The latest media attack on Ann Coulter seems to be a desperate measure to undermine the credibility of one of America’s most prominent conservative voices.
Because, as everyone knows, conservative Ann had always been perceived as a highly credible and ethical journalist up until now.
But the publisher of Coulter’s book, Random House’s Crown imprint, has reviewed the plagiarism allegations and has found them to be baseless.
“We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding ‘Godless’ and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible,” said Steve Ross, Senior Vice President and Publisher of Crown Publishing Group.
Ross continued: “Any author is entitled to do what Ann Coulter has done in the three snippets cited: research and report facts. The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution.
Again, as everyone knows, one of the charges is that Ann lifted a passage from Portland-Press Herald:
In “Godless,” Coulter writes:
“The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River in Maine, was halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant previously believed to be extinct.”
An article that ran in 1999 in Maine’s Portland-Press Herald contains the following passage:
“The massive Dickey-Lincoln Dam, a $227 million hydroelectric project proposed on upper St. John River, is halted by the discovery of the Furbish lousewort, a plant believed to be extinct.”
And while that may seem like plagiarism to you or me, we have it straight from Mr. Ross (who, as a publisher, should know these kinds of things): you don’t have to give attribution when you are only stealing thirty words or so.
Now, on a completely differing topic, I would like to share with you some of my original thoughts on life, war, and stuff.
To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That was war. This is war.
You can find even more original thoughts such as these in my book,Better Living Through Bad Movies, so be sure to pick up a copy. (Do it now, before Crown steals it!)
But now, let’s get back to Steve Ross, who has more on when plagiarism is okay.
“As an experienced author and attorney, Ms. Coulter knows when attribution is appropriate, as underscored by the nineteen pages of hundreds of endnotes contained in ‘Godless.’”
Oh, right, Ann is a lawyer! That means she MUST know what she is doing, and would NEVER get lazy or sloppy about proper attribution of her sources! For, as Ann learned at the University of Michigan, “To use another person’s ideas or expressions in your writing without acknowledging the source is totally okay, since lawyers are except from intellectual property theft laws. So, go nuts! “
(Just to be clear, that’s not what the U of Mich actually teaches its students – Ann might want to brush up on its Plagiarism guidelines before she writes her next column throwing stones at the NY Post.)
And about those footnotes . . . John Barrie, creator of the iThenticate plagiarism-probing system, also mentioned them.
Meanwhile, many of the 344 citations Coulter includes in “Godless” “are very misleading,” said Barrie, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he specialized in pattern recognition.
“They’re used purely to try and give the book a higher level of credibility – as if it’s an academic work. But her sloppiness in failing to properly attribute many other passages strips it of nearly all its academic merits,” he told The Post.
But, like Ann told Scoobie Davis in regard to a previous work, “I’ve just written a book with 35 pages of footnotes, um, with probably thousands of facts and quotes.”
So, although the footnotes (or rather, endnotes) in this book too are mostly bogus, since she did include them, Godless probably contains dozens of facts and quotes. Probably.
Anyway, that’s our ethics lesson for today: stealing other people’s words and ideas is okay, as long as you limit it to many small passages. A publisher said so.
Posted by s.z. on Sunday, July 9th, 2006 at 7:30 pm.