Monica Crowley, accused plagiarist, quits position with Trump administration

As I’ve reported previously (here and here), Monica Crowley, whom Trump’s appointed to be senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, was accused of extensive plagiarism not just in a 2012 HarperCollins book (which has since been pulled), but also in her Ph.D. thesis at Columbia University. Now, according to CNN and the Washington Times (link below), there’s even more plagiarism, and Crowley has bowed out of the offered position:

Here’s an excerpt from the CNN report (my emphasis):

The Washington Times first reported the news of Crowley’s decision. A transition official confirmed the move to CNN. [JAC: they mean confirmed Crowley’s decision, not her taking a position with CNN! Bad writing!]

“After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities and will not be taking a position in the incoming administration,” she told the Times in a statement. “I greatly appreciate being asked to be part of President-elect Trump’s team and I will continue to enthusiastically support him and his agenda for American renewal.”

CNN’s KFILE originally reported last week that Crowley had plagiarized more than 50 times in her 2012 book “What the Bleep Just Happened.” In response to the story, publisher HarperCollins pulled the book from sales until it could be updated to include proper attribution.

CNN’s KFILE later found thousands of words plagiarized in Crowley’s 2000 dissertation for her Columbia University Ph.D. Columbia has said any review of her work would be kept confidential. A review of Crowley’s columns for the Washington Times also found plagiarism in seven columns.

I’m not sure what motivates people, in these times of Googling, to plagiarize—to publish words not your own as if they were your own. I’ve previously reported that book publishers try to guard against this simply by putting in the contract that you can’t do that kind of stuff, for it’s impossible to vet an entire book for instances of plagiarism. But sooner or later, as C. J. W*l*m*n  and Jonah Lehrer discovered (the latter self-plagiarized and fabricated quotes), you’re going to be caught out, and then your reputation is shot.


  1. Tom Czarny
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    May the Trump dominoes continue to tumble.

    • ploubere
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      I hope. Unfortunately, they have a deep bench.

  2. rickflick
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    It’s an interesting way to build an administration. Invite anyone who looks good on camera and then if the press finds any bad stuff, drop ’em.
    I always thought they’d be vetted first. Oh, well.

  3. Niels Schonberg
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Was she the one helping Melania write her speeches? lol

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      No, it was Meredith McIver who fell on her sword for Melania [but Trump kept hor on it seems]. McIver has ghostwritten around five of Trump’s books & many of his speeches so she has probably long lost touch with normal professional values.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      More regarding Melania’s reinventions for those who don’t know about it…

      On the deleted site, which now redirects to Donald Trump’s site, she had an extensive bio that included this: “…Born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia, Melania […] obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia, Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan, finally settling in New York in 1996”

      A truer picture might be that from GQ magazine [an enjoyable article worth a read just to capture the essential shallowness of the Trumps] which claims she dropped out from the University of Ljubljana after one year:

  4. Rob
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    For once, why can’t someone insist that a plagiarist be required to return the profits from their fraudulent work?

    • ploubere
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      Or give it to the people who were plagiarized.

      • Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

        Speaking for myself, I’m not sure what motivates people, in these times of Googling, to plagiarize—to publish words not your own as if they were your own.

        • jeremy pereira
          Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:07 am | Permalink

          My Google search shows those words to be plagiarised (follow either of the top two results and the reader will see you simultaneously plagiarised two people’s words).

  5. Paul S
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    What frightens me most with the Trump administration isn’t Trump himself. It’s that no sane person wants to have anything to do with him. He will have no choice but to surround himself with people like Crowley, Carson and Pence.

  6. GBJames
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    It just breaks my bleeding heart.

  7. eric
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure what motivates people, in these times of Googling, to plagiarize—to publish words not your own as if they were your own.

    Well my guess is she probably had some insignificant reason for doing some minor bit of plaigerism early in her collegiate career. It worked, so she did it more. By the time she’s writing books and columns, it feels so natural I doubt she gave it a second thought.

    But sooner or later, as C. J. W*l*m*n and Jonah Lehrer discovered (the latter self-plagiarized and fabricated quotes), you’re going to be caught out, and then your reputation is shot.

    That’s the long term, law-abiding expectation. But I suspect a lot of people don’t think that way; their thinking about stuff like this goes more like ‘I’ve done this a hundred times before and gotten away with it. This incident is highly unlikely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.’

