CNN on Hayne

Friday, August 21st, 2009

So I guess the important thing here is that CNN is giving the Steven Hayne story national attention.

That’s great.

And I guess I shouldn’t dwell too much on the fact that CNN piggybacked on my three years of reporting without giving me even the slightest acknowledgment. Journalists who have been in the game far longer than I tell me this kind of thing happens all the time. Bigger outlets don’t really feel obligated to credit smaller ones for breaking stories.

Still. A little frustrating.

I’m fairly sure CNN didn’t just stumble into this story on its own. The network’s producers spoke with two of my sources who say CNN’s people explicitly told them that they found their names through my Reason pieces.

Oh well. If this focuses more national attention on Hayne, West, and the people victimized by them, all the better.

Just. You know. A little hat tip would be nice. That’s all.

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57 Responses to “CNN on Hayne”

  1. #1 |  Mark Robbins | 

    Yet another reason i hate CSI. It gives credence to assholes like this.

  2. #2 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Take them to Small Claims Court. Make sure you name the CEO & CFO of CNN in the suit. The beauty of Small Claims is that a) it’s obviously done more for justice than $ (max award in CA SCC is $5K) and whoever’s named in the suit has to appear. No lackeys or flunkys can take their place. So they’ll have to make a choice: do we waste a valuable day in court, or do we pay this guy off (thus tacitly acknowledging his claim)? I don’t have to tell you what the suits do 90% of the time.

  3. #3 |  Tokin42 | 

    +1 on the press for finally telling a story that everyone needs to hear.

    -1 for the press not giving credit when it is obviously due.

    congrats radley, at least we (and your mom) know where this story started.

  4. #4 |  Radley Balko | 

    It’s not a theft or IP issue. And I’d have philosophical problems with pretending that it is to win money. There’s no claim to “owning” a story. It’s more just a professionalism thing — it’s about acknowledging someone else’s work, especially if you relied upon it for your story.

  5. #5 |  MacGregory | 

    I used to get pissed when people stole my ideas for projects and such in college. I don’t know how you’re keeping it together. Fucking ingrates.

  6. #6 |  Sydney Carton | 

    Easy solution: have your sources only play ball with CNN and others in the MSM if those media attribute the story to you, or include you in some way. No sources, no story.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    How about all your sources wear Agitator gear.

  8. #8 |  Taktix® | 

    This reminds me of when I was working for local papers and the TV “journalists” would just record the answers to my questions for their newscasts.

    Irritating, but not surprising, since a TV newscaster’s job it just to look pretty on camera…

  9. #9 |  packratt | 

    Could be worse Radley, you could be as small-time as our site is. Even small weekly mags take my stuff and run with it as if it’s their own.

    Of course, the worst was when the local sheriff took what I wrote explaining why she had no choice but to give one of her officers paid leave instead of firing him on the spot because of state laws and used it as her press release.

    I feel your pain, sorry.

  10. #10 |  dsmallwood | 

    have you considered refreshing your profile photo? y’know, you could make an effort to be more telegenic.

    maybe you could use that one from’s posting … the one where the guy put the “Dawn of the Dead” zombies in the background.

  11. #11 |  Jeremy | 

    Sorry you didn’t get credit for this, but I hope it’s gratifying to have such an injustice moved to the national spotlight. As always, exceptional journalism on your part.

  12. #12 |  Bee | 

    It *is* good that they are paying attention to what you’ve turned up. It would be even better if they credited you, which could help you do even more work in the same vein. F-ing vampires.

    And I second dsmallwood! I think I remember your photo is a little dark. I remember another photo that was a little blurry. You’re getting famous enough – I’d love to see you in a real professional-looking head shot. *Smiling*. LOL

  13. #13 |  Javad | 

    Great work… sadly Hayne seems to be the zombie… looks like he’s gonna start up again in spite of all the neagtive info

  14. #14 |  PogueMahone | 

    This somehow reminds me of that scene in Men In Black where Jay and Kay pull up to a kiosk and buys a bunch of tabloid rags…

    Jay: “These are the hotsheets?”
    Kay: “Best investigative reporting on the planet. But go ahead, read the New York Times if you want. They get lucky sometimes.”

    Go ahead, watch CNN if you want. They get lucky sometimes.

    Anyway, Balko, you get a tip of the hat from me.


    p.s. Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that this blog compares to a tabloid rag. Anything but, in fact. It’s just that this reminded me of that scene. :)

  15. #15 |  BoogerPresley | 

    Keep up the good work Radley- we know who did the heavy lifting on this story.

  16. #16 |  Mark Robbins | 

    Good job Radley, really an edifying afternoon for me checking through your work on hayne and maye. And the right attitude about your work. It must be tough to not be attributed but suing or getting pissed off would be such a douche move. Can’t believe people are actually suggesting it.

