Trump advisor Monica Crowley accused of extensive plagiarism

It’s a slow news day, and that might be good since it’s been at least one day without somebody shooting up a bunch of people or running them over with a truck. (Whoops—I spoke too soon. I just learned that a Palestinian apparently drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem this morning, killing 4 and injuring 15. A spokesman for Hamas called it “a heroic act.”)

Today’s bit of news, which seems to be reported mainly on business sites, is about Monica Crowley, former political columnist and Fox News commentator, now about to become Donald Trump’s senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council.  That’s an important position, but, according to CNN, who broke the story, Crowley may have compromised herself with extensive plagiarism in a four-year old book.

Conservative author and television personality Monica Crowley, whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role, plagiarized large sections of her 2012 book, a CNN KFile review has found.

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.

The CNN Money site gives many examples of the plagiarism, along with the original sources, and it’s pretty damning. Here are a few:

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According to the Washington Post, the publisher has no comment, and Trump’s people are defending her, though the passages above (and at CNN) are pretty damning.

The publisher, HarperCollins’ Broadside Books, had no comment on the CNN report.

Crowley has been named Trump’s director of communications for the White House’s National Security Council.

In response to the CNN report, a Trump transition spokesperson commended Crowley for her “exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around” and said that is “exactly why she will be serving in the administration.”

The Trump transition team says any attempt to discredit Crowley “is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”

This isn’t the first time that Crowley has been accused of plagiarism. In August of 1999, she published a piece in the Wall Street Journal, “The Day Nixon said goodbye,” which had plagiarized bits from an article published 11 years earlier. Slate reported this, gave examples of the purportedly purloined prose, and was surprised to see that the accusation quickly disappeared from the news:

Four days later, the Journal ran an editor’s note that read as follows: “There are striking similarities in phraseology between “The Day Richard Nixon Said Goodbye,”  [the column doesn’t give his first name] an editorial feature Monday by Monica Crowley, and a 1988 article by Paul Johnson in Commentary magazine … Had we known of the parallels, we would not have published the article.”

Like the case of Jonah Lehrer, who was fired from The New Yorker after apparent serial plagiarism, it seems that if you’re not caught, you can just keep on doing the same thing.

What strikes me is that Crowley wasn’t caught.  I’m not sure whether book publishers have any system in place to look for plagiarism, but it’s pretty damn easy in these days of Googling. Established authors who have been vetted might not have to undergo this kind of scrutiny, but surely there should be a way to do random checks of books by first-time authors.

My guess is that Trump won’t dump her; after all, plagiarism is just a minor sin in the Trumpian panoply of malfeasance. But surely she should be discredited as an author, and HarperCollins should either retract the book or reissue it after the stolen words are purged.

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(From the Post): Monica Crowley in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York in December 2016. (Albin Lohr-Jones / Pool/EPA)

80 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Why am I not the least surprised?

  2. Eli Siegel
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Fared Zakari is a serial plgerizer but is still favored by many.

    Many medical faculty put their names on papers written by drug companies but do not lose their positions.

    • Stephen Barnard
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Fareed Zakaria (note spelling) isn’t being offered an important job in the new administration.

      • Eli Siegel
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Good point.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      They also hire ghost writers that pretty much do all the work and then the medical professional puts his/her name on it.

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    She is a blond so getting picked for the job is not surprising, nor that she was at Fox. Sorry but there is a trend here. She should do the right thing and not take the job. However, with Trumps other problems I sure this will seem minor. A communications job of any kind for Donald Trump must include a lot of strings.

    Terrorism with vehicles has become the terrorists favorite method. Take away their airplanes and this is what comes next.

  4. Kevin
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    People who steal get Trump’s respect, not his disdain. This is the sociopathic equivalent of con-densation. Con artists accumulate in one coherence state to minimize the energy needed to produce more cons.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Besides, I believe Trump himself plagiarised large parts of at least one of his books. (I can’t find it because Google is currently returning links to Crowley.) I doubt he sees anything wrong with plagiarism – it’s the Trump version of freedom of speech.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        @Heather H. Surely he hasn’t the attention span to write a book – I think Trump’s books are usually ghosted where he just talks & his latest ghost monkey transforms that into something resembling a book. His vocal utterances are extraordinarily repetitive & regularly wander off piste just like the disjointed stories in his books.

