- Screenshot/Fox News
In her first TV interview since backing out of a White House job, conservative pundit Monica Crowley appeared on Fox News to dismiss allegations of plagiarism as a “political hit job” and claim they were “debunked.”
“What happened to me was a despicable, straight-up political hit job, OK?” Crowley told Fox News host Sean Hannity on his Tuesday night program. “It’s been debunked. My editor has completely supported me and backed me up.”
Crowley’s claims, however, appeared to be derived from two shaky sources: a thinly sourced National Review story based on a single Facebook post, and a colorful story from FrontPage Magazine, a far-right publication, that cited the same Facebook post.
In the simplest terms, the stories published in January that chronicled the plagiarism Crowley committed in portions of her 2012 book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” and her 2000 doctoral dissertation at Columbia University were not debunked.
CNN had found more than 50 such examples in her book, which HarperCollins, its publisher, stopped selling after the report. The news outlet reported that the book contained no bibliography.
Additionally, Politico had uncovered that Crowley’s dissertation contained more than a dozen sections of text that were lifted from other sources. Some instances lacked any attribution; Crowley sourced others in footnotes but did not use quotation marks to identify which portion of the text was directly lifted.
Crowley had been tapped for a position in the National Security Council before the instances of plagiarism were revealed by CNN and Politico.
“Complete BS,” Andrew Kaczynski, a CNN editor and the author of the original CNN report, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning. “Monica Crowley falsely claims our reporting on her (extensive) plagiarism was debunked. nonsense.
“No one has yet to point out a single inaccuracy in our reporting or asked for a correction on it,” he continued. “It’s Monica Crowley v. reality.”
Crowley’s allies in the conservative press, however, pushed back on the plagiarism reports.
The National Review published a story on February 2 headlined “The Anti-Trump Media’s Attack on Monica Crowley.” It was written by Andrew McCarthy, a self-described friend of Crowley’s.
McCarthy said the reports were “blown wildly out of proportion, to the point of smear,” citing a Facebook post from Lynn Chu, a copyright lawyer, who said she “found CNN’s splashy ‘plagiarism’ accusation to be ill-supported – a heavily exaggerated, political hit job.”
Chu said most of CNN’s spottings of plagiarism in Crowley’s book came from seemingly “shared proper names and generic phrases, or news and anecdotes,” which she said she considered to be “fair use.” She said CNN’s list “was misleadingly long, possibly a calculated attempt to condemn her with manufactured, but false, bulk.”
However, a quick overview of a sampling of CNN’s examples from Crowley’s book appear to tell a different story:
Of Crowley’s dissertation, Chu said CNN “omitted her footnote references.”
“CNN hid from readers that her footnotes gave proper credit to the source,” Chu wrote. “Readers were disabled from being allowed to see or infer that sources were in footnotes. It seemed to selectively delete footnote references (though some were left in) – perhaps so that readers would assume no visible reference mark meant no footnote existed.”
McCarthy, in his article about Chu’s Facebook post, highlighted that graph and presented a caveat.
“If this happened, it is shameful,” he wrote.
But CNN had addressed the footnotes in Crowley’s dissertation, saying, however, that she “often failed to include citations or to properly cite sources in sections where she copied their wording verbatim or closely paraphrased it.”
Politico similarly reported that Crowley “lifted passages from her footnoted texts, occasionally making slight wording changes but rarely using quotation marks. Sometimes she didn’t footnote at all.”
Additionally, Crowley sometimes initially cited sources but then failed to do so on subsequent references that appeared to be taken wholesale from or were extremely close to the original text.
Here were a few of the instances of plagiarism included in CNN’s report on Crowley’s dissertation:
McCarthy wrote that “from a legal standpoint” the evidence was not sufficient to support plagiarism, but he conceded that Crowley had made “missteps” – not exactly a firm debunking of the charge, as Crowley characterized it on Fox News.
The second outlet that aimed to debunk the plagiarism reports was FrontPage Magazine. Its attempt in January to clear the conservative pundit – in an article under the headline “CNN’s Hit Job on Monica Crowley” – contained a defense of one section of Kaczynski’s report:
“Amazingly, some people consider copying from Wikipedia to be plagiarism. It is an open-source encyclopedia whose entries on controversial political matters are zealously guarded by social justice warriors who prefer ‘wikilawyering’ and using their sheer numbers to prevail in edit wars. Copying from Wikipedia is often like writing down graffiti from bathroom stalls in nightclubs. No one knows if the graffiti is factually accurate or what the motives were of the vandal.”
It’s widely acknowledged that it is unacceptable for an author to copy and paste from Wikipedia entries in their work.
FrontPage also slung personal attacks against Kaczynski and BuzzFeed, his former employer, which was described in the story as a “cat video-loving so-called media outlet.”
Business Insider reached out to HarperCollins and The Washington Times, where Crowley was a columnist, to see if any editors supported her claim that the plagiarism stories had been “debunked,” as she said in the Hannity interview. The outlets did not immediately respond.
Crowley, McCarthy, and Politico did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.