    And if you think about it, that’s even sort of true in Crowley’s case. She got sunk only because of the background scrutiny given to a President’s staff pick. She did not actually get detected through “regular” methods, and if she hadn’t become a Trump pick, its possible that none of this stuff might have ever made a negative impact on her career. She didn’t get caught out because of the system, she got caught out because she chose to take on more scrutiny than the system normally provides.

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m astounded people want to plagiarize at all. Don’t you feel like a fraud when you take credit for someone else’s work? I can see making a mistake and forgetting to cite something but word-for-word plagarizing seems weird to me.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I don’t get it either. Forget fooling other people – how do you look at yourself in the mirror? Maybe that’s how (rather than why) we’re atheists – we don’t like being fooled by anybody, including ourselves.

    • Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      “word-for-word plagarizing seems weird to me.”

      Not everyone who wants people to think they have an original thought is capable of having them.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      Maybe it’s just you. Maybe you’ve been left behind…can’t keep up with the new normal. Where false is no longer not true. Everything now is raw and real not true or false. Syllogisms have become Donaldisms. You’ll have to admit, Crowley would make a fantastic reality TV personality.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 16, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        I hope it hasn’t gotten that bad!

  9. Jenny Haniver
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m tickled pink that Monica Crowley got her just ‘desserts’ and is now eating a big bowl of crow. Sometimes one just must engage in ad hominem or ad feminam criticism — when justified (though some think it’s never justified). I don’t have a TV but when I’d hear her on the radio, the woman just loved to gloat. Gloat, gloat, gloat, all the time, about how prescient and how correct she’d been about Trump’s victory; gloating about her intelligence and expertise and her insights, and everything else that she possibly could mention which reflected glory upon her. I was perversely fascinated. But she’ll, brush her teflon suit off and pop up somewhere, make big bucks and begin gloating again as if nothing happened. “Those people” (plagiarizers, liars and crooks) inevitably do.

    • Rita
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      I think the type of person who does this thinks others are just not as smart, so will never notice. That also explains the gloating.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 17, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        The unfortunate thing is that there is a sizable enough percentage of the population that are just not smart enough, or are intellectually lazy enough, or simply ignorant enough to justify people like Crowley thinking that others are just not as smart as they are.

    • BJ
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      “But she’ll, brush her teflon suit off and pop up somewhere, make big bucks and begin gloating again as if nothing happened.”

      Next stop: Fox News contributor?

  10. jrhs
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I definitely don’t want to be in her dissertation advisor’s shoes.

  11. Posted January 16, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Has Trump blamed the press for this yet? I mean it’s obviously (in his mind) press bias that caused her to be investigated, and expected to live up to the standards of elitists.

  12. Posted January 16, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I think that people who write things that they want others to take seriously have to guard their reputations as best they can. If your written word becomes suspect than what you are promoting also loses any value. Your worth as an author suffers and your income suffers. IF your paycheck depends on people believing what you write, then having it found that your writing is illegement would ruin your worth. Must make it hard to get future gigs in that field. Hugs

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

      In terms of the future security & success of a writer, unfortunately, I don’t think reputations necessarily matter Scottie. It GREATLY depends on the audience/readership – a click bait ‘opinion former’ can write well paid lies until the cows come home.

      Malcolm Gladwell for example is an example of an author who writes feel good, self help books & he routinely backs up his nonsense with oversimplifications of other peoples research [often just polls basically].

      Then there’s Alex Jones, nearly every author of diet & health advice, creationist sellers of DVDs & books, every published Christian theologian and so on [so on = long list!]

      • Posted January 16, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        OH I had so forgotten Alex Jones. But I was not really think of people like him and the author you mentioned, Malcolm Gladwell who I admit I never heard of. You are correct of course, I just was not thinking of those type of authors. I was thinking when I wrote my comment on serious scientific authors or authors on a subject that they got their degrees in, like the author of this blog. That was who I was thinking would suffer if their reputation went away. Also I think commenters like myself who just answered everything with either gibberish or self promoting spiel would soon find my comments not only ignored but actively derided. I guess I did not think it through well enough. Thanks for helping me see more than I originally did. Hugs

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted January 16, 2017 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

          You are right of course – but except for data fakers, this mostly happens [it seems to me] when an acknowledged authority in a field steps across the line into territory where they have no expertise although there are cases of older scientists who must hold on to discredited ideas at all costs [Einstein to an extent]