        Incidentally to search for Trump’s plagiarisms prior to Crowley try using the Google date feature as follows:

        Google > search tools > click on “Any time” > Custom range… [leave the “From” field blank & enter a date before today in the “To” field]

      • rickflick
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        The ghost writer for Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” wrote and exposé describing how he essentially had to write it without DT’s help because Trump couldn’t concentrate more than a few minutes at a time during interviews. He denounced Trump as a candidate and un-endorsed him, as I remember it.

  5. Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    “Trump’s people are defending her, though the passages above (and at CNN) are pretty damning.”

    There is nothing that Trump, or anyone he supports could do, that’s damning enough to bother his people.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Yeah. The bubble these people live in is impenetrable. Show them evidence and they just scream “no it isn’t – you’re just trying to discredit me for political reasons!” And the followers believe it.

      • Historian
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Saying that these people (Trump and his spokespeople) live in a bubble implies that they are psychologically blocking themselves off from reality. I don’t think these people live in a bubble. Rather, they know quite well that they are lying and they continue to do since it has been an effective political tactic. Realizing that a great swathe of the American electorate can so easily be duped, they see no point in giving up lying as a tool to enact their agenda.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

          Of course and he is not giving up on his good friend and murder, Putin either.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          I think Trump knows he’s lying, and people like Rudi Giuliani and Newt Gingrich do to. But I think others are just like Diana suggests. Kelly Anne Conway is one who appears to have drunk the Kool Aid – she seems to really believe it’s all just designed to discredit Trump. She often appears to be in total denial.

          On Fox, Sean Hannity, Eric Bolling, Kimberly Guilfoyle and others are True Believers. CNN commentator/Trump spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany seems to believe it all too.

          • Historian
            Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

            It is impossible to get in the minds of each of Trump’s media supporters. Still, it is not contradictory to say that they can be true believers and knowing liars at the same time. It seems to me that the true believers are the persons most likely to lie to advance a cause they most ardently want to promote. I think this phenomenon is similar to “lying for Jesus,” which rational Wiki defines “a form of pious fraud which happens when some Christians believe that falsifying information is acceptable if that brings people to Jesus or somehow supports his historicity, saintliness or supposed godliness.”

          • Posted January 8, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            I get the opposite vibe from Conway. I think she is a master deflector who knows exactly what she’s doing. Any time something valid is raised, her go-to rebuttal is the Tu Quoque Fallacy. It might be Hillary or Bill, it might be Obama, it might be the whole “swamp,” but she simply redirects attention elsewhere. This can’t be wholly accidental given consistency. I’ve never seen her seriously entertain an accusation, much less dismiss it with anything resembling a logical rebuttal.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted January 9, 2017 at 7:38 am | Permalink

              Yes, she does that too, which I find really, really irritating.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          My “these people” didn’t refer to the politicians and their posse but the Trump fan base. The same people who post about Hilary Clinton going to start WWIII and how black lives matter is racist against white people.

          • Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            “The same people who post about Hilary Clinton going to start WWIII and how black lives matter is racist against white people.”

            People like Paul Joseph Watson who tweets that CNN lightened the photo of the Fort Lauderdale shooter to make him appear white, when they hadn’t yet even published a photo of him. A tweet that had more than 10k retweets before he finally took it down.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      That’s a gauntlet hitting the ground, if ever I heard a clanking sound. Anyone care to guess how low it’ll go before we find something that Trump and followers won’t tolerate?

  6. Posted January 8, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    We already know, in spades, that Trump and his minions are not truth-tellers. This is one more example.

    I’m more concerned about the Trump organization’s massive indebtedness and how his international business relationships may adversely affect national policies. Following is one of a number of articles on the internet about this:

    Anywhere from $300+ million to $600+ million.
    Call that business success?! This is the man
    who will cut government spending, maybe balance the budget?! I don’t think so.

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imbed anything; just give the source.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I can see the argument being massaged into shape by the seconds already. A great, no a yuuuge argument first used by one of America’s greatest presidents : the President is the embodiment of the country and the people ; therefore anything that benefits the president also benefits the country and the people ; therefore, anything the president does is both legal and in the National Interest.
      Good for Lincoln, or some president ending in “-on”, so good for Donald Smallhands. No?

