Friday, July 07, 2006

Coulter's Syndicator To Investigate Plagiarism Charge, But Publisher Calls Charge "Meritless"

Universal Press Syndicate, which syndicates conservative pundit Ann Coulter's columns to more than 100 newspapers, said it will review a report that detailed instances of apparent plagiarism.

"We take allegations of plagiarism seriously. It's something we'd like to investigate further," Universal spokeswoman Kathie Kerr told the New York Post. Kerr said Universal would look at a report based on finding produced by a plagiarism-detecting software system called iThenticate.

Meanwhile, Steve Ross, senior vice president of Crown Publishing group, which published Coulter's latest rant, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, defended the book to the Post by noting there are 19 pages of endnotes.

"We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding Godless and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible," Ross said. "The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution."

It's not in Ross' best interest to give the credible charges of plagiarism their due (the three examples encompass 82 words, not a handful, as Ross implies). It would hurt book sales, after all. And noting the number of pages of endnotes is a red herring.

As JABBS and others reported a few days ago, John Barrie, the creator of iThenticate, found that many of the 344 citations Coulter includes in Godless are misleading. Last year, JABBS noted a similar pattern of misleading citations from Coulter's book, Slander.

***

Forget politics -- Coulter is going to throw her bombs regardless of how well she attributes information, and regardless of who publishes her rants. And obviously, Coulter has a right to free speech, regardless of how misguided she is.

The question people should ask is: What is more important, profits or ethics and accuracy?

Should book buyers trust a publisher like Crown Publishing after it looks the other way when one of its authors plagiarizes? Should viewers of Fox News, which has regularly turned to Coulter, continue to watch if Fox ignores her plagiarism, too?

Certainly there are other conservative pundits available. There are conservatives who can strongly advocate positions. There are conservatives who have large followings and can sell books or get Fox ratings. There are even ones who look good on television -- which it's been suggested is a reason that Coulter is popular.

If we were discussing a liberal bomb-thrower -- Michael Moore, Bill Maher or Randi Rhodes, for example -- charges of plagiarism would lead to wall-to-wall coverage on radio and television talk shows. There would be widespread calls for the publisher to recall the book from stores.

Careers have been ruined or sidetracked because of allegations of plagiarism among writers at the New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post. Why are some people giving Coulter a free pass?

16 Comments:

Anonymous trinity said...

David R. Mark said...
Careers have been ruined or sidetracked because of allegations of plagiarism among writers at the New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post. Why are some people giving Coulter a free pass?


Because it's highly debatable whether these examples even qualify as real "plagiarism", David. Basically what Ann did was to regurgitate a couple of lines from some newspaper story.

This was more a case of reprinting background/factual information, which hardly rises to the level of passing off someone's original, intellectual property as one's own creation. I think you guys are being so petty.

One might possibly argue that she made a mistake by not attributing those facts, but to act as though this is some sort of deliberate theft of someone else's work is just a desperate stretch, imo.

There have been plenty of cases of very real and serious plagiarism from people on the left. I can't help but wonder if any of you condemned those people at the time. Just a few examples:

Laurence Tribe, Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, Ward Churchill, Al Franken, Doris Kearnes Goodman

12:46 PM  
Anonymous MrToffeeLovesYa said...

Trinity's right. No one should argue with this logic, baby.

Coulter "reprinted" between 24 and 33 words at a stretch, in at least three cases. Stop being so picky, liberals. Lots of people say things that other people have said first. It's called background material. What are you guys, the information gestapo? C'mon!

Trinity rightly says Coulter didn't "attribute those facts," but c'mon, dude, that's minor league compared to what other folks have done, right? I don't have any specifics, you know, but you know it's true.

And all those misleading footnotes? Blow those off. Hey liberal America, do the math. Ross said there were 19 pages of endnotes. Dude, that's what, 190 footnotes? So what if 19 or 38 or 57 are misleading. Stop harassing Coulter -- that's still a minority of times that she screwed up. You're missing the big picture.

Trinity, you're right one more time, amigo. JABBS said reporters at some papers were ruined by plagiarizing.

But Jayson Blair is far worse than Coulter. And Blair was a liberal, right? Pow! You nailed it, baby.

Trinity, bud, it's brilliant to throw a bunch of names, including guys like Biden, who plagiarized in 1987 and has been toast to conservatives ever since. No way he'll ever be president, right Trinity! And Goodwin is clearly a "liberal" historian, right? She writes all that history and lifted things from other scholars. And I think she liked JFK, right? I don't actually know what she wrote. But clearly she's a liberal that should be mentioned in the same breath as Ann Coulter, right?

