Podcast Darlings Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat Accused of Plagiarism, Misrepresenting Their Research and Attempting to Cover it up. Something Eerily Familiar in Karlie’s Case. Damion Moore contributed to this article.
The true crime genre has grown leaps and bounds over the last several years, and with that comes content from the full spectrum of online creatives. Podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, Facebook groups and pages, all dedicated to providing the masses with crime stories and opinions for their eager consumption. The underlying issue has been, and continues to be, the unreliability of the content and plagiarism. There is simply too much material for platforms to police adequately, and it’s generally up to the public to call them out and submit complaints to certain outlets.
Karlie Guse’s case is riddled with disinformation that most viewers and readers either don’t have the time, or don’t care to take the time to verify. Many content creators have no inclination to research or authenticate their own work, and instead base it solely on internet chatter for the purpose of gaining views and the potential to earn money. This is disheartening on its own, but what’s worse is when they shoplift the work of others and pass it off as their own. Stealing the hard work of those whom have diligently put time and effort into gathering and publishing the truth, becomes a much more egregious act when it’s not even conveyed accurately. In essence, they create more and more rumors and the cycle continues.
Much like the two private investigators who solicited their services to Karlie’s parents hoping that it would put them in the orbit of the A-listers, the case for the most part was being misrepresented by several content creators whose angle was to appeal to an angry lynch mob ready to pounce on and drown out any-and-all opposition. They thought that is where the public sided, hence where the cash was. In reality, the mob was just a small minority with tons of soc accounts and they were the loudest voices in the room. The general public and those who were wise to the gimmick were mostly afraid to speak up, because the lynch mob would target them and their families with false accusations, harassment, doxxing them, publishing embarrassing information both real or imagined and by simply bullying them into silence and submission.
Our commitment to the facts and getting information as accurate as possible has never wavered. It’s not just about research and reporting what others want to hear, but reporting the facts as they are and where everything stands at the moment of publication. In order to do so, we had to correct myths and exposed the frauds passing themselves off as reputable sources. One thing was for certain, we didn’t fear the Karlie Guse Lynch Mob and we weren’t going to allow them to dictate what was to be told.
One opportunist did what she thought was a brilliant business move, first try to “cut us in” and act as if she was doing us a favor. She would report “our research” on her YouTube channel. When she made it clear that her only goal was to monetize, and not only that, but cut us in as a junior partner so that “we could donate our cut to the the family of Karlie Guse”, we declined and left it alone. We felt she lacked experience and maturity at the time, but that grows with experience and perhaps she just came off wrong. We all have to begin somewhere. Rather than moving on or trying to research the case herself and strive for some semblance of accuracy, she opted to steal our research and hard work, rework it by spinning and twisting it just enough so that appealed to the lynch mob, all so she could make money on it. After all, we already had an audience, why even compete or better yet, offer an alternative while reporting “facts”? Why strive for excellence or even establish credibility? They were suckers and all she needs to do is supply them just enough of what they want to hear. What she didn’t realize, that we are also the only reputable source for the Karlie Guse Lynch Mob as well, since they’ve been burned by PIs Michael Boone and Lynda Bergh repeatedly, as well as a few others.
While it has been a tedious process to correct their lies, smear campaigns and disinformation strategy, one thing kept us focused on getting the truth out- Karlie.
Crime Junkie: Another Fine Example of the Top 1% Livin Large, Leavin Us Their Scraps
While most think that this the doing of those that don’t have the time, money and resources to commit to fully investigate and vet information before publishing or broadcasting it, earlier this week the true crime podcasting world was hit with a similar scandal that is often overlooked or just not covered enough. Crime Junkie hosted by Ashley Flowers and co-hosted by Brit Prawat, is an Indianapolis based true crime podcast that is not only a top podcast in the true crime genre, it is one of the top podcasts overall. Each week it consistently ranks as one of the world’s top downloads podcasts, which afforded Ashley Flowers the opportunity & ability to quit her full time job last year to create her own media company audiochuck to produce the show.
In just over two years- with a $13,000 investment and putting in what seemed like care, time, research and effort, Crime Junkie went from being just one of hundreds of podcasts in an over-saturated true crime market, to being a number one podcast. In a Q&A late last year, she estimated to be bring in “seven figures” in 2019.
While it appears this wasn’t the first time that allegations of plagiarism and ill-researched cases were produced by the duo, this time many other podcasters, true crime writers and journalists have taken notice with their blatant plagiarism that was rampant with Crime Junkie. Accusations ranged from just a few lines that wasn’t properly sourced (which is all too common with true crime podcasts), to major elements and entire episodes being plagiarized almost word for word.
In a Facebook post, Millie Tirk had brought my attention to a post by former journalist Cathy Frye who had authored a series in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper back in 2003, titled “Caught in the Web” which covers the murder of Kacie Woody.