    As a new reader from one of those commie sites that linked to you over the past week or so I’d say you have a decent idea of how to build an audience. Better than your commenters, thankfully.

  17. #17 |  Ride Fast | 

    Another Reason (heh) for MSM to die already. Many tens of thousands of readers will know the truth though. Your well known Radley, you even get a lot of play among the gun bloggers.

  18. #18 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Radley–Small Claims is not so much about $ as redress of grievances. You could sue CNN for $1. The key is who you name in your suit. If you go with the higher-ups, the better chance you have that they’ll settle. Win-win.

  19. #19 |  Chris in AL | 

    The MSM seems dead set on downplaying the role of “Bloggers” in the news. They regularly claim that they are a problem. So two points on that.

    1. That doesn’t stop them from using bloggers for stories.

    2. Radley, you are well beyond ‘blogger’ status. Your Fox column and certainly your role at Reason, and your extensive body of work, put you fully in the realm of an investigative journalist, who has a blog.

    They didn’t just piggyback on some blogger. You are a colleague, and one they can hope for more good stories from in the future. If they cared about such a relationship, they would have given you an acknowledgment. If they were smart, they would have interviewed you for their story.

  20. #20 |  qwints | 

    Best line in the story:

    “‘That confession was part of the facts that were presented to Dr. Hayne. And based on Dr. Hayne’s findings of his autopsy report, he said it was more in tune with what the defendant had already confessed to,’ said Danks.”

    Know that you made a difference even if you don’t get any credit.

  21. #21 |  Mark Robbins | 

    Also let it be mentioned that anyone interested in the hayne story is poorly served by that anderson cooper puff piece. Great if it draws attention to the case and spurs movement towards improvements in the system, but putting cooper next to radley there’s no comparison in the quality.

  22. #22 |  Peter Ramins | 

    One thing I haven’t seen – a report from Hayne to a prosecutor saying that the examination did not yield telling clues that finger the guy the prosecutor is after.

    You would think if you roll the dice 1500 times per year, you would get snake eyes occasionally.

    Did Hayne ever not deliver?

  23. #23 |  SusanK | 

    I don’t know why they would credit you Radley. After all, you are world’s worst yob #123.

  24. #24 |  SJE | 

    IIRC, the NYT tried to do the same with Josh Marshalls TPM reporting on the attorney firing, but Josh still won numerous awards for his work (Polk award, Time 100 people etc).

  25. #25 |  Trea | 

    What the hell was Murdoch talking about a couple of weeks ago? They need to charge us for internet news stories because they need to fund their amazing research and reporting machine? Obviously, the blogosphere is more capable of researching a good news story than Murdoch’s Amazing News Machine. And it looks like the giant machine just steals stories from bloggers and report it as if they did the research. How much does that cost, Rupert? The reporter basically called some people he read about in Balko’s reporting and told them he was from CNN and re-reported the story. And Murdoch thinks the American people see value in that and want to pay to click on blue links to make sure it continues? Please.

  26. #26 |  SJE | 

    While I understand that you merely want CNN to observe some ethical guidelines, perhaps the only way to do that is through a lawsuit with money damages. It would certainly rattle the tip jar.

  27. #27 |  PogueMahone | 

    I don’t know why they would credit you Radley. After all, you are world’s worst yob #123.

    Okay, out of fear that this will continue to be a joke that I just don’t get, I’m requesting the definition of a “yob.”

    I googled it, and found several definitions.

    So is Balko a thug? Uncouth? Violent?

    He does look kind of shady though, doesn’t he?
    Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’d still read his work.


  28. #28 |  Emily | 

    It sucks you didn’t get the credit – but you know (and we know, and people like Cory Maye know) who it really is that will make a difference in this field.

  29. #29 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #19 Chris in AL: “If they were smart, they would have interviewed you for their story.”

    True. But they may also have been afraid of what else Radley may have had to say about the criminal justice system. He may have pointed out that Dr. Hayne is not just an “isolated incident.” That would have made CNN people squirm.

    Agitator readers, Reason readers and many other freedom loving people are tipping their hats to you today Radley. Thanks for all the hard work.

  30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Not being a journalist, I don’t really know whether CNN’s failure to give credit violates traditional accepted rules of journalism. But, CNN is following pretty closely on the heels of Fox News when it comes to pissing away their integrity as an objective news source.

    They’re really nothing more than entertainment and they saw this as as juicy and sensational (which it is). The idea that it is also good investigative reporting probably never crossed their minds. Integrity to them is simply having your name proudly pronounced by the deep voice of James Earl Jones.