          Examples of going beyond ones expertise:
          Linus Pauling [vitamin C]
          Freeman Dyson [downplays the importance of global warming]
          Roger Penrose [quantum consciousness]
          Rupert Sheldrake [memories are stored in our brains – “only a theory”, morphic resonance & more!]
          William Shockley [race, IQ & eugenics]
          Eric Laithwaite [reactionless gyroscopic propulsion]
          Fred Hoyle [abiogenic petroleum & archaeopteryx a fake]

          • Posted January 16, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

            You are far better read than I am. I wonder if public opinion has more weight to it than a scientifically discredited writing? In other words, would a disagreement between mostly equal scientists have the same effect as a public shaming of a writer of a scientific idea? While I would put more weight on a scientist I could follow I see sometimes that the public can be turned against an idea that maybe true by a well run public campaign. Hugs

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted January 16, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

              You need to post more at your blog. I enjoyed the Trump cartoons!

              The public? Ha! The public are fed their views by partisan media sources funded and/or owned by wealthy old geezers who want to be wealthier & even more powerful. How else can we explain so many people voting disastrously against their own interests recently? Although the fault also lies with the opposition being asleep at the wheel – not engaging with the blue collar unemployed/ underpaid & other constituencies who have been ignored for years.

              As a rule “the public” in my country [UK] & yours has no interest in scientific ideas until it intersects with their wallets or moral, political views. I get the impression that respect for science, education & critical thinking still has a place in parts of Europe [Hungary say?] & in some cultures [the Jews], but will they also lose their love of books & the like one day?

              Discredited people such as Andrew Wakefield the anti-vaxxer is still getting mileage & dollars despite a very public shaming from fellow scientists for his faking of data. I would love to know whose money is propping up guys like him [a rich republican or two maybe?] & the numerous paid [by the Koch brothers’ ‘charitable’ foundation & other vested interests] blogging climate change deniers.

              On a personal note, I visit good, kind, witty,engaging friends at their homes [I’m talking of three families] now & then & I see no books at all – their sources of information is typically a Sky TV subscription. I’ve learned to steer clear of certain sensitive areas such as refugees ‘stealing’ jobs or sexual politics [“paedophile males are homosexuals” is the latest I heard] because no matter what I say they’re not going to look beyond their noses.

              It is important to not live in a bubble – having friends who are an echo chamber of ones own views, but it is frustrating at times. Loony Christians at the door are a piece of cake by comparison.

              • Posted January 16, 2017 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

                Wow, you have given me a lot to think on. Thank you for the complement. However I think you have a better grasp on the way things really are than I do. I still tend to want to see life in the best terms possible. I really agree with you in the strongest terms about the tRump situation. It really frightens me as a gay man newly married under the current law. The advancement of openly discrimination laws under the fake guise of religious freedom is terrifying. Thanks again. Hugs

              • Helen Hollis
                Posted January 16, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

                What do you mean by Hungarians and Jews having respect for science?

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

              I subbed to your blog in anticipation of more of your thoughts on various [also equinoxa].

              I used to read a lot of Science Fiction for the ideas & some hope that it had predictive value, although I recognise that SF is closer to a discussion of the world contemporary to the author nearly always. The classic SF which has both spoke of ‘the now’ familiar to the author, but also successfully [by accident somewhat] pointed to the future is thin on the ground, but it is completely dystopian unfortunately. The prime example is Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four & the concept of Newspeak.

              I think that culture, both high & low [literature, film, photography, fine arts, music, theatre] has done a thoroughly poor job of noticing what’s going on & talking to the public about it [tho most arts have always been poor at looking beyond patronage]. Where are the protest songs & scathing pamphlets? There’s a few fat cat comedians living off appearances on topical panel shows [and not daring to be too ‘edgy’] & that’s about it.

              As for your situation – it doesn’t look good – move to Austin 🙂

              • Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

                Thank you. I have been advised before by several blog authors I admire to post more of my own views and thoughts on current events. Sadly I just don’t think I can write my thoughts as well as the blogs I see and things I repost. I have a lack of confidence in my own skills and ability to reason about the things that I find so interesting in ways that others would be able to understand what I am saying. I seem to do better in comments than I do in full posts. However I am going to try more often to write what I think on things that are happening. As for the idea of a progressive world working toward a utopia for all. I so wish I thought it could happen but I just don’t think it can. At least not the way I thought it would. It seems the USA has regressed from science and social good. While some Eurpean countries have taken great strides forward progressively for a better society, our leaders have convinced a large part of our population that anything not coming from our own country is suspect and wrong. It has become a point of honor to disregard, and even denigrate, anything other countries do. I often point to universal health care as an example. We are said to be the most wealthy country but we can’t do what other countries with much less wealth can, which is to give their citizens health care. Some say we as a country are too greedy. I don’t have the answer, however I do like the social experiences that have paid off in other countries. I wish we could learn from them. Be well. Hugs

