Jasper Schuringa probably didn't think twice before dismantling Northwest Airlines Flight 253's would-be bomber. But before telling his story, he wanted money, and he got it. From major news outlets who pay up and lie about it. Here's the proof:

Yesterday Mediaite and TV Newser reported on Schurnga's two wares he's got for sale: the first, a blurry picture of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The second is himself, for interviews. CNN got to him first. They also got an interview.

This is the interview Jasper did. You can watch the entire thing, but it only gets good around 6:45, when Schuringa appears to be looking off-camera, trying to end the interview, and in doing so, preserving his product for further sale.

Mediaite's Steve Krakauer deftly explains how things like this go down:

The practice of paying a "licensing fee" rather than a direct exchange is a way networks who claim to never pay for interviews can get around the issue. By paying for images and video, they are free to say no money was exchanged hands for the actual interview – which is still viewed as unseemly for news outlets not named the National Enquirer or TMZ. But paying for something to secure an interview happens quite a bit.

Steve was dead-on. This is what happened:

All the media organizations found Schuringa's company website, which had his cell phone number on it. By the time he finally got to Miami, his final destination, CNN and The New York Post had gotten to him.

Once the Post and CNN got through to Jasper, he handed over all negotiations to his friend who lives in Miami who he came to the U.S. to visit. His name is Shai Ben-Ami. He's an Israeli guy who's in the restaurant business, as a Google search would turn up. He owns some kind of Pick Up Stix imitator. Though their Orange Chicken sounds good about now.

Schurnga sold the "TV Rights" of the first of his two photos to CNN for $10K.

The "print rights" went to the Post for $5K.

Later, Schuringa was paid upwards of $3K by ABC News for a second photo, which Schuringa tried to sell to other local news outlets for $5K, unsuccessfully.

Jasper Schuringa made at least $18,000 from two shitty, blurry photos.


Because the only way to get interviews with this guy was to pay him, so CNN and The New York Post ponied up. Fox News used the Post's interview, because they're part of Murdoch-stan. NBC apparently didn't pay, because they don't have their own interview. Neither does the New York Daily News or the New York Times. But the New York Daily News did take CNN's photo (albeit watermarked) and interview quotes for their story in this morning's paper for the low price of free-ninety-nine. Thrifty!

One reporter reached Shai just before Jasper went on CNN, and was told that after they were done with CNN and worked out a contract with ABC, they'd talk to the reporter about the print rights to the second photo, and Jasper would talk to reporters if—and only if—the reporter decided to buy it.

"He was quite upfront about it," we're told. "He made it clear that Jasper was only talking to news organizations that paid."

And he made it clear over emails. Which look like this. Emphasis mine:

The post and times still talking about photo 2 what can you offer forit!? I feel bad dropping with you after you have been cool with us ...
Sent from my BlackBerry® on the MetroPCS Network

You might have to run it only for monday cuz abc wants to use it aswell for tv news and they stressed if we could hold off till monday with paper ? Would that work ...
Sent from my BlackBerry® on the MetroPCS Network

Others numbers are extremly higher
Sent from my BlackBerry® on the MetroPCS Network

They have exclusive rights for photo 1, that is a final, for photo 2
they are offering 3k
, we are going with them soon if I don't hear back
from you on equal contract ... Thanks for all ...
Sent from my BlackBerry® on the MetroPCS Network

Welcome to the wonderful world of Checkbook Journalism. Have you seen the photo? It looks like this.

It's nothing.

Neither is the other photo, which is just more of the same. Again, these major news networks aren't really paying for the photo, they're paying for the thing that comes with the photo: an interview.

Here's the "funny" thing: CNN admitted to Mediaite and TV Newser that they paid for the photo, but wouldn't comment on the interview. When pressed, will they cop to it?

CNN tells Mediaite they paid a "licensing fee" for the exclusive cell phone image, which they have been using throughout the day...CNN clarifies the network did not pay for the actual interview during CNN Newsroom.

Of course not. Because they're a news organization, not tabloid scum.


Technically, did they pay for the interview? Probably not.
Categorically, did they pay for the interview? Absolutely.

When CNN wanted to talk about Balloon Boy a few weeks back? They wanted the goods—the exclusive—but they didn't want to pay, be seen as paying, or refer to the story as anything but allegedly true. So they got the next best thing: my boss, talking about the story!

Looks like they learned their lesson.

Checkbook journalism is back, and here to stay. Media critics who lambast some news organizations for paying for sources are going to have to deal with the cold, hard fact that getting a scoop has gotten a lot more competitive these days.

Not only that, but the mainstream outlets who hold themselves in higher regards than those (like ours) who openly admit to ponying up for a story are doing the same thing themselves, the sole difference being: We don't feel the need to lie about it. Why do they?