American video rights only for 7 days.” ABC America–owned by Disney–told Koppel to sign whatever Thayer asks for–our lawyers will deal with it later. He is just a freelancer. Give him whatever he wants. We can bankrupt him if he objects.

As soon as ABC, which had exactly zero correspondents in Southeast Asia, got a hold of a copy of the tape, which Ted Koppel personally and in writing promised he would not allow any frame grabs to be made into still pictures, or allow the video to be distributed to anyone outside of Nightline, or allow the transcript of the text of the video to be shown to anyone else, ABC created the below frame grabs from the video, distributed it personally to numerous news outfits, including the AP and the New York Times, where it appeared on their front page above the fold, and ABC placed them on their website crediting themselves with having taken the image.

My picture, credited to ABC TV, was published on the front pages of hundreds of newspapers around the world, my footage was distributed around the globe, and my story was written in virtually every major news organ on earth, credited to ABC TV, before I actually had written my own story . which was published with the integrity and dignity and seriousness it deserved in my excellent publication, the Far Eastern Economic Review.

1018923 Pol Pot ABC Frame Grab Pic

ABC TV stolen pictures frame grab from my copyrighted work. Count them--four separate credits demanding ABC be given credit for photographs taken when ABC did b not even have a staff person in all of Southeast Asia. This photo was hand delivered to the New York Times, The AP and posted on ABC's website

ABC TV stolen pictures frame grab from my copyrighted work. Count them–four separate credits demanding ABC be given credit for photographs taken when ABC did b not even have a staff person in all of Southeast Asia. This photo was hand delivered to the New York Times, The AP and posted on ABC’s website

ABC distributed transcripts of the trial of Pol Pot I had made and allowed other news organizations to view the video tape with strict instructions to credit ABC for the images and story, and then refused to pay me anything unless I signed a release that they did nothing wrong and I promised not to take legal action against them.

I refused.

Nine months later, I won the Peabody award as a “correspondent for ABC Nightline.”

Ted Koppel called me up, nervous, to congratulate me.

I said “Fuck you! Where is my fucking money? I am going to go to the Peabody awards ceremony and refuse the award and tell the planet what unethical thieves ABC are and how you, Ted Koppel, acted as their pimp.” I was then banned from attending the award ceremony, escorted out of the Waldorf Astoria hotel banquet room by security guards.

I spent seven years in court fighting ABC.

I won, sort of.

It sucked the life out of me, which was the exact intention of ABC: to make my life as miserable and expensive and distracted as possible to punish me for objecting to bald plagiarism, fraud, and theft. They tried to bankrupt me and ruin my reputation.

But ABC fucked with the wrong person. They will never fuck with Nate Thayer again.

It was worth it. They thought I would back down in the face of their team of hundreds of staff lawyers and corporate power.

I refused.

Such is the life of freelance journalism.

Every freelance journalist alive has suffered under the corporate jackboot of the ABC’s of the media world, their work stolen and never compensated. Usually it is not possible to pay for a legal team to fight them to get remunerated for one’s work.

Above and below are a couple of the still pictures, still available by a simple Google search online.

Another ABC frame grab of my still pictures, taken after 15 years of work, which they distributed to the planet and took credit for

Another ABC frame grab of my still pictures, taken after 15 years of work, which they distributed to the planet and took credit for

These are just some examples of the still picture ABC frame grab’s ABC took from the video and distributed to the world, voiding scores of contracts I had sold for my stills for exclusive rights.I had scores of contracts for the sale of still pictures, video, and stories cancelled around the globe overnight.

ABC tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work. Below is one of my original still photographs, which became worthless overnight because  a degraded version was available for free from the ABC website.

CAMBODIA-POL-POT/WALK

One of my actual still photographs–taken by me–with a Nikon F-4 on July 25, 1997—the first pictures of Pol Pot taken since he murdered 1.8 million people during his 3 years 8 months and 20 days in power

polpot.abc

My still photograph, which became worthless on the international market after ABC TV America stole my pictures and tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work

My still photograph, which became worthless on the international market after ABC TV America stole my pictures and tried to take credit for 15 years of my life work

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