An expert weighs in on the “plagiarism” allegations.
By Matthew Vadum, FPM
The plagiarism allegations CNN leveled against conservative commentator Monica Crowley were part of a “political hit job,” according to a publishing law attorney with expertise in plagiarism cases.
Crowley, a popular TV pundit and Washington Times editor who holds a Ph.D. in international relations, previously worked for former President Richard Nixon years after he resigned his office.
Trump’s transition team stood by Crowley when the controversy erupted, stating, “Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”
Crowley has suffered mightily because of the allegations. President-elect Donald Trump had asked her to become a national security spokeswoman but she backed out of the job offer. Her publisher has withdrawn one of her books, and critics of Crowley have raised the possibility that Columbia University could revoke her doctoral degree. The university hasn’t weighed in on the matter publicly.
It is significant that CNN’s smear vehicle is written by Andrew Kaczynski, formerly of BuzzFeed, the cat video-loving so-called media outlet run by Ben Smith, a gossip-loving left-wing former Politico reporter. Kaczynski quit BuzzFeed to join CNN in October.
The attorney who has weighed in on this case is Lynn Chu, a member of the New York State Bar who earned her juris doctor degree from the University of Chicago in 1982.
In a report this week about Crowley’s alleged plagiarism, Chu establishes her expertise by explaining that she has “over 30 years of experience in the field of publishing and publishing law.” She notes that she has “often reviewed literary materials with an eye to issues of quality and … [is] well familiar with sourcing and attribution standards in both university press and commercial publishing.”
Chu said she looked at Crowley’s work and “found CNN’s splashy ‘plagiarism’ accusation to be ill-supported—a heavily exaggerated, political hit job.”
The “CNN list [or plagiarized passages] was misleadingly long, possibly a calculated attempt to condemn her with manufactured, but false, bulk.”
Chu also revealed that CNN had deliberately misrepresented evidence. In two dozen of the supposed examples of plagiarism cited by the cable TV network, “CNN hid from readers that her footnotes gave proper credit to the source,” she said.
“I came away impressed by the very high quality and care taken by Ms. Crowley in her writing, scholarship and research overall,” Chu said. There were “relatively few examples of unsourced copying” that should simply “be corrected, and not allowed to besmirch Ms. Crowley’s reputation.”
At first glance, the case CNN’s Kaczynski makes against Crowley in his Jan. 7 article seems damning.
The review of Crowley’s June 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” found upwards of 50 examples of plagiarism from numerous sources, including the copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia. The New York Times bestseller, published by the HarperCollins imprint Broadside Books, contains no notes or bibliography.
Sections of her book are repeatedly lifted from articles by National Review author Andrew C. McCarthy, who is a friend of Crowley’s. Lines in her book also match word-for-word the work of other columnists, including National Review’s Rich Lowry, Michelle Malkin, conservative economist Stephen Moore, Karl Rove, and Ramesh Ponnuru of Bloomberg View.
Crowley also lifted word-for-word phrases from the Associated Press, the New York Times, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the BBC, and Yahoo News.
But closer examination reveals Kaczynski to be at best a hairsplitter, and at worst, a liar.
Let’s take a look at some of Kaczynski’s typical headache-inducing complaints.
On page 82 of Crowley’s book, she writes (boldfacing here indicates words highlighted in Kaczynski’s article)
The FDR Keynesians’ defiance of the basic rules of economics led to such absurdities as the New Deal decision to pay farmers to burn their crops and slaughter their livestock to maintain high food prices.
According to CNN, the above paragraph was lifted from an article commentator Steve Moore wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. Moore reportedly wrote:
Over the years, this has led to some horrific blunders, such as the New Deal decision to pay farmers to burn crops and slaughter livestock to keep food prices high: To encourage food production, destroy it.
Yes, there appears to be a regurgitation of the phrase “as the New Deal decision to pay farmers to burn crops and slaughter…” but how else could she have explained the New Deal era policy? Should she have elongated it along the lines of perhaps “as the New Deal era policy of providing subsidies to farmers to destroy crops and slaughter livestock mandated…”? There are only so many ways to explain paying farmers to destroy what they produce.