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

                Even your road, rail, bridges – the infrastructure is falling apart & it took Trump to bring that subject up. All that labour lying idle that could have been harnessed years ago to ease the pain of transitioning to a post-industrial economy. The reason that this wasn’t implemented is sheer greed.

                In the UK I see this via the intrusion of under regulated monopolistic companies [often with share holders] into matters that directly effect general well being – result: profit motive rises to the top.

                My suddenly unemployed & rather ill aunt is experiencing this first hand with private for-profit agencies taking over some functions in areas once handled almost exclusively by fairly effective organs of local & national government. For example she needs a walk-in shower, but as of this year there is zero chance of that coming out of the local social fund for her city or the NHS. This is despite the many years of paying into a National Insurance & paying local property rates that have traditionally covered this need.

                This is partly the result of the economic situation & an ageing population having slimmed the budgets, but it is inescapably true that it is also a result of the poverty gap – people with money still spout about the trickle down theory helping the poorest while stashing their piles of dosh in ways that help nobody lower down [trips abroad, investments abroad, offshore accounts, tax dodging on a mammoth scale, outsourcing their businesses to cheaper foreign countries blah blah blah]

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

            @ Helen Hollis. Jews & Hungarians are not the only grouping, but they are the ones I’m familiar with.

            The list of very, very smart Hungarians is impressive, there must be something in the water! Here’s JUST the mathematicians including the marvellous Paul Erdos [my 2nd favourite, the first being an Indian]:

            The Jews are seriously hot at earning Nobel prizes – they punch way above their weight

            • Helen Hollis
              Posted January 17, 2017 at 1:22 am | Permalink

              Sorry I even asked. I mean that.

              • Michael Fisher
                Posted January 17, 2017 at 1:40 am | Permalink

                That’s fine Helen. Actually I must have unconsciously half-recalled the following:

                “The Martians” were a group of prominent Jewish-Hungarian scientists (mostly, but not exclusively, physicists and mathematicians) who immigrated to the United States in the early half of the 20th century. They included, among others, Theodore von Kármán, John von Neumann, Paul Halmos, Eugene Wigner, Edward Teller, George Pólya & Paul Erdős. They received the name from a fellow Martian Leó Szilárd, who jokingly suggested that Hungary was a front for aliens from Mars.

                In an answer to the question of why there is no evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth despite the probability of it existing Szilárd responded “They are already here among us: they just call themselves Hungarians”


          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

            Thank you for the links. I will have a butchers.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted January 16, 2017 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

            @ Jenny Haniver

            Good stuff I read them all plus a link inside a link by Pinker.

            Glib Gladwell quote where he tries to justify his MO: “And as I’ve written more books I’ve realized there are certain things that writers and critics prize, and readers don’t. So we’re obsessed with things like coherence, consistency, neatness of argument. Readers are indifferent to those things” – I regard this statement as a lie with respect to himself since he is entirely lacking the ability to apply self-criticism as he lies on his bed of soft dollar bills. It is not a surprise to me that Gladwell has returned to his Christian roots over the last three years or so – a gifted writer with blind spots when it suits him.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

              All that glitters is not gold. I was excited by Gladwell at first, but something nagged at me and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then these problems began to surface and I understood why — my bs detector was working, but needed a new battery.

            • Jenny Haniver
              Posted January 17, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

              That quote you cite is stunning in its arrogance and disregard of facts, and shows just what he thinks of his readers. I won’t be one of them.

  13. Helen Hollis
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I am asking you Micheal Fischer

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      I’ve replied to you above

  14. Helen Hollis
    Posted January 16, 2017 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I apologize for spelling your name incorrectly Micheal Fisher

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Keep trying!

  15. Posted January 17, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Well, at least that shows someone in the Trump team has a tiny sense of honour (or at least prudence).

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 17, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Which “My Little Pony” character did Team Trump try to blame this one on (seeing as how they already used up “Twilight Sparkle” to blame Melania’s plagiarism on)?

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