Was 'New Yorker' Douchebag Machiavelli Story Too Close to 'LAT' Douchebag Machiavelli Story?

We get letters. Specifically, we get cc'd on letters alleging journalistic shenanigans. Late last month we mentioned a Nick Paumgarten New Yorker article about the db who wrote The 48 Laws of Power. Comes now correspondence from Chris Lee, an L.A. Times reporter who has what the hip hop community calls a "beef" with Paumgarten.

I recently read your story about Robert Greene and his book "The 48 Laws of Power" ("Fresh Prince," New Yorker Nov. 6, 2006) and couldn't help note its many similarities to my earlier story about Greene ("Laws for an Outlaw Culture," Los Angeles Times Jul. 12, 2006). I asked Greene about it and have figured out the overlap - you totally blood-sucked my story for its ideas and then re-interviewed many of my sources. Call me peevish but it's not like you and I were standing on a street corner and happened to observe the same thing at the same time. You blatantly ripped me off.
Paumgarten's article is unfortunately offline. We've done a quick comparison of the two articles and we have to say this: When you're writing an article about a geeky white guy, it's kind of hard to describe him in any way other than "geeky." When your subject hangs out with 50 Cent and Dov Charney, you're pretty much going to have to include them. And you're not going to see a lot of variation in their quotes. We'll print the letter in full below so you can make up your own mind, but you'll see that Greene, the geeky white guy in question (see?), claims to have told Paumgarten about the previous interviews with Lee. Whether that's true or an assertion made after the subtle evisceration Paumgarten did of Lee in the piece remains to be seen: Paumgarten himself declined to comment. Which is probably wise: Our First Law is "Stay quiet."

Nick,
I recently read your story about Robert Greene and his book "The 48 Laws of Power" ("Fresh Prince," New Yorker Nov. 6, 2006) and couldn't help note its many similarities to my earlier story about Greene ("Laws for an Outlaw Culture," Los Angeles Times Jul. 12, 2006). I asked Greene about it and have figured out the overlap - you totally blood-sucked my story for its ideas and then re-interviewed many of my sources.
Call me peevish but it's not like you and I were standing on a street corner and happened to observe the same thing at the same time. You blatantly ripped me off.
Let's compare and contrast:
My nut graf: "The book became a best-seller...and now, largely as a result of rap artists' growing sense of themselves as an entrepreneurial warrior class, is finding new life as a bible for behavior in the hip-hop world."
Yours: "Rappers and executives frequently cite other statutes as models for their industry maneuverings...but the first law's invocation of hierarchy seems to suite the image that rappers and their handlers have of themselves and their line-that they are knights who must abide by a code."
My story notes how rappers in the '80s and '90s recited dialogue from "Scarface" because "the character's ruthlessness and ambition exemplified hip-hop's mercenary self-image and ideals at the time." In your story, you use an observation by Quincy Jones III (someone I interviewed first) to make the same point: "...hip-hop has evolved beyond its gangster period, which was exemplified by its fixation with the movie 'Scarface,' into a more mature phase, for which... 'The 48 Laws' is better suited."
Jones and Chris Lighty are quoted also quoted in both stories, 50 Cent is a central figure to both and Dov Charney and Brian Grazer also show up in each story.
And my story characterizes Greene as "a self-described 'geeky white guy' while in yours he's "an understated, somewhat geeky guy." You might have at least gotten out the thesaurus for that one.
I'll admit yours is the article I would have liked to have written if I hadn't been battling daily newspaper deadlines, geographical and word count constraints. But let's be real: I did the thinking for both articles. The gentlemanly thing for you to do would have been to give a subtle nod to my efforts - Greene tells me he mentioned it to you several times during your reporting.
Maybe you were just following the book's Law 7: "GET OTHERS TO DO THE WORK FOR YOU, BUT ALWAYS TAKE THE CREDIT."
Yours,
Chris Lee
Los Angeles Times

Earlier: 'Hip Hop Machiavelli' Considerably More Douchey Than Actual Machiavelli