And Ward Churchill? Man, he comes in handy whenever liberals need bashing, right amigo? Churchill is a guy most Americans have never heard of, and most liberals who have heard of him don't want anything to do with him. The guy is a kook. But sure, throw him into the debate, too. He's clearly worse than Coulter, even though most people don't know anything he stands for.

Trinity, you nailed it, baby. You simultaneously marginalized the charges against Coulter, and better yet, you make liberals look petty by throwing a bunch of "liberal" names up on the wall. Bravo, amigo. Gold star all the way.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous The Backlash Cometh said...

She won't get a free pass if newspapers refuse to print her crap. Can bookstores refuse to carry her books?

3:24 PM  
Anonymous atreides1 said...

Some Newspapers won't refuse

I'm not sure about book stores having the right to refuse to carry her books. But even if they did have that right, some would still carry it.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous atreides1 said...

MONEY

Her publisher knows that her "books" sell, even if it is mostly bulk sales, they still make money.

And that's what counts.

Did you really expect a publisher that puts out crap like Coulter writes to actually have any integrity?

3:25 PM  
Anonymous yellowcanine said...

Meanwhile, Steve Ross, senior vice president of Crown Publishing group, which published Coulter's latest rant, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, defended the book to the Post by noting there are 19 pages of endnotes.

"We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding Godless and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible," Ross said. "The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution."


So the number of pages of footnotes and the number of words in suspect passages is the way we determine whether plagerism has occured?

And the Bush's statement about uranium in the SOTU speech wasn't a lie according to Condi because it was only 16 words.

Is that the new standard?

"Well, there you go again." 5 words.

"Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy." 6 words.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. 10 words.

"Good to the last drop." 5 words

"Where's the beef?" 3-4 words

In the last one, if MacDonalds used it to sell hamburgers you can be sure that Wendy's would be going after them. I would concede that advertising slogans are probably a special case, but I really do think that number of words is a weak defense, particularly if there are multiple places in the text with unattributed unique phraseology.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous gratuitous said...

We're back to the endnote defense

That was Little Arfin' Annie's excuse last time she was caught fudging data: Look at all the footnotes, endnotes, and quotation marks! Just like real research and legitimate scholarship! You liberals!

The problem then, as is the problem now, was that the endnotes didn't actually support whatever stupid point Coulter was trying to make. Endnotes are supposed to refer to other sources or quotations or facts that bolster one's argument; Coulter's endnotes are just there to fill out the page obligation, and often have nothing more to do with whatever she's babbling about than the moon has to do with green cheese.

I strongly suspected that when her publisher said it was going to investigate the charges of plagiarism that the result would be (surprise!) we stand by our author and her demented rantings. But I figured I should be fair, and wait until (surprise!) Crown Publishing actually came out in support of its cash cow. And now, here we are, and (surprise!) Crown Publishing has determined that their author's sloppy scholarship, which would be inexcusable in a freshman composition class, is no big thing for their highly profitable author (surprise!).

3:26 PM  
Anonymous yellowcanine said...

Plus it is not enough to have references if one doesn't make it clear which passages are from another source. In the absence of clear attribution, the implication is that a particular passage is the work of the author. And contrary to what Crown says, the number of words in a passage is irrelevant if the particular construct is recognizable as the work of someone else.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous alias: "cutiepie" johnson said...

Trinity, Mr. Toffee:

I don't know if you can call Goodwin a liberal. I do know the Weekly Standard broke the story about Goodwin's plagiarism in 2002, but the story was quickly picked up by scores of newspapers and television shows.

Here is a synopsis:

http://hnn.us/articles/590.html

I would say that if this were truly apples to apples, the same scores of newspapers and television shows would example what Coulter has done in stealing from other sources, taking things out of context, mis-attributing sources, etc., and let the chips fall where they may.

With Goodwin, the conservative media broke the story, and the MSM and liberal media (i.e. Slate) followed quickly with their own stories. No one pulled punches.

So, Trinity and Mr Toffee, why is that not the case now? To quote JABBS, why is Coulter seemingly being given a free pass, given that there are a lot of question marks on what she did?

3:58 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

MrToffeeLovesYa said...
"And Ward Churchill? Man, he comes in handy whenever liberals need bashing, right amigo? Churchill is a guy most Americans have never heard of, and most liberals who have heard of him don't want anything to do with him."


