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Monica Crowley: Plagiarist

Via CNN:  Trump national security pick Monica Crowley plagiarized multiple sources in 2012 book

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.

Crowley did not return a request for comment. Multiple requests for comment by phone and email over the past two days to HarperCollins went unreturned.

Crowley, a syndicated radio host, columnist, and, until recently, a Fox News contributor, will serve as Trump’s senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council.

Trump’s transition team is standing by Crowley.

The link contains the evidence, which is thorough and damning.  It is also of a type quite familiar to me after years of teaching and dealing with this kind of thing:  the change of a word here and there by the author, as if that is enough to make the words and thoughts original.  Really, to me, it is just evidence of knowing theft:  the attempt to subtly doctor paragraphs in the hopes that there will be enough change for others not to notice or to create some kind of plausible deniability.

She has a Ph.D. in International Relations from Columbia and she has been a published columnist for decades.  She knows exactly what she is doing.  However, this is not the first time she has been accused (see here), but that was a mere column.

 

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I literally did a better job sourcing a young adult, alternate history trilogy. YA fiction and I had a glossary and a bibliography. To date – with one of the three books out – I’ve not had anyone point out a historical inaccuracy. And I plagiarized nothing.

    I mention this in case the usual suspects want to come along and claim this is normal practice. No, it’s not. It’s not only not normal and completely unacceptable for a scholarly work, it does not rise to the standards of a YA novel.

    More evidence as if more were needed, that Trump is staffing his regime with incompetents, nuts and C-listers. Send in the clowns, they’re nothing but clowns.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 3

  2. Frank Q. says:

    It’s so scary that in this new administration, loyalty trumps (no pun intended) competence or honesty to such an extent. Am interested how far this will be taken. Plagiarism is a relatively minor scandal, but in the four years to come there’ll be much worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  3. Bob says:

    As Al Franken noted, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

    That book needs an entire new edition devoted to Trump and his enablers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  4. Neo says:

    At least in the event of a nuclear war, the Trump Administration won’t be stuck coming up with the proper original press release.
    I’m sure Joe Biden sees no problem here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  5. John says:

    Damn.

    Should have picked her for Veep.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @Bob: Gawd knows there’s ample material to update Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, but I fear Al Franken’s day job is going to absorb all his time for the next few years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Bob says:

    @Frank Q.: I’m not calling it the Trump administration. It’s the Trump syndicate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Neo:

    So, were you:

    a) Equally outraged/disappointed by both?

    b) Outraged by Biden but not Crowley?

    c) Outraged by Crowley but not Biden?

    You can only call hypocrisy when you are not yourself a hypocrite. If you choose, b) or c) you’re a hypocrite.

    I dislike any plagiarism. But logically if we’re parsing degrees of offense, you should be more outraged at Crowley since 1) Far more material was involved. 2) Many more sources were plagiarized. 3) She presumably wrote her own book rather than relying on a speech writer, as politicians do. 4) She would have been under no great time pressure. 5) She was paid for the book which means she committed fraud, and not just plagiarism. 6) She in effect stole from better men and women, reducing the value of their work in the process, whereas Biden lifted from a Brit politician who did not object.

    Crowley caused economic damage by victimizing other authors and committed fraud as well as plagiarism.

    A rational man therefore would disapprove of both but acknowledge that if one was a misdemeanor, the other was a felony.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 0

  9. CSK says:

    As a professional writer, I’m always angered and disgusted by this. I don’t whether you’re Monica Crowley or Doris Kearns Goodwin doing the plagiarizing–you’re a crook.

    But let me note that sometimes this plagiarism isn’t deliberate. People like Crowley and Goodwin have fleets of assistants to do their research and interviewing for them. The researcher may copy a passage from a book or article and give it to the author of record, who then incorporates it into his or her work, not realizing that it’s not the researcher’s own writing, but someone else. I’m not a fan of this practice, either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  10. @michael reynolds: Further, Biden paid a price. It led to him dropping out of the nomination process for president in 1988.

    And while I objected then (and now) to Biden’s actions, I think that that a) incurring a penalty for these types of acts is important, and b) as you note: these are differences in severity as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  11. @CSK:

    But let me note that sometimes this plagiarism isn’t deliberate. People like Crowley and Goodwin have fleets of assistants to do their research and interviewing for them. The researcher may copy a passage from a book or article and give it to the author of record, who then incorporates it into his or her work, not realizing that it’s not the researcher’s own writing, but someone else. I’m not a fan of this practice, either.

    I understand exactly what you are saying, but call BS on it as an excuse.

    First, the assistants have an obligation to keep track of their own words versus the words of others.

    Second, the main author is still responsible for what they put in print.

