I was recently peeved to see a popular blogger make a point of crediting one of his readers with coining a phrase that he had to know had come from me, regarding blacks’ toxic levels of self-esteem.
This is a widespread problem much older than the Web: People giving their cronies credit for other people’s work. For instance, I once saw someone credit Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who really was brilliant, with an insight that had come from German political theorist Hermann Heller in 1931 (in “Rechtstaat oder Diktatur?”—“Rule of Law or Dictatorship?”), when Moynihan would have barely been out of diapers: That the more liberty or “human rights” a people enjoy, the more likely they are to denounce their government as unjust.
But plagiarism may be even more pervasive today, in spite of the Web.
During the 1990s, when I taught college, I quickly learned that I could not assign traditional term papers, or indeed, any class papers not written in class under my watchful eye. The first time I did that, I had a mediocre white kid in a community college Intro to Philosophy class bring in a term paper on Plato’s Republic that was so exquisitely written and argued that it made the 52-page Ph.D. seminar paper I had written on the same topic six years earlier look Bush League.
That was the last time I did that.
I don’t know about bloggers, because the ones I read are mostly rightwing reprobates who quote their sources at length, but plagiarism in the MSM is increasingly becoming SOP.
In 2004, when AP “reporter” Tom Hays launched his “Boosgate” report, at least one reporter for another wire service plagiarized Hays’ hoax, which thus reached millions of people.
Hays had manufactured a story, whereby Republican voters at a Bush rally, upon hearing Pres. Bush say that Pres. Clinton was sick, booed Clinton. I’m not naming the other guy for purely capricious reasons. We then had a long telephone conversation, in which he came off to me as a good egg, in spite of his plagiary. He didn’t even seem to realize that he had done anything wrong.
On January 9, 2009, I interviewed the AP’s reporter for race and ethnicity, Jesse Washington, for a big story I never got around to finishing, on the just concluded presidential election.
(In July, 2008, Washington had been named to replace Erin Texeira, who had suddenly resigned, without explanation, in March of that year. Texeira had filed some very suspicious stories over the years, which I had heavily criticized. One was in support of the Duke Rape Hoax. Texeira ludicrously claimed that black women complained of being constantly sexually harassed by white men in a manner that sounded like the way all too many black men, but virtually no white men typically act around black women. Another was about black high school students terrorizing East Asian students in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, which she twisted, to make it seem as though the perpetrators were white. A third story purported to interview a large black man, who complained that black men in the work world must constantly inhibit themselves, in order to put racist whites at ease. She also dishonestly sought to make it seem as though support for yet more black reparations were gaining strength.)
In the course of our conversation, the issue of plagiarism came up.
NS: (Laughs) So, the thing is, I mean, first of all, I do like to contact reporters, so I can say that, “This reporter told me that he saw it with his own two eyes,” rather than me just—you know and, so many people, it’s not just the Internet—so many people just plagiarize.
JW: Yeah they just …
NS: In fact, I saw an article in a London paper, a major London paper, that totally plagiarized your article [the offender was Hannah Strange, in the Times of London; Strange, indeed].
JW: Oh, yeah, that happens all the time.
NS: And I couldn’t believe it, though.
JW: You’re calling from New York?
JW: You’re calling from New York?
JW: The New York Post and the Daily News do it every single day.
NS: Oh, my God!
JW: Every single day.
NS: And they don’t say, “Compiled with AP reports,” or ..?
JW: Not at all.
NS: Oh, my God.
JW: (Laughing) But, you know, that’s what they pay us for. So, so be it.