I guess you haven't heard of the obscure, low-profile Laurence Tribe either, right, pal? ;) I notice you conveniently forgot to comment on his plagiarism, MrToffee.

Law professor apologizes for plagiarism in 1985 book

By Joyce Howard Price
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

"A Harvard University law professor considered a potential Supreme Court nominee if a Democrat were elected president apologized Monday for plagiarism that was disclosed in a conservative magazine.
In a statement, Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional scholar who represented Al Gore in his lawsuit over the 2000 presidential-election results, acknowledged that in his 1985 book, "God Save This Honorable Court," he borrowed heavily from Henry J. Abraham's 1974 book, "Justices and Presidents," without giving proper credit."

Now this was indeed, a matter of blatant plagiarism, lifting someone's very personal intellectual property, not just a couple of facts reported in a newspaper. But that's okay, because Mr. Tribe "apologized" for stealing it. No biggie. The hypocrisy of some of you libs is breathtaking.

http://washingtontimes.com/national/20040928-111006-3358r.htm

3:58 PM  
Anonymous MrToffeeLovesYa said...

Hey, I'm on your side, Trinity. Tribe committed plagiarism 21 years ago -- let's trot him out and teach these liberals a lesson.

Long memories, dude. That's what you need to have in this game. How else are you going to defend Coulter now than to point out all the other examples from two decades ago.

And liberal America, stop being a bunch of losers. It took tribe 19 years to apologize. Get back to us in 2025 on Coulter -- history will prove us right on that one, too.

And the fact that Tribe is linked to Gore -- that has to be good for some points, too. Pow!

You're dead on, Trinity. Dead on. Nothing gets past you. Good job!

5:13 PM  
Anonymous trinity said...

MrToffeeLovesYa said...
"Hey, I'm on your side, Trinity. Tribe committed plagiarism 21 years ago -- let's trot him out and teach these liberals a lesson."


Yes, MrToffee. It was 21 years ago, so I guess that makes it null and void or something? Were you a jerk back then as well, or have you only recently perfected your act?

Furthermore, I'm not really defending Ann Coulter at all, because it's not clear at this point that she did anything wrong. (Except of course to get under the skin of libs such as yourself.)

I'm just pointing out that you guys have a double standard that you like to use. One for conservatives, and another one for libs like yourselves.

And you are such whiners about everything. Jeeesh! If Coulter did indeed do something that turns out to be truly plagiaristic, then she'll have to pay the consequences. I just don't think that's been demonstrated at this point.

But please, don't let me rain on your parade! :) Keep on salivating! Drool becomes you.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous warrens said...

When you know Scaife and NewsMax will buy 1 million hardcover you don't give a SHIT what crap you're peddling.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous tsuki said...

Her publisher is supposed to have vetted her book.

He did a lousy job. But he's a Republican and not into that "personal responsibility" stuff.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous MrToffeeLovesYa said...

"I'm not really defending Ann Coulter at all."

Sure you are, buddy. You're saying that what Coulter did may not be plagiarism, and even if it is, it wasn't much plagiarism -- not very bad plagiarism -- so liberal America should just shut it. I'm with you, man.

And if liberals want to keep whining about lifting a few newspaper accounts, or screwing up a couple of dozen footnotes, then you're prepared to offer a 21-year-old plagiarism by Tribe, or a 19-year-old plagiarism by Biden. Or Ward Churchill. Let's see liberal America defend Ward Churchill's plagiarism!!!

Of course those things matter. Definitely not "null and void." Absolutely relevant to the conversation about Coulter. Pow!

It's freakin' brilliant, amigo.

"If Coulter did indeed do something that turns out to be truly plagiaristic, then she'll have to pay the consequences."

Right again, buddy bud. Some whiny liberal elitist trots out a computer program that finds 82 or so words that match up. WTF kind of proof is that? Definitely we need to wait for some more proof.

Let the freakin' Raw Story find an e-mail from Coulter saying, "Boy, I'm ripping off the Portland Press on this one." Let Daily Kos find a memo from Ross saying "I don't care how sloppy that shit is, just get the book out so we can make our dough." That'd be proof of something, right? JABBS would look pretty stupid then.

Short of that or an on-air confession from Coulter, and it's just a bunch of whiny liberal b.s., right? Pow! Bunch of hypocrites, right?

Golden stuff, Trinity. You rule, amigo!

6:02 PM  
Blogger The Xsociate said...

IMHO, the reason that Coulter has to plagerize is because she hasn't a clue on the subjects that he chooses to rant about.

12:02 AM  

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