Monica Crowley’s Massive Plagiarism

BY JOHN K. WILSON

CNN is reporting some very important news about talk show host Monica Crowley, Trump’s pick as senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council: she is a plagiarist.

And this is not your garden-variety, “oops I copied a few things accidentally” excuse kind of plagiarism. This is massive, systematic, intentional plagiarism. CNN’s revelations of Crowley’s plagiarism go on and on and on.

Trump’s transition team immediately jumped to defend Crowley’s plagiarism:

HarperCollins—one of the largest and most respected publishers in the world—published her book which has become a national best-seller. Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.

No, good journalism is not a politically motivated attack. And the fact that a major publisher published plagiarism does not make it cease to be plagiarism. Will HarperCollins ruin its reputation in the publishing industry by trying to defend this obvious intellectual dishonesty?

Of course, we know that intellectual dishonesty is regarded as a necessary qualification for Donald Trump and his administration, as it has been for the conservative movement for decades. How many other conservative best-sellers are full of plagiarism that no one in the media has bothered to expose?

But this appointment is absolutely intolerable, and completely indefensible. Will Trump really want to spend his time defending the fraud of a talk show host turned PR hack for Trumpism?

As I note in my book, Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire, Trump is a pathological liar. But the last thing he wants to do is to expose that fact by appointing an obvious plagiarist to help him communicate.

9 thoughts on “Monica Crowley’s Massive Plagiarism

  1. Pingback: Monica Crowley’s Massive Plagiarism – Make word

  2. On the other hand, we are entering into a sort of bizarro world that has its own strange consistency. Trump did not actually write much, if any, of “his” signature bestseller The Art of the Deal; he ran a “university” that seems not to have measured up even as a series of hotel seminars; and he has his name on all sorts of properties that he doesn’t really own–never mind those that he does “own” but that appear to be so highly leveraged with banks that he may never actually own them, Moreover, almost none of his other nominees for Cabinet or other positions appear to have anything but antipathy for the departments that they are being designated to lead.

  3. I have noticed a tendency in recent years for some academics to display an intellectually dishonest, verging on ignorant, and unhealthy response to this. Plagiarism is not a crime. That single statement needs to be drilled into the brains of some academics. Certain types of copying (but not plagiarism) such as copyright or trademark infringement can be the subject of legal action (though most of them are still not crimes). Plagiarims is not one of them, it is a description of a failure to abide by a socially enforced ethical value within a very specific sub-culture (namely Western academia, not even scholarly cultures in general). Within very specific institutional situations it is sufficiently unethical that sanctions exist and can be enforced against individuals who have agreed to abide by the code of conduct involved and to the very limited degree permitted by the wider laws of society. But even there it is not still not a crime. And outside that very specific context not only is it not a crime it is not even unethical.
    The book in question is for a popular audience, written by someone who is clearly not an academic, and according to that CNN article features neither notes nor bibliography. Why would any reasonable person expect it to abide by the esoteric rules of the exceptionally small sub-culture I am a member of when it deliberately eschews all of the markers of that subculture?
    Now you might be able to make an argument that people in these roles should be drawn from that subculture (a technocractic rather than democratic one) but since Trump was elected precisely by people who rejected that argument and the subculture in question I do not see how it is relevant. To try and impose your narrow subcultures context specific values on others who have not agreed to them would push plagiarism into the same territory as honour culture – and that is a path I (and I suspect any sane academic) do not want to go down.

    • There are many reasons why you’re wrong, but let’s start with the most obvious: rejecting your dubious theories of cultural relativism is not an act of intellectual dishonesty. Even if I thought you were right about plagiarism, it wouldn’t be intellectually dishonest to disagree with you. You’re trying to impose the values of your particular elitist subculture on us, namely your idea that academics have standards, but there should be no intellectual standards for anyone who writes for a popular audience. I firmly reject that academic/popular double standard. So, to answer this basic questions, what’s wrong with plagiarism? First, it’s dishonest to take credit for the work of others. Second, it’s dishonest to lie about your skills and abilities. Publishing a book where you steal from others is like lying on your resume. I’m not aware of anyone who thinks that plagiarism should be a crime and plagiarists should be imprisoned. But it is certainly unethical, just like lying, and we should criticize it.

    • You claim that “outside that very specific context not only is it [plagiarism] not a crime it is not even unethical.” Some statements are absurd, and that is one of them. First, plagiarism can rise to the level of a crime, and indeed writers have been sued for plagiarism and have had contracts revoked based on plagiarism.
      But you go further — you pretend that cheating and misrepresentation of another’s work as your own is ethical. It isn’t. By your logic, if I slapped my name on a Tom Clancy book and sold it, I would be guilty of no moral breach and no crime. Really? Really?
      For most of us who actually understand what plagiarism is, we realize that is a moral failure. It may be a failure done out of ignorance, or it might be willful. But it is a moral failure. In the case of a person who has a PhD, like Crowley, it is impossible to argue that she plagiarized “by mistake.”

  4. Monica Conway has apparently committed plagiarism on repeated occasions, and that is a character feature which Donald Trump and his transition team would have ascertained through doing their due diligence prior to naming her the nominee as director of strategic communications for the National Security Council. Presumably, therefore, her tendency to plagiarize was a factor in favour of nominating her to the post, and that of course is the prerogative of Mr. Trump and his team. However, there is a message in this nomination for Canada and other U.S. allies when it comes to trusting strategic communications on matters involving the U.S. National Security Council. That is, while the concept of plagiarism may seem a touch vague, incidents of plagiarism in academia, the courts, business, and politics have generated a number of more explicit and directive terms to describe plagiarists and plagiarizing that should cause heads of state to be very skeptical of any strategic communications penned, typed, uttered, etc., by Ms. Conway should her nomination be approved. Among the non-profane terms to describe plagiarizers and plagiarizing are the following: cheat, cheater, cheating, deceitful, deception, deceptive, dishonest, fake, fraud, impostor, liar, lying, misleading, misrepresentation, not believable, not credible, not to be trusted, phony, rip-off artist, scam artist, thief, unethical, and untrustworthy. Heads up!

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