Many years ago I met the journalist Nate Thayer at a party. I congratulated him on his reporting on the trial of Pol Pot, one of history’s great monsters. The trial — apparently something of a sham, as it was conducted by Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge movement, which Pol Pot led for many years — was the subject of a special report on ABC News’ “Nightline.”
Thayer told me he’d been having trouble with ABC, which approached him after he broke the story for the Far Eastern Economic Review. I have no memory of the details of what he told me, and I certainly had no idea his dispute with the network had dragged on all these years. But he has now posted a scorching entry on his blog, accusing the network and anchor Ted Koppel of wrongdoing in its dealings with him and daring ABC to come after him for violating a confidentiality agreement.
You might recall that earlier this year Thayer launched a rocket at The Atlantic after a Web editor asked him to contribute something for free — for the “exposure.” The resulting exchange set off a wide-ranging debate over free content and the difficulty that freelance journalists have finding paid work. It also led to an accusation of plagiarism against Thayer, which he vehemently denied.