Ann Coulter’s Plagiarism – Godless

Ann Coulter’s Plagiarism – Godless

[See Propaganda: Orwell in the Age of Ann Coulter for a more detailed examination of Ann Coulter’s history of plagiarism. – DB]

Plagiarist03

Plagiarism Redux

Ann Coulter unquestionably plagiarized in her first book, High Crime and Misdemeanors. Coulter’s fifth book, Godless, also plagiarized the work of others, as extensively unearthed by numerous bloggers.

Allegations of plagiarism in Godless arose on the heels of Coulter’s “ecstatic widows” controversy. The New York Post broke the story in early July.[1] Philip Recchia reported:

John Barrie, the creator of a leading plagiarism-recognition system, claimed he found at least three instances of what he calls “textbook plagiarism” in the leggy blond pundit’s “Godless: the Church of Liberalism” after he ran the book’s text through the company’s digital iThenticate program. …

Barrie, CEO of iParadigms, told The Post that one 25-word passage from the “Godless” chapter titled “The Holiest Sacrament: Abortion” appears to have been lifted nearly word for word from Planned Parenthood literature published at least 18 months before Coulter’s 281-page book was released. … [other examples cited]

Instances of plagiarism appear throughout Godless.[2] One lengthy sentence on page five apparently came from a 1999 Portland Press-Herald article.[3] Language on page 37 appears to have been derived from a Parents Television Council report in 2002.[4] One sentence on page 95 came from a 2004 Planned Parenthood pamphlet.[5] Another lengthy sentence on page 209 was lifted from a San Francisco Chronicle article in 2005.[6]

On page 55, “Coulter employs language similar to a December, 2004 article written by Gregory D. Kesich for the Portland Press Herald[7] on convicted killer Dennis Dechaine, but offers no citations for her summation of the case.”[8]

On page 63, “Coulter employs language similar to that in a February, 2005 article published in the New York Sun,[9] written by David Salisbury, the Director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, as well as numbers used in the Sun, without citing any source at all.”[10]

Several sentences and phrases on pages 66-67 were taken from an “October 27, 1988 press conference with Republican Senate candidate Alan Keyes and Cliff Barnes.”[11] Coulter “presents the exact same information in the exact same order as Barnes did back in 1988, including many directly quoted phrases, without citing anywhere the source for the information. As if it just appeared out of thin air. No footnotes. No mention in the text.”

On page 162, “Coulter apparently lifted language, along with the entire premise, primarily from the ‘executive summary’ of a 35-page report[12] written by Paul Ciotti in March of 1988 for the Cato Institute called ‘Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment.’”[13]

Chapter 7 of Godless provides 16 examples of “successful treatments achieved by adult stem cell research.” Columnist Ron Brynaert notes that 15 of those examples “are nearly identical to items in a longer list of seventeen compiled by the Illinois Right To Life website,[14] that has been available since at least September of 2003.” Brynaert adds, “For these fifteen items, Coulter appears to do little more than remove the parentheses and slightly change a word or two, such as ‘using’ into ‘with.’”[15]

Coulter’s publisher, Crown Forum, after a cursory examination of only three “snippets,” ridiculed plagiarism accusations in their official statement: “We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding Godless and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible. Any author is entitled to do what Ann Coulter has done in the three snippets cited: research and report facts. The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution. As an experienced author and attorney, Ms. Coulter knows when attribution is appropriate, as underscored by the nineteen pages of hundreds of endnotes contained in Godless.”

About those endnotes, Recchia also reported: [16]

Meanwhile, many of the 344 citations Coulter includes in “Godless” “are very misleading,” said Barrie, who holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he specialized in pattern recognition.

“They’re used purely to try and give the book a higher level of credibility – as if it’s an academic work. But her sloppiness in failing to properly attribute many other passages strips it of nearly all its academic merits,” he told The Post.