    Someday, someone will once again start a news organization whose mission, instead of creating celebrity news anchors,will be to objectively and dispassionately deliver real news to intelligent thinking human beings. And when that happens, people will once again think what a wonderful invention it is and wonder why no one had ever thought of it before.

  31. #31 |  Christopher Monnier | 

    It’s not as good as CNN directly crediting “Reason Senior Editor Radley Balko,” but the nice thing about the internet is that there is easy-to-access proof that you scooped CNN by a couple years. Hopefully this will make the phenomenon of big media ripping off stories from little media less likely.

    The comments section of the CNN article has your back, though. It’s sort of like a bunch of little “letters to the editor” pointing out CNN’s mistake.

    Now we just need a Facebook group…

  32. #32 |  Rhayader | 

    *Hat tip*

    There you go Radley!

  33. #33 |  ktc2 | 

    The CNN piece is pretty much a white wash. They don’t really cover 90% of what’s wrong with “Dr.” Hayne.

    The general take away from it seems to be “some are complaining about his work” which is incredibly weak given all the evidence they could and should have presented.

  34. #34 |  SJE | 

    Yeah. “Some are complaining about his work” is like “some people have a bad opinion of Adolf Hitler”

  35. #35 |  Zargon | 

    The CNN piece is pretty much a white wash. They don’t really cover 90% of what’s wrong with “Dr.” Hayne.

    Exactly. There’s a mountain of hard evidence a mile high, and CNN reports an allegation with no evidence aside from alluding to a concern about the number of autopsies he does?

    This isn’t going to mean a thing to Hayne.

  36. #36 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #35 Zargon:
    “This isn’t going to mean a thing to Hayne.”

    It’s okay everyone. Mistakes were made. Now we have to move on. Looking back only wastes precious time. Dr. Haynes offers his sincerest apologies to the families who received inaccurate information on the cause of death for loved ones, and to those who may or may not have been wrongfully convicted by well-intentioned errors the doctor may or may not have made…yada yada yada.

  37. #37 |  InMD | 

    That sucks you didn’t get credit but at least maybe you can take some satisfaction in knowing your reporting may be making a difference. Three cheers for Mr. Balko!

  38. #38 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    #27 | PogueMahone – Ancient British politically correct term for young thugs was “backward boys:” hence, ‘yobs’.

  39. #39 |  Mister DNA | 


    Just be grateful MSNBC, FOX and/or Nancy Grace didn’t pick up the story and give you credit. I can see it now:

    MSNBC: White, gun-nut Libertarian wants to prevent Medical Examiner from providing free autopsies for poor crime victims.

    FOX: Cop-hating liberal with a French-sounding last name want to prevent cops from solving crimes.

    Nancy Grace: Hello! Dr. Hayne helps the good guys put criminals in jail, and this Radley Balko character – if that is his real name – is saying, “No! You can’t do that!”. If this Balko guy doesn’t have anything to hide, why hasn’t he let Dr. Hayne perform an autopsy on him? And why is his website named The Agitator? I’ll tell you why: It’s so he can agitate criminals into raping and killing our children! Hello!

  40. #40 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 


    Well played, Sir. Jesus H. Christ, Nancy Grace makes my skin crawl.

  41. #41 |  billy-jay | 

    CNN is garbage.

    Radley: You sir, do excellent work. Thank you.

  42. #42 |  Mister DNA | 

    Jesus H. Christ, Nancy Grace makes my skin crawl.

    If fingernails being scraped on a blackboard could be anthropomorphized, even they would say Nancy Grace gives them the Heeby-Jeebies.

  43. #43 |  Judi | 

    Radley, I read the 360 Blog and of course had to put my two cents in on Hayne and the fact they did not give you credit.

    A whole bunch of us made it very clear that CNN screwed you out of your more than well-deserved recognition and we are not happy about it. I have no doubt they will ‘get the message’.

    On the other hand, I began attempting to post on links to your articles a long time ago as well as sending copius amounts of e-mails to Cooper.

    I didn’t realize until recently that the site doesn’t allow your posts to contain links but I was hoping the elves read them before deleting them.

  44. #44 |  Judi | 

    By the way…here’s the link again to my online Hayne/West petition:

    By the way…I DO give you the ALL the credit there!

  45. #45 |  David McElroy | 

    My ex-wife was a former newspaper reporter/editor when she was hired as a producer for an ABC affiliate in a top 50 market. She found out quickly that story research generally involved the producers digging through the local morning newspaper. Then they’d give the newspaper stories to the reporters and camera people and have them go out and get video to go along with the stories. Half the time, the reporters didn’t even understand the stories they were reporting on. For many of us who have seen the inside of both newspapers and TV, the phrase “TV news” is an oxymoron.