      • chris moffatt
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        “…therefore, anything the president does is both legal and in the National Interest.”

        An argument already used IIRC by one Richard Nixon.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted January 11, 2017 at 2:37 am | Permalink

          Whom I was trying to parody. Now waiting for the “I gave them a knife – and they stuck it in” line; not that I’d expect such acknowledgement of fault from President Smallhands.

  7. Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Is there any type of punishment for scenarios like this that have some real teeth? For example, can those who were plagiarized sue to collect the royalties on the book?

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good question. There’ve been cases when individual authors have sued plagiarizers, I believe, but there don’t seem to be any automatic penalties for it. Perhaps if such legislation could be passed there’d be more deterrence to plagiarizing in the first place.

      • Posted January 8, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        I’m not sure what such legislation would do. I would think the onus would still lie on those who have been plagiarized to prove their losses. Obviously, a NYT bestseller is going to have different consequences for those who were aggrieved than say somebody’s thesis that no one outside of a few academic advisers read.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 9, 2017 at 1:31 am | Permalink

        “Perhaps if such legislation could be passed there’d be more deterrence to plagiarizing in the first place.”
        I’d be very wary of such legislation lest it inadvertently have a chilling effect on free speech. The major ‘content producers’ (that is to say, the copyright owners) would love it.

        For example, if I want to describe Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity – how many times has that been described by authors – and how many ways are there to explain it? Very hard not to tread on somebody’s copyright toes. Or, how much of the story of Xenu can I quote (for purposes of ridicule) without having my ass sued by the Scientologists? Or some minor band suing Led Zeppelin over half-a-dozen notes in Stairway to Heaven?

        Come to think of it, though, maybe a criminal offence would be better IF civil suits were banned, since the standard of proof would be ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ rather than the civil ‘balance of probabilities’ and a jury reasoning that ‘X has made millions from this song, Y has got bugger-all proof but he’s broke so we’ll chuck him a couple of mills as consolation’.

        cr

  8. Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    This kind of journalism has always irritated me — using “tapped” instead of “appointed”. However where that *sshole is concerned, journalists might soon start worrying about double entendres before writing something like “whom Donald Trump has tapped for a top national security communications role”.

  9. Sshort
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Crowley will do the usual and chalk up the whole thing to misattribution… “I had so many notes from so many sources and I guess I was a little sloppy in noting the sources…” etc etc.

    I agree with the Professor here that the publishers are possibly even more negligent.

    The evisceration of editors and fact-checkers in all media through willy-nilly corporate mega-mergers and subsequent cost-cutting has created an unprecedented void for plaigerists, sloppy-thinkers, liars and cranks to invade.

    Truthiness will out.

  10. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Very bad, but as you say this sort of thing will be status quo in the next administration. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, folks.

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      “Very bad, but as you say this sort of thing will be status quo in the next administration. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, folks.”

      I suspect this will be the status quo of what future we have left. Given that well shared, and liked falsehoods gain as much if not more traction than facts why bother with them given how much less malleable they are.

  11. ploubere
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    We have arrived at an impasse where, on the anti-Trump side, nobody is surprised by further revelations, and on the other side is total indifference to every awful thing he does. Indeed, the only thing now that would shock anyone is if Trump acted in an ethical manner, or did something selflessly in the interest of the country.

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Indeed, that would be surprising. Chronic shock in the media, as in immunology, leads to tolerance. I think we’re there. This is exactly what allows cancer to grow.

      • Sshort
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        And could the media, both left and right, work any harder to normalize Trump?

  12. Dave
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to deny when you even copy the poor grammar.

  13. docbill1351
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Aw, come on! Why so picky? Picky, picky, picky. It’s not so much plagiarism as it is being efficient with your time.

    I mean, take science. What’s more efficient – finding work that’s already published and just putting your name on it, or spending years and years and years actually doing work and then months and months and months writing it up, and then all that review and waiting and review and waiting. See my point?

    Look how easy it is: It’s hard to deny when you even copy the poor grammar.

    See, made my point in two clicks!