    And, really, if you are copying verbatim notes from an assistant, you aren’t really an author, IMHO.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  12. @CSK:

    As a professional writer, I’m always angered and disgusted by this. I don’t whether you’re Monica Crowley or Doris Kearns Goodwin doing the plagiarizing–you’re a crook.

    And absolutely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  13. Hal_10000 says:

    Never had much patience with plagiarists but, after my own work was plagiarized, I developed an intense hatred of them. It’s difficult to describe, if it hasn’t happened to you, how dirty it makes you feel.

    One thing that was pointed out by Megan McArdle (via Terry Teachout). Plagiarists will often try to pretend that they just, coincidentally, happened to use the same words as someone else. CJ Werleman in particular, tried this excuse. But here’s an exercise: take some non-generic text from any article and do a google search of that exact phrase (using quote marks). You will find, most times, that the only sites are that one and those that directly quote it. It’s kind of amazing how fast the combination of words narrows down to a single instance, usually after only a half dozen words. I expect Crowley to either use that excuse or the Kearns-Goodwin “I forgot to put in quote marks” excuse. Don’t let her get away with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. @Hal_10000: All true. Specific phrases, save very generic ones, tend to be remarkably unique. Whole paragraphs are almost like fingerprints. And certainly the multiple usage of verbatim to near verbatim paragraphs is irrefutable evidence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @CSK:

    I share your reluctance to cry ‘plagiarist!’ every time two writers say approximately the same thing. There but for the grace of God, etc… I don’t even yell plagiarism when something of mine is ripped off.

    But I don’t buy the excuse here because if Crowley is an expert in the field, she would almost certainly have been familiar with at least some of the plagiarized works, even if it was an assistant who carried out the actual cut-and-paste theft. At some point in the process Crowley should at the very least have had an inkling that something was off. A competent author would have heard something in the prose and then would have checked. And if she found a single instance of plagiarism – not hard with available software – she should have then gone over it start to finish. Seriously, I write 2 books a year, give of take 900 pages, and it’s kidlit fiction, and even I’m more careful than this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. Gustopher says:

    I am actually reassured that someone on Trump’s security team is willing to listen to the thoughts and opinions of others, evaluate when they may be better than their own, and act on this.

    Perhaps Trump can reshuffle a little and make her the National Security Advisor — consolidating, evaluating and presenting the ideas of the various branches of the intelligence community is exactly the right job for her.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    I doubt that’s what happened. More likely she put together an outline then tasked her assistants with basically quote-hunting until they found anything that might tend to confirm Crowley’s assumptions. If you cherry-pick you can entirely avoid exposure to alternate points of view and merely confirm your own biases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  18. SC_Birdflyte says:

    May I suggest that Columbia take a close look at her dissertation to make sure it’s actually her work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  19. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: Here I am, trying to be an optimist, desperately hoping things are not as bad as they seem, and you come along and point out that it is worse.

    Thanks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. Gustopher says:

    If Melania Trump can plagerize Michelle Obama, surely this is fine. The bar has been set, and it is low. Very, very low.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  21. Hal_10000 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yep. I’m not a successful writer (yet) but I’ve written some short stories and a novel. And I’m always fearful that I may have accidentally plagiarized something. And as an academic, plagiarism is one of the sins that can wreck your career.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. Jartin says:

    Someone else who swears by the old saying..
    ”What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own”
    I bet Trump keeps her on. She has the correct team ethic of lies and deceit..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Franklin says:

    One might be curious how she got that PhD at Columbia. Often you have to write papers including a dissertation to achieve such a degree. If she is worth anything, somebody’s checking those papers right now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    @michael reynolds: @Steven L. Taylor:

    I hope I made it plain that I find it just as reprehensible when someone rips off another writer via a quote from a source taken by a research assistant. Whatever the author of record is reproducing in his or her work, it isn’t original. What I did was try to explain how it happens.

    I’ve been in this business a long time. Many of the most successful “authors” don’t write their own works, or very little of them. It’s a bad, bad practice–but it’s not going to stop as long as the rip-off artists get lauded for their “work,” and the publisher makes money.

    As for me? I’m an honest writer; if in my non-fiction I cite another writer’s work, you can be sure it’s in quotes and fully footnoted and credited in the bibliography. And, more ignobly, I’m too damn vain to steal from people whom I know are lesser prose stylists than I.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    It’s what I do, man; it’s what I do.

    @Hal_10000:

    The fear of accidental plagiarism is one of the reasons I don’t read much in my own genre. (That, plus I’m not 14.) I was halfway through writing GONE before I realized it was in effect an update of LORD OF THE FLIES. I was so bummed, but on closer reflection there wasn’t much similarity beyond the theme, which is in effect an expulsion from Eden thing, like Robinson Crusoe. Most dystopian stuff is essentially expulsion from Eden.