Initially, Universal Press Syndicate claimed it would investigate these allegations, declaring, “We take allegations of plagiarism seriously. It’s something we’d like to investigate further. We’d like to see a copy of the report. We’d like to start looking into it.”[17] A whitewash was apparent in its final statement to Editors & Publishers: “In addition to looking at the columns mentioned in the New York Post story, we also reviewed a sampling of other columns that have been mentioned in the media. Like her book publisher, Crown, Universal Press Syndicate finds no merits to the allegations of plagiarism brought by the software company executive. There are only so many ways you can rewrite a fact and minimal matching text is not plagiarism.”

The websites of Coulter’s two alma maters offer definitions of plagiarism which refute the claims of Coulter’s publishers.[18] Cornell University is very clear in what constitutes plagiarism:[19] “where you reproduce part or all of someone else’s idea in your own words (commonly known as paraphrasing), where you use or summarize someone else’s research, where you use facts or data that are not common knowledge, where you reproduce source material in slightly altered form while retaining the main idea or structure. Both direct and indirect citations require proper documentation.”

The University of Michigan is equally direct and damning:[20] “Plagiarism is representing someone else’s ideas, words, statements or other works as one’s own without proper acknowledgment or citation. Examples of plagiarism are: Copying word for word or lifting phrases or a special term from a source or reference without proper attribution. Paraphrasing: using another person’s written words or ideas, albeit in one’s own words, as if they were one’s own thought. Borrowing facts, statistics, or other illustrative material without proper reference, unless the information is common knowledge, in common public use.”

Endnotes:

[1]       Philip Recchia, “Copycatty Coulter Pilfers Prose: Pro,” New York Post, 7/2/06, http://www.yuricareport.com/Religion/CoulterPlagiarismInGodless.html.

[2]       Justin Rood, ““’Complete’ List of Coulter Plagiarism Allegations,” TPMuckraker, 7/7/06, http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/001070.php.

[3]       “People and events that made Maine’s century,” Portland Press-Herald, 12/12/9.

[4]       “Retraction to WWE And the Public,” Parents Television Council, 7/11/02.

[5]       “About Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America pamphlet, 2004.

[6]       “Pity This Blushing Bride-To-Be,” San Francisco Chronicle, 7/3/05.

[7]       See http://www.romingerlegal.com/newsviewer.php?ppa=8oplo_ZkrmmsspTUnjy30qbfek%5C%21.

[8]       Ron Brynaert, “More examples of ‘possible plagiarism’ from Coulter’s ‘Godless’ book,” Raw Story, 7/10/06, http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/More_examples_of_possible_plagiarism_from_0710.html.

[9]       See http://www.cato.org/research/articles/salisbury-050217.html.

[10]     Ron Brynaert, “More examples of ‘possible plagiarism’ from Coulter’s ‘Godless’ book,” Raw Story, 7/10/06, http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/More_examples_of_possible_plagiarism_from_0710.html.

[11]     “More Ann Coulter Plagiarism (Updated),” The Rude Pundit, 6/14/06, http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2006/06/more-ann-coulter-plagiarism-updated.html.

[12]     http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298.pdf.

[13]     Ron Brynaert, “More examples of ‘possible plagiarism’ from Coulter’s ‘Godless’ book,” Raw Story, 7/10/06, http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/More_examples_of_possible_plagiarism_from_0710.html.

[14]     http://www.illinoisrighttolife.org/stemcellsummary.htm.

[15]     Ron Brynaert, “In new book, Coulter ‘cribs’ stem cell list from right-to-life group,” Raw Story, 6/14/06, http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/In_new_book_Coulter_cribs_stem_0614.html.

[16]     Philip Recchia, “Copycatty Coulter Pilfers Prose: Pro,” New York Post, 7/2/06, http://www.yuricareport.com/Religion/CoulterPlagiarismInGodless.html.

[17]     Greg Sheffield, “Ann Coulter Faces Charges of Plagiarism,” NewsBusters.org, 7/7/06.

[18]     References courtesy of Rude Pundit.

[19]     http://plagiarism.arts.cornell.edu/tutorial/logistics6.cfm.

[20]     See http://www.lsa.umich.edu/lsa/detail/0,2034,53%5Farticle%5F294,00.html.

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