Mr. Brian Williams
Anchor and Managing Editor
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094

Dear Mr. Williams:

You deserve some credit for reminding viewers that Alex Haley, like Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin, acknowledged what you described in your report on January 24 as "lifting passages" from other authors. However, that is a grossly inaccurate description of what Haley actually did. He was sued by Harold Courlander for having copied from his novel, "The African," over 80 passages as well as "language, thoughts, attitudes, incidents, situations, plot and character"in writing "Roots." Courlander questioned whether "Roots" could have been written without Haley's reliance on "The African." In December 1978, Haley and his publisher agreed to pay Courlander over $500,000 to settle the suit. Since NBC aired a special program commemorating the 25th anniversary of the "Roots" miniseries, you have a special obligation to tell the truth about Alex Haley's plagiarism rather than implying that it was less serious than that of Doris Kearns Goodwin.