    Then it got cool, because we sent the ARC to Stephen King for a blurb, one of those ‘no one knows the dude, but what the hell,’ moves. No answer. We figure that’s that. Suddenly then we get an email from Mr. King.* He was concerned we might think he had cribbed UNDER THE DOME (not yet out) from GONE. I said, dude, you’re Stephen Fuc–ing King, I’ve been ripping you off for years, we all have. In the end I got a blurb and the bound galleys for UTD.

    *Yes, I am officially allowed to call him Steve. No, I don’t think I’m going to do that.

    @CSK:

    So right about the pride issue involved. How the hell do you call yourself a writer if you’re stealing someone’s words? It’s the difference between being a guy who sculpts a statue and being some guy who takes a picture of it.

    I admire non-fic writers. I just finished a 1500 page trilogy of alt-history (WW2 and SCOTUS has decided women get drafted) and there is something to check on every damn page. The character is running from a German plane strafing her? What plane? What gun? What’s it sound like? Would that plane have been deployed in that battle? Straight fiction is so much easier: make sh-t up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. @CSK: I was not criticizing you and I acknowledge your criticisms. I was just elaborating on my views of the practices in question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  27. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “First, the assistants have an obligation to keep track of their own words versus the words of others.”

    Beyond that, it’s the author’s duty to instruct the assistants to source everything and to make sure they differentiate in writing what is original and what is copied.

    Unless the author just happens to hire a sociopath as a researcher, then this is no excuse at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  28. wr says:

    @Franklin: “One might be curious how she got that PhD at Columbia. Often you have to write papers including a dissertation to achieve such a degree. ”

    I’d be surprised if her dissertation wasn’t her own work. There’s a world of difference between being a PhD candidate fighting to make her mark in the world and a rich TV and radio personality who has to knock out a book to make a few bucks and reinforce the brand…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Every honest writer worries about the prospect of committing unconscious or inadvertent plagiarism. You effortlessly write a great scene, or a great passage of dialogue, and then you wonder uneasily, “Sh!t, was that me, or am I remembering something I read ten years ago?”

    I suspect the crapslingers among us don’t worry too much. They only regret getting caught.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  30. @wr: As a general rule, you are correct. But, she was already a media personality when she was working on her Ph.D. Her Wikipedia page states she started at Fox in 1996 but her Ph.D. was awarded in 2000.

    As such, she was not a typical Ph.D. student.

    One would expect that the dissertation was far more rigorous than her book–and that her committee would have been more mindful than her editors.

    I am sure that someone is looking into her dissertation after the book revelation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I take it that you haven’t been in this academic thing for too long [snark off]. Alas, the whole “I’ll help you get your article published if I can be the lead author” thing is still common. Also, I remember a research writing class that was offered at the Univ of Washington where the students were going to write on a subject of the professor’s choosing with the disclaimer that all student work submitted would become the property of the professor at the end of the term.

    It’s certainly deplorable, but dishonest people stay dishonest when they acquire power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    How the hell do you call yourself a writer if you’re stealing someone’s words?

    I expect that her attitude is that if you get royalty checks you’re a writer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  33. @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Deplorable and dishonest, indeed. (But yes, a real thing).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. grumpy realist says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Don’t be surprised if it turns out that no one on her defense committee read a word.

    I inadvertently discovered that this had happened with my thesis committee when my thesis was finally bound and deposited after the defense…..Whoops.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. C. Clavin says:

    Once you are able to delude yourself that Russian hacking, fake news, and propaganda had nothing to do with your razor-thin EC win…things like plagiarism are completely inconsequential.
    This is the most ethically challenged administration in history. Plagiarism is un-ethical. Do the math.
    Dark days are upon us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. C. Clavin says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Don’t let her get away with it.

    Of course she is going to get away with it. This is the Trump administration…and rules are for losers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  37. Mick says:

    She’s guilty of not quoting her sources, not a national security leak or murder. People who bought her book should get a refund or partial refund. High school sophomoric at best and embarrassing which is nothing new for politics in this country whether Democrat or Republican. Get over it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  38. @Mick: Plagiarism is theft and lying (and on a rather large and public scale in this case)–and this is far more than simply not quoting sources, it is using someone else’s thoughts and words and passing them off as her own (and doing so repeatedly).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. wr says:

    @wr: “I’d be surprised if her dissertation wasn’t her own work. There’s a world of difference between being a PhD candidate fighting to make her mark in the world and a rich TV and radio personality who has to knock out a book to make a few bucks and reinforce the brand…”

    And… I’m wrong.

    This is what happens when I try to give horrible right wingers the benefit of the doubt…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @Mick:And hiring people to write your homework assignment is no biggie either, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  41. CSK says:

    @Mick:

    Let me put this as simply as possible: She’s stealing other people’s work and using it to make money. That is a crime. If she did it to you, you’d be screaming. Trust me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0