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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

1819 News’ Absurd Defense in Fred "Bubba" Copeland’s Homicide Case: “Blame the Dead Man!”

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on November 11, 2023

IMAGE: Freelance journalist and 1819 News contributor Jennifer Oliver O'Connell.

An Editorial Opinion

Today, 1819 News trotted out another freelance journalist to articulate a last line of defense for the embattled news organization in the Fred “Bubba” Copeland homicide case. Her name is Jennifer Oliver O'Connell. She is an investigative journalist, author, opinion analyst, and contributor to 1819 News, Redstate, and other publications.

After quoting scripture and bashing Bubba Copeland, Ms. O’Connell declared that: “1819 News performed responsible journalism in exposing Copeland and the destruction he chose to leave in his wake.”

In bashing Bubba Copeland, Ms. O’Connell repackaged and parroted the talking points birthed by 1819 News in the aftermath of Copeland’s suicide. These talking points focus on smearing Copeland for his cross-dressing activities, his works of erotic fiction, and his activities as a church, business, and community leader. Like the other 1819 News sycophants, Ms. O'Connell even hinted that some of Copeland’s activities may have endangered women and children in the Smiths Station community.

1819 News’ Desperate Search for a Viable Defense to Homicide Journalism

Ms. O’Connell’s Op-Ed piece sought to provide 1819 News with the cloak of a credible defense in Bubba Copeland’s homicide case. After all, Copeland killed himself only after 1819 News “outed” him on November 1, 2023, as a cross-dresser and writer of erotic works of fiction.

After a week of intense soul-searching and after floating several trial balloons, 1819 News has decided that the best defense in this homicide case is to "blame the dead man" or, as O’Connell says, “the destruction he chose to leave in his wake.” This defense is absurd, insulting to the Copeland family, and ineffective.

Ms. O’Connell, who is not an independent voice or a journalism expert in these ethical and legal matters, did not express an opinion or provide any commentary on the extensive criminal background of 1819 News president, CEO, and publisher Kenneth Bryan Dawson, or the endangerment conviction of his sidekick and editor-in-chief, Robert Jeffrey Poor.

Apparently, these documented criminal histories were immaterial to Ms. O'Connell's analysis. After all, she has an ongoing business relationship with 1819 News.

I do not take money from anybody to: (a) write my investigative articles, (b) express my editorial opinions, or (c) ignore criminal histories of the key parties in my articles. There is no commercial angle associated with the operation of my digital news platforms. I believe the truth should be unfettered and free. As such, the criminal histories of Bryan Dawson and Jeff Poor are relevant to my assessment of this tragic case.

Bryan Dawson is a convicted drug dealer, serial thief, and attempted murderer who caused or contributed to the death of Bubba Copeland. If Dawson had been convicted of the same string of felonies in Alabama, he would still be in prison under the state's "three strikes and you're out" statute for career criminals and Bubba Copeland would still be alive.

Like the handful of 1819 News defenders who have commented on this story on my digital news platforms, Ms. O’Connell does NOT tell us what municipal code sections, state statutes, or federal laws Bubba Copeland’s alleged conduct violated. Instead, O’Connell is merely critical of Copeland's lifestyle choices and the genre of fictional writings he produced under his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Ironically, as an author, Ms. O’Connell liberally relishes her freedom to write articles on a wide range of subjects.

The Obligation of a Responsible Journalist Who Receives Information About Alleged Crimes in Progress

On October 31, 2023, 1819 News received the "tip" information about Bubba Copeland's cross-dressing and works of erotic fiction, according to Bryan Dawson and Jeff Poor. Some of the information allegedly involved women and children.

At that time, 1819 News had an affirmative and immediate duty to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency to report this information, particularly if they believed a crime of sexual exploitation might have been committed against a child.

Instead of promptly reporting this information to law enforcement officials, 1819 News rushed to publish an article that “outed” Copeland on November 1st.

Kenneth Bryan Dawson and Robert Jeffrey Poor knew the journalistic protocols that applied when their reporter (Mitchell Craig Monger) received information about Copeland's alleged sexual exploitation and possible abuse of children. To report this information, all Dawson, Poor, and Monger had to do was file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)'s website at, or simply called 1-800-843-5678. They failed to do so.

Ms. O’Connell’s Op-Ed piece does not acknowledge this affirmative duty or address it in any way. She simply glides over it.

Bryan Dawson and Jeff Poor did not follow this standard protocol for reporting alleged child exploitation, which would have taken only a few minutes to do. Had they done so, there would have been an immediate law enforcement response to their report.

Dawson and Poor deliberately skipped this basic protocol and "outed" Bubba Copeland because Monger's article was salacious and scandalous. These men knew the published article would cause Copeland unbearable mental anguish, emotional distress, and psychological pain and suffering. Finally, they knew, or reasonably should have known, that the article would likely cause Copeland to kill himself.

The publication of the November 1st article was a huge error in judgment by 1819 News’ management team, under the facts and circumstances of Bubba Copeland's homicide case. In that regrettable moment, 1819 News elevated the opportunity for a quick journalist scoop over the preservation of a human life.

No amount of quoted scripture or proselytizing from Ms. O’Connell will change this sad fact or cover-up 1819 News' colossal and irreversible journalistic mistake.

1819 News' publication of Craig Monger's article likely caused Bubba Copeland to commit suicide. This is when 1819 News left the zone of responsible journalism and entered the world of criminal homicide.

1819 News' breach of this basic protocol and Copeland's subsequent suicide may expose Dawson, Poor, and Monger to possible homicide charges, depending upon what the criminal investigations conducted by the Lee County Sheriff's Department and local grand jury find.

By the way, Sheriff Jay Jones says his office examined Bubba Copeland's electronic devices and found no evidence of criminal activity on them.

At this juncture, Ms. O’Connell is attempting to sell the public on an after-the-fact justification for the journalistic failures of Bryan Dawson, Jeff Poor, and Craig Monger. These men would be better served by consulting with criminal defense counsel, as opposed to seeking public relations cover from Ms. O’Connell.

Coming soon -- Who are the big money donors propping up Bryan Dawson, Jeff Poor, and 1819 News, and why?


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Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson
Nov 12, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Wow. Just wow. I know teachers and childcare workers can be prosecuted for nor reporting suspected abuse, neglect, etc, but are 1819 and their people eligible to be charged for not reporting this alleged situation? I personally don't believe one word of what they are saying, but if they neglected their duty to report, then...

And why am I the only person commenting on here who isn't afraid to use their real name?

Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Nov 12, 2023
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Positive change in society is an evolutionary process, not a revolutionary one. Ordinary people of goodwill are the agents of positive change. Never give up on the triumph of the human spirit.

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