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OKC Media

Does News9 Read the Oklahoma Gazette? A Rocketplane Saga

5:00 AM EDT on July 30, 2009

rocket ship

Last night, breaking news from KWTV News 9: Oklahoma City-based aerospace start-up Rocketplane, the beneficiary of 18 millions dollars in special state tax credits under a now-closed state tax code loophole, has fled the state getting no closer to low orbit than Al Eschbach in a pickup game of basketball.

According to KWTV's Rusty Surrette -- the only Oklahoma City news reporter named after disposed medical waste -- "NEWS 9 has also learned that Rocketplane officials have been in touch with lawmakers in Hawaii and have expressed interest in working with the state on a plan for space tourism. "

That'd be great, if only it was news. A quick search of the Oklahoma Gazette website reveals that all of the facts reported by Surrette, and many more facts, are in Oklahoma Gazette stories by Scott Cooper and Ben Fenwick published on July 15 of this year, September 10 2007, August 15 2007, and about a dozen other stories by the dynamic duo of Oklahoma investigative journalism.

Scott Cooper, reporter for the Gazette, almost immediately wrote on his Facebook page, "I love it. Ch. 9 says they've 'learned' and 'sources tell' them Rocketplane is gone. Some investigation just to read the Gazette."

In the news video (introduced by Kelly and Amy) Rusty Surrette reports that Rocketplane took the money and ran. After promising to launch people into space tourism from Oklahoma, Rocketplane headed to the alleged birthplace of the president of the United States, Hawaii.

Now, Gary England is our god and Amy McRee is our pink-clad high priestess, but we really have to express our disappointment with News9 for running a story that took less effort to write than one of our posts. The specific quoted sources, such as obscure local Republican legislator David Dank, are often exactly the same. We're not saying the Rusty actually lifted the Gazette's story, but it is a remarkable coincidence that News 9's big breaking story last night reads so much like a two-week-old feature in a paper known for its massage parlor ads.

Or, perhaps, we can now expect massage parlor ads on the 10 o'clock news . . .

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