Since then, many podcasters have come forward and claimed that not only did they just notice that some of their content was plagiarized, but some even came forward stating they’ve known about for some time, but remained silent out of fear of backlash and retaliation from their large fan base. One thing Millie and I discussed, was two days after being exposed, Ashley nor Brit had failed to address as if it would go away. To make matters worse, suddenly sources started popping up in their episodes and others, well, they simply disappeared.
Knowing that millions of listeners take what you say as well researched, fact-finding and well educated in these cases when you’re literally just reading off a Wikipedia article is deplorable. Sure, plenty of podcasters and websites have made it clear, they are simply just creating awareness and do very basic research. That is perfectly fine, I’ve done plenty of awareness pieces. Still, you still have to put in your own thoughts, interpretation and in your own words. Then after millions of eyes are on you, you decide to source material in some and then delete entire episodes in others? Shameful. They knew exactly what they were doing and had they not, they would have come forward and said so.
Life in Fast Lane
Many researchers and writers (myself included) were critical of the show for not being well versed in some cases that they not only covered, but were actually acting as advocates while misleading, misrepresenting and/or distorting facts. For example, I personally took issue with their coverage of the Adnan Syed case, which clearly they relied entirely on the case as it was presented to them in Serial by Sarah Koenig. While I personally have no problem with them or anyone else discussing or looking further into what appears to be a miscarriage of justice, I do take issue with a true crime show that has repeatedly perpetuated they thoroughly researched and vetted these cases and source material themselves. It appears they weren’t only acting like advocates for the release of Adnan Syed, but Billy Wayne Cope for the murder of his daughter Amanda Cope. They received such backlash for their coverage of the case, that they later took it down. In a statement on their Facebook page, they claimed fans felt their presentation was “too one sided” and “they didn’t find the right balance”.
It wasn’t that they didn’t find the right balance, it lacked proper research as they got all their information from a single biased source in favor for the release of the monster Billy Wayne Cope, who is now deceased. How else could one justify stating, “how could Billy Wayne Cope still be in jail?”
They’re advocating for the release of convicted murderers based entirely off reading a bootlegged copy of a Cliff’s Notes. They’re not only are engineering opinion based on faulty & generic information, but disrespecting law enforcement and judicial process, calling it and those involved corrupt, without having seen the material first hand and talking to those involved directly. Then presenting this to millions of listeners as if they have. What makes it unforgivable, is doing all of that without considering the consequences of their actions and how that impacts the family of the victim(s). It’s no different than publicly accusing someone of murder. There better be some damning evidence when you do such a thing. You’re destroying people’s lives. They deserve the courtesy of some compelling evidence of such things in either case as this isn’t an ordinary person armed with just their two cents in public discussion. This is a pair with the finances, resources and means to research these things before advocating for such and they have millions of listeners who believe they do.
ACJ: Poaching Those Committing Crimes Against Families, One Video Removed at a Time
A newcomer to Karlie’s case, and self proclaimed “drama reactor”, has decided to grace the YouTube community with her opinions and advice. While her passion might be compelling to similarly uneducated viewers, her knowledge and research are painfully lacking. She has yet to put out a video that is anything other than embarrassing, and although she has only a handful of subscribers and one of the lower view counts that we’ve ever seen, that does not absolve her of having to follow YouTube’s terms of conditions.
Our initial attempts to bring her attention to the false information that she was pitifully trying to convey, went ignored. She made reference to a photo of Karlie and spent 30 seconds describing how she didn’t think it was truly a photo of Karlie…she was incorrect. The video containing that sad attempt to mock an actual photo of the missing child that she claims to hold so dear to her heart, was rightfully removed by YouTube. She continues with her disinformation and exceptionally bizarre pattern of speech, to make Karlie’s case a stepping stone to her improbable YouTube fame. Some of her content could easily violate the Geneva Convention, let alone copyright law, as it is pure torture to sit through. Describing her channel as “lame” is an understatement, but even the lamest creators should be held accountable.
Karlie Guse is important to ACJ, we take her case seriously and are committed to telling her story with precision. We dedicate a portion of our time to monitoring the thoughtless output of content related to Karlie. The reality is that working with ACJ, searching for missing persons, reporting on cases, interviewing friends and families, and the usual legwork has far more enjoyable aspects to the job. Drawing the short stick leaves someone on our staff or some unlucky volunteer, stuck watching some of the worst, low quality, unoriginal YouTube content that there is to endure. If illegal use of our work or inaccurate details are being publicized, we file reports to the respective platform where said content is published. We have successfully demonetized and removed multiple dishonest players from the arena including a random convicted drug trafficker from Rhode Island as well as the UK based Armchair Detective, who previously had approached us after securing an interview with Lindsay Fairley and tried to get us to not only promote his YouTube channel, but wanted an unedited column on our site after we were featured on Dr. Phil. We do this, not to stop people from hearing about Karlie, but to ensure that what they do hear is accurate and properly obtained information. ACJ will steadfastly maintain responsible stewardship of Karlie’s case, and advocate for her truth.