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.
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.