    Be sure to buy my new book, “Why My Opinion That Evolution Is True Is Right And Your’s Is Wrong.” And visit my website: WMOTEITIRAYIW

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      😛

  14. Jamie
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I am no friend of plagiarizers (nor of right-wing ideologues), but I question the “pretty damning”-ness of the examples given, since they are largely quotations. What is worse, to “plagiarize” a quotation or to change it? She ought to have attributed her quotes, certainly, but it’s a stretch to call repeating a quote “plagiarism”.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Largely quotations? But then they are not exact quotes either are they…

    • Jamie
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Sorry I posted in haste and I am obviously wrong. I have just spent some fruitful time educating myself on the definition of “plagiarism” and I see that the lack of attribution is the core issue, not the exact replication of the wording.

  15. tomh
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m a little surprised that publishers don’t routinely use plagiarism checking software, since there are plenty of good ones available. Teachers use them all the time.

    • Posted January 9, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Wouldn’t that presuppose they care, which I don’t think is in evidence …

  16. tubby
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Well, if the “exceptional insight and thoughtful work” you’re hired for don’t have to be your own, I could be hired for the same job.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      I think they were looking for an attractive blond. You still want to apply?

      • tubby
        Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Like I’d let a thing like being a short, fat, ugly brunette stand in my way.

  17. Russell
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I just learned the Palestinian man backed up to injure even more soldiers. What kind of monster does something like that?

    Key findings documented in the report include that the IDF also conducted ‘double tap’ strikes, meaning that first responders to an area already hit, lost their own lives in the second round of bombing.

  18. Scote
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Well, this should come as no surprise given reports that Trump is treating his cabinet posts as theatrical roles, casting people who look the part rather than people actually qualified for the job.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/donald-trump-is-holding-a-government-casting-call-hes-seeking-the-look/2016/12/21/703ae8a4-c795-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html

    But, given the plagiarism, I guess Monica Crowley may be given the role of First Lady now, since that seems to be Trump pre-requisite for the job 😉

    • Posted January 8, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I also thought of Melania Trump stealing words from Michelle Obama.

  19. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    ‘Purportedly purloined prose’. Love the alliteration!

  20. eric
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    In response to allegations, Ms. Crowley stated: “I am not a crook.” 🙂

    Thinking about the ghost writer issue, I wonder if this means (a) she didn’t use one, which is at least something, or (b) she should sue the pants off the one she used.

  21. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the most damning aspect of plagiarism, aside from the dishonesty which is bad enough, is the level of stupidity required to believe one can get away with it in the age of Google.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      I think it is because they know that their base supporters simply don’t care about honesty, except as a slur to be hurled at the opponent independent of accuracy. These people are worse than liars. They are bullshitters.

      • Posted January 8, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        “I think it is because they know that their base supporters simply don’t care about honesty, except as a slur to be hurled at the opponent independent of accuracy.”

        Complain about it, and you’re a pussy a wimp, a whiner, a loser, and your main problem is that Trump is better at lying, and bullshitting than Killary.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 8, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

          Ha! I’d almost forgotten about “Killary”.

  22. Posted January 8, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Slightly off topic, but Nick Cohen’s latest piece is worth reading.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/07/russian-treachery-extreme-and-everywhere

    “A large cohort of Cold War conservatives did not oppose the godless communist dictatorships of the Soviet Union and its satellites because they were dictatorships but because they were godless. Russia may be a dictatorship again, but the atheist state has gone and it is a godly dictatorship now that Putin has embraced the Orthodox Christianity of the tsars.”

    • Posted January 9, 2017 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Also: because they were not under the control / influence of the US.

  23. Posted January 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    And of course there’s this–

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 8, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Haha. I guess she missed that whole historical lesson about how the Berlin Wall was bad.

      • Posted January 8, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        “Haha. I guess she missed that whole historical lesson about how the Berlin Wall was bad.”

        I know right. A total lack of self awareness. lol

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 9, 2017 at 1:47 am | Permalink

          Can’t wait till she visits Auschwitz.

          cr

  24. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted January 8, 2017 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    On another tack, that is the second time in as many weeks I see “enhanced interrogation”. If it is the state newspeak euphemism for torture, is “enhanced grievance” the new euphemism for retributive murder!?


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