It’s not as if she was stealing Moore’s unique intellectual property. She was explaining a concept economically as a good writer should. If she’d changed a word or two in the above phrase would that have let her off the hook in Kaczynski’s view? Don’t count on it.
CNN refers to Crowley’s book in regards to pages 256 and 257:.
So much for not targeting the United States. Al-Badi, like the Iranian mullahs, went on to say that America was in irreversible decline and therefore ripe for jihad. In fact, the Brotherhood has always supported the use of violence when it would advance Islamism; it only tactically renounced violence against the Egyptian government because it knew Mubarak would have come down on them like a brick house and because they were advancing the Islamist agenda through the system anyway.
CNN compares the sentences to something Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review in 2011:
As I have repeatedly pointed out — and as Barry Rubin argues in this excellent analysis of the new Obama policy — the Brotherhood has always favored violence where it would advance the Islamist cause; it tactically renounced violence against the Egyptian regime because it would have prompted ruinous retaliation from Mubarak and because the Brotherhood was making progress through the political process and influence over Egyptian institutions.
Claiming the above example constitutes plagiarism is ridiculous. The concepts and some of the words overlap but the ideas expressed are not all the same. Crowley refers to Al-Badi and his assessment of America as a target; McCarthy doesn’t even mention Al-Badi or discuss the views he expressed.
CNN produces a near-exact match when it refers to page 230 of Crowley’s book:
In December 2007 CIA director Michael Hayden stated that “of about 100 prisoners held to date in the CIA program, the enhanced techniques were used on about 30, and waterboarding used on just three.”
The Wikipedia entry, CNN claimed is exactly the same except for a superfluous period at the end.
In December 2007 CIA director Michael Hayden stated that “of about 100 prisoners held to date in the CIA program, the enhanced techniques were used on about 30, and waterboarding used on just three.”.
Amazingly, some people consider copying from Wikipedia to be plagiarism. It is an open-source encyclopedia whose entries on controversial political matters are zealously guarded by social justice warriors who prefer “wikilawyering” and using their sheer numbers to prevail in edit wars. Copying from Wikipedia is often like writing down graffiti from bathroom stalls in nightclubs. No one knows if the graffiti is factually accurate or what the motives were of the vandal.
For all we know someone may have set Crowley up, changing the article to match the wording she used in her book. If Crowley really did copy from Wikipedia, she shouldn’t have, but to call such a deed plagiarism is harsh.
Most of CNN’s complaints are closer to the New Deal and Egyptian examples higher up in this article.
Chu said that she “judged each item in context for what was appropriate, what was in error, the degree of error, and whether and how it needed be corrected,” and that she arrived at her “overall conclusions mindful of the totality.”
In Chu’s opinion there were “relatively few examples of unsourced copying.”
She added, “The term ‘plagiarism’ should not be used until errors reach a critical mass.” Some errors are to be expected in any lengthy work, she said.
In other words, it isn’t plagiarism.
BuzzFeed has been targeting Republicans and conservatives for destruction for some time.
BuzzFeed performed a colossal belly flop earlier this month when it ran an unverified, hard-to-believe story not only that Donald Trump had intelligence links to Russia but also a fondness for sex acts involving urine. According to almost certainly fabricated Russian documents, the FSB, successor intelligence agency to the KGB, had evidence that when in Moscow Trump had rented a hotel room the Obamas had previously occupied and hired prostitutes to perform a “golden showers” routine on the bed on which the Obamas had slept.
It’s the kind of tabloid trash for which BuzzFeed has become known. CNN, where, again, Kaczynski now works, enthusiastically promoted the fake news story originating from his previous employer. CNN also played a significant role in pushing the debunked lie started by NBC’s Katy Tur that Trump asked Russia to hack computer systems in order to defeat his opponent Hillary Clinton.
Understandably, Trump has blasted CNN for its unfair coverage of him.
Last week at Trump’s first formal press conference as president-elect, he pointedly refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta and described the network as a purveyor of “fake news.” The media responded with feigned horror, conveniently forgetting how many times President Obama has publicly bashed Fox News and had his smear attempts backed up by the George Soros-funded fake media watchdog Media Matters for America.
This desperate assault on Monica Crowley is just the beginning.
The Left is digging in to hurt the Trump administration any way it can.