  46. #46 |  Mister DNA | 


    I just signed your petition. I was skeptical at first, but when I saw that Antwan “The Governor of Crunk” Anderson of Hardeeville, South Carolina had signed it, I felt honored to be in such distinguished company.

    Also, it was good to see all the voices at Anderson Cooper’s blog speaking out on Radley’s behalf. I left my own comment, which lingers in moderation limbo.

  47. #47 |  Drew | 

    It’s really sort of amazing that outfits like CNN still haven’t conformed to basic blogging standards like HTs and even, until recently, inline links. It was always amazing to see them do stories that were literally ABOUT internet phenomenons, and STILL not bother to actually link to them in their online stories.

    It’s a slow change, but they’re coming around. Someday, someday in the future, they’ll credit folks like yourself that do the primary reporting. You know, after they get done crying about how other sites like google aggregate and a “steal” their stuff.

  48. #48 |  Sky | 

    Mr. Cooper seems to have forgotten that before Katrina he was just another struggling journalist himself!

  49. #49 |  Judi | 

    Mr. DNA,

    Thank you from my peasant heart. LOL

    Antwoin was a young man I met at my college graduation ceremony in July of this year.

    We were waiting for the processional to begin and as always I started some ‘street corner preaching’ about Radley, Hayne and the rest of the fiasco in Mississippi. Antwoin had me write my e-mail addy on a card since he wanted to learn more.

    He wrote a few weeks later and I sent him the links to Radley’s articles.

    I ‘preach’ this message to everyone, everywhere. I don’t care if it’s in a Dr.’s office, in the grocery line or pumping gas.

    Just yesterday I was at my local supermarket when this sweet elderly couple began a chat in the aisle about being approached in the parking lot by a man who wanted money for gas…and how you ‘just can’t trust people these days…’

    That was my opening. I said, “Let me tell you about people you REALLY can’t trust…and it’s not always the creepy guy asking for gas money in the parking lot…”

  50. #50 |  KeithH | 

    I may not be CNN but I am kind of fond of the whole justice gig, so heres a tip of the hat from sir.

  51. #51 |  Andrew S. | 

    Sky @ 8/22 12:18 AM said…

    Mr. Cooper seems to have forgotten that before Katrina he was just another struggling journalist himself!

    Actually I’d consider him more of a reality show host at the time. Though I really did like “The Mole”.

    Hopefully all the comments in the AC360 blog will spur some people to do a bit of google work and search out Reason (or this site) for more of the stories.

  52. #52 |  Frank | 

    #46 I put my 2 cents in early (as in about 1pm EDT) and the moderators killed it.

    Probably because I used the “P” word. Oh, well, everyone else pretty much has made equivalent points.

  53. #53 |  SJE | 

    The vast majority of posters cried shame on CNN for failing to attribute. Well, its more than 24 hours later and they have not modified the story or provided any links that properly show Radley’s role.

    OK, its the weekend, but CNN was a pioneer in 24hr news. They should be able to do rapid updates, no? Their failure to do so suggest that they are (a) sleazy/unethical, for failing to issue a correction or (b) incompetent, in being unable to do so. Neither is particularly good.

    Come’on CNN, or are you the “Cojones Neutered Network”?

  54. #54 |  matt | 

    Since nobody pointed it out…

    Techdirt ran a piece about how CNN “borrowed” your work. They didn’t mention The Agitator but they did link to your Reason piece.

  55. #55 |  pam | 

    the Hayne segment has been rescheduled for Monday night, tonight. It took 2 days to sort out Bush’s lies last week so it was bumped.

    Comments have been shut down over there for now. I don’t know if they were embarassed for not giving Radley credit or if they don’t want other people’s stories of injustice in the criminal courts.

  56. #56 |  Amy | 

    Haynes seems very slippery. Good luck getting that greasy pig in the chute. CNN should have gave you credit for your previous reporting on this.

  57. #57 |  The Governor of Crunk--LOL | 

    On behalf of the cause, i’d like to say thank you to everyone speaking out against people who seek to do the work of GOD!!!

    Mr. DNA, comment #39 is classic. You hit all of the idiots, I meant nails, on the head. Nancy Grace is something else! I just don’t know what….

    Now that that’s said, please take some time to fall thru and sign the petition for Reginald Blanton. He was just given a date by the state of (diabolical music) TEXAS!!! When you look at the evidence you’ll understand. Thanks and GOD bless us all!

    I drove down to Livingston, TX from South Carolina in order to appear at the 96.1 Fm Radio Station and present the song that I recorded for Reginald Blanton. I got on air and spoke about his situation and my FULL support for Reginald along with my disbelief that people allow this type of murder to continue! I drove 16 hours so I hope that you can spare 5 minutes. Please feel free to contact me anytime and i’ll try to do what I can for those that need help. PEACE

    Thanks for the link Judi!!!