On June 27, the Daily Mirror, a London-based tabloid, published a fascinating story about Lamb and Lynx Gaede, who several years ago fronted their own teen pop band, Prussian Blue, that gained some notoriety for its espousal of Holocaust denial and White Nationalism.
Now all grown up, the Mirror reported, the Gaede girls had “had a radical change of heart—and are now singing a different tune.”
Having moved from Bakersfield, California, to small-town Montana, they had experienced some rough times. Lamb had come down with serious health issues, and had begun using medical marijuana to treat the pain. Meanwhile, they had renounced racism completely. It was a fun bit of news, and a number of other newspapers picked it up. The National Ledger ran a piece linking back to the Daily Mail, which cited the Mirror. The Algemeiner, a Jewish newspaper based in Brooklyn, also cited the Mirror. Hollywood Life linked to the Daily Mail.
But the story sounded familiar. I’d written a similar piece for the Daily, the News Corp.-produced iPad outlet, nearly a year before. But from what I knew of the girls, they’d had it with reporters. I’d negotiated with them for weeks before they’d agreed to be interviewed, and they’d only done so because we knew each other. I’d visited them at their home in California in 2006 when they were just 13 and written a lengthy profile of them that ran in GQ. They and their mother, April Gaede, who is still an ardent White Nationalist, had considered it one of the few fair stories that had been done, so while they have tried to keep a low profile, they made an exception for me.
I looked more closely at the Mirror piece. Here’s what the reporter, Rachael Bletchly, wrote:
“My sister and I are pretty liberal now,” Lamb revealed in a recent US TV interview.
“Yeah,” chipped in Lynx, languidly flicking her long blonde hair.
Here’s what I wrote in the Daily:
“I’m not a white nationalist anymore,” Lamb told The Daily in an exclusive interview, the twins’ first in five years. “My sister and I are pretty liberal now.”
I liked that detail about the languid flicking of the hair, but I hadn’t had that in my piece. The interview was a phoner.
“Personally, I love diversity! I’m stoked that we have so many different cultures.
“I think it’s amazing, and it makes me proud of humanity every day that we have so many different places and people.
“Personally, I love diversity,” Lynx seconded. “I’m stoked that we have so many different cultures. I think it’s amazing and it makes me proud of humanity every day that we have so many different places and people.”
“I’m glad we were in a band, but I think we should have been pushed toward something a little more mainstream and easier for us to handle than being front-men for a belief system that we didn’t even completely understand at that time. We were little kids.”
“I’m glad we were in the band,” Lynx said, “but I think we should have been pushed toward something a little more mainstream and easier for us to handle than being front-men for a belief system that we didn’t even completely understand at that time. We were little kids.”
There were more quotes. Everything in the Mirror appeared to be lifted verbatim from my year-old interview in the Daily. The girls were twins and they don’t look this similar.
The spin was different though. Whereas I had been careful not to connect the girls’ use of medical marijuana with their political views, the European press was eager to link the two things, as if weed had just blown their minds. “We were teenage nazis…then we discovered marijuana” read the subhed on the Mirror’s story. The Daily Mail’s headline was “Marijuana changed us from Nazis to peace-loving hippies”
Interestingly, Huffington Post UK ran a story that linked back to the Daily. The Huffington Post has had its issues with questionable borrowing over the years, but here was an impressive counter example. (True, they’d rewritten an entire news story, but at least they’d rewritten the original, and linked to it.)
The story in the Mirror attributed the quotes to “a recent US TV interview.” That was a pretty vague reference. I texted Lynx.
Hey, you around? Seems like you’re getting new press based on our old interview.
She texted right back:
“Haha i know :/ … it never ends haha! and we thought montana was a big enough rock to hide under:P”
Me: “So you guys didn’t talk to anyone lately?”
Lynx: “Nope! whatever they got they gleaned from what we said to the daily..”
I called her to bitch about the media a bit. “Someone texted us about it and we didn’t know what they were talking about,” she said. “I actually told my mom I thought maybe our Facebook was hacked or something.”
The next day I placed a call to Rachael Bletchly. The Mirror‘s website describes her as “a senior reporter and feature writer with more than 25 years experience.” She sounded nice. I asked her where her story came from. “It was given to us by a freelancer,” she explained. “I just did a rewrite on the intro.”
I told her the quotes seemed like they might have been lifted from the Daily and asked her who the freelancer was. “Actually, I think it was given to me by the news desk here, by a colleague. But he’s off today.”
Ms. Bletchly promised to get back to me with an explanation, and I’ll update when I hear from her. In the meantime, the story is still generating interest. An email recently appeared in my in-box from a reporter with Germany’s Stern magazine. She was wondering what the hell was going on.
“The story is so amazing, I wanted to write about it too,” she wrote, “but then I found out, that the Daily Mail is recycling itself. Or is there a good reason?”
I told her I’d get back to her.