Plagiarism and Conservative Media

Is there something intrinsic to mainstream conservatism that causes it to so often lend itself to misrepresenting the work of others as one’s own? Though I ask in jest, whether it’s an aide to President Bush resigning after getting caught plagiarizing college journalists or the White House itself stealing the term “enhanced interrogation” from the Nazis, it certainly seems like Republicans have had the plagiarism market fairly well cornered as of late.

Just today, while doing some research on the “Energy Independence and Security Act”, I discovered some more right-wing plagiarism, this time at a conservative news site called The National Ledger. It seems a writer by the name of Vincent Gioia, a self-described retired patent attorney, didn’t feel like writing a whole article on the energy bill on his own — so it he just stole an article from Fox News.

In his March 2nd piece, Gioia writes:

A little-noticed provision of the ironically named “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007” that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last December bars the federal government from purchasing fuels whose life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are greater than those from fuels produced from conventional petroleum sources.

Now, from a column by Steven Milloy at Fox News:

A little-noticed provision of the ironically named “Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007” that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush last December bars the federal government from purchasing fuels whose life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are greater than those from fuels produced from conventional petroleum sources.

Sound a little familiar? It continues. From Gioia:

The Financial Times in its February 15th edition noticed that section 526 of the energy bill prohibits the federal government from buying oil that was produced from Canadian tar sands, a reserve that holds about two-thirds the amount of recoverable oil as compared to reserves in Saudi Arabia.

Now compare, again, with Milloy’s column:

The Financial Times article reported on how section 526 of the energy bill prohibits the federal government from buying oil that was produced from Canadian tar sands, a reserve that holds about two-thirds the amount of recoverable oil as compared to reserves in Saudi Arabia.

In the final example, while speaking of how Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) are looking to force the Pentagon to comply with the aforementioned measure, note how Gioia deftly attempts to cover up his lack of original material:

Waxman and Davis apparently expect the military to take on the impossible task of tracing the source of the fuel it purchases and then to refuse North American oil from unconventional sources apparently in favor of oil from OPEC sources such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. How’s that for energy independence and security?

Now compare with the original:

Waxman and Davis apparently expect the military to expend the Herculean effort of tracing the source of the fuel it purchases and then to refuse North American oil from unconventional sources apparently in favor of oil from OPEC sources such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. How’s that for energy independence and security?

Clearly there’s no question that this is a case of plagiarism. So has National Ledger taken the offending article off its site and issued an apology? Why, of course not. After I pointed out Mr. Gioia’s “borrowing” of Mr. Malloy’s column, the editors at the site have taken the article off of their homepage — but not their site. And they continue to host a whole slew of articles by the same plagiarist, though it’s uncertain how much of these articles the author wrote himself versus how much he borrowed from more talented, established columnists.

The moral? That apparently, in the age of Google, some people still are so brazen (and incapable of writing their own material) that they’ll blatantly steal from others — and that their publishers will simply try to cover for them.

If you have a minute or two to spare, feel free to go here and tell the editors of The National Ledger that you prefer your right-wing talking points to be original, thank you very much.

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About Charles Davis

A writer and producer with whose work has aired on television and radio and been published by outlets such as Al Jazeera, The Intercept, The Nation and The New Republic.
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