Who's Plagiarizing Who?
Did WorldNetDaily lift a passage from Ann Coulter, or was it the other way around?
By Terry Krepel
Let's start with the evidence, shall we? Here's an excerpt from an anonymous Aug. 29 WorldNetDaily story on Kerry biographer Douglas Brinkley:
[T]he Kerry campaign has refused to release his personal Vietnam archive, including his journals and letters, to other journalists, saying the candidate is contractually bound to give Brinkley exclusive access.
And here is a passage from a Sept. 2 syndicated column by Ann Coulter:
The Kerry campaign has refused to release Kerry's personal Vietnam archive, including his journals and letters, saying that the senator was contractually bound to grant Kerry hagiographer Doug Brinkley exclusive access to the material. But then Brinkley said the papers are the property of the senator and in his full control.
These eerily similar passages raise the question of just who is plagiarizing who. The dates would seem to indicate that Coulter is the guilty party. But Coulter does not have a history of out-and-out plagiarism. (She's more apt to just make things up.)
WorldNetDaily, on the other hand, does have a history of plagiarism. Its policy of cut-and-paste from other news sources occasionally leaves no place for crediting the original source, as ConWebWatch has demonstrated. One of the few corrections WND has deigned to run involved a credit for material it had plagiarized.
Plus, WND also runs Coulter's column, and the version of that column appearing at WND also contains that paragraph. Since syndicated columns typically move a few days in advance of the scheduled print date -- and since WND posts it a day earlier than the official release date -- it is more likely that the anonymous WND writer read the Coulter column in advance, found a paragraph he could incorporate into his/her Brinkley piece and ran with it.
Odds are WND is the sticky-fingered culprit, but Coulter's not exactly in the clear, either.
(A screen shot of the WND Brinkley article containing the passage is here; a screen shot of WND's version of the Coulter column with the passage is here. The screen shots are taken from the print-friendly versions of the columns.)
Update, 7/8/2006: As allegations of plagiarism have begun to swirl around Coulter, we examined the original source from which WND took its paragraph, an Aug. 28, 2004, Washington Post article. Here's how the Post's paragraph reads:
The Kerry campaign has refused to release Kerry's personal Vietnam archive, including his journals and letters, saying that the senator is contractually bound to grant Brinkley exclusive access to the material. But Brinkley said this week the papers are the property of the senator and in his full control.
While both WND and Coulter stole the same paragraph from the Post, WND at least made a stab at attribution.
Coulter changed a few words, but her paragraph is structured exactly like the Post's. She credited the Post earlier in her column for a Kerry quote, but that quote does not appear in the article from which she lifted the paragraph regarding Brinkley.
It appears that the party guilty of plagiarism here is Coulter.
Thanks to an alert ConWebWatch reader who caught this.