Harper Collins Pulls Monica Crowley Book After Plagiarism Charges

As Steven Taylor has noted, Monica Crowley, who has been chosen by Donald Trump for a position at the National Security Council, has been accused of plagiarism in both her book and her dissertation in cases that seem to be fairly clear-cut and damning. Now, Harper Collins has announced that it is pulling copies of her book based on the charges:

HarperCollins is withdrawing the digital edition of Monica Crowley’s 2012 book “What the (Bleep) Just Happened?” from retailers, after evidence of plagiarism.

Its decision to recall the book comes after a report by CNN that Ms. Crowley, a conservative columnist and TV personality who was chosen by President-elect Donald J. Trump for a high-ranking communications role at the National Security Council, had included plagiarized passages from Wikipedia and newspaper articles.

“The book, which has reached the end of its natural sales cycle, will no longer be offered for purchase until such time as the author has the opportunity to source and revise the material,” HarperCollins said in a statement on Tuesday.

The book, which took aim at Barack Obama’s presidency and policies, was a modest commercial success, selling around 20,000 hardcover copies, according to Publishers Marketplace. Ms. Crowley’s book was published by Broadside Books, a conservative imprint at HarperCollins; it included identical language to passages published by other sources without attributing credit — in some 50 instances — CNN reported over the weekend. More examples of plagiarism surfaced in Ms. Crowley’s Ph.D. dissertation, according to Politico, which found more than a dozen examples of passages that had been lifted from scholarly works.

While publishers typically have nonfiction books vetted by their legal departments, most do not check for plagiarism, fabrication or factual inaccuracies. As a result, nonfiction books often contain errors and, every so often, plagiarism.

These types of offenses once signified the end of an author’s career. But publishers have seemed more willing to give writers a second chance. Last year, Simon & Schuster published a book by Jonah Lehrer, whose previous books for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt were recalled after it was revealed that Mr. Lehrer had plagiarized passages, recycled his own work and fabricated quotations. James Frey, who fabricated portions of his memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” about his drug addiction, made a comeback as a young-adult novelist and publisher.

In Ms. Crowley’s case, the evidence seemed clear enough: CNN highlighted many instances where text had been lifted from other sources and presented passages with the original material to stress similarities.

The Trump transition team continues to stand behind Crowley despite these revelations, and given the fact that her position at the N.S.C. does not require Senate confirmation there is nothing stopping Crowley from keeping the job unless either she or Trump decide it would be best if she did not do so.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    It will probably be Ivanka or Jared Kushner who makes the decision about whether Crowley should be fired, since they seem to be the moving spirits behind the canning of other personnel.

    Crowley has a real problem with plagiarism. In 1999, the Wall Street Journal yanked an article she wrote for them on the grounds that it has been substantially pillaged from a 1988 article by Paul Johnson.

    You would think that editors and publishers would be leery of an established serial plagiarist, but apparently the potential marketability of an “author” whose face is constantly on television trumps (you should pardon the expression) every other consideration.

  2. CSK says:

    If anyone cares, the editorial director of Broadside Books, Crowley’s publisher, and Sarah Palin’s, is Adam Bellow, Saul’s son.
    I suspect Adam would be most chagrined if Michael Reynolds or I decided to rip off Henderson the Rain King.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I am never going to be happy to see a book mulched, but plagiarism is the one acceptable reason. (Disclaimer: HarperCollins is my main publisher.)


    I am prepared to do a version of Henderson but only if I can lose the whole jungle thing and set it somewhere in, say, the Marylebone area of London, or perhaps the 1er Arrondissement. You know, someplace I could ‘research’ properly. Some place with 24-hour room service.

  4. Pete S says:

    Donald Trump established at the Republican Convention that plagiarism would not be an issue in his administration, when he allowed his wife to recite Michelle Obama’s speech. He probably views Ms Crowley’s repeated transgressions as a qualification, not a problem.

  5. Argon says:

    “Ph.D. in international relations at New York’s Columbia University”

    Whatever. Attend some lectures, read some documents & write a summary. A vanity degree.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @Argon: And it looks like she plagiarized just as much with her Ph.D. thesis. Hope Columbia yanks her degree.

  7. SC_Birdflyte says:

    As a writer who has to scrap hard for any shot at publication, it makes me grind my teeth when I see a first-class turd get a six- or seven-figure advance for a piece of trash such as this book. I have no particular love for Harper Collins, but I hope they yank her advance so fast it makes her plagiarist head spin.

  8. CSK says:


    She won’t have to give back the advance; HC will issue a corrected edition. And she will continue to be published, because she has what’s called a “platform”: She’s on television a lot, and she’s a syndicated columnist. Publishers believe that famous faces translate into mega-sales. Why do you think someone like Snooki of Jersey Shore got a contract to write a novel?