Rand Paul's Rampant Plagiarism Is Pretty Much A Non-Story

Wednesday, November 06, 2013 - 10:51 AM

“At least I saw the movie Gattaca.”

That's Rand Paul defending himself this morning in the National Review. Paul was caught plagiarizing, in separate instances, from Wikipedia, The Heritage Institute, and The Week. The Week writer says he doesn’t care that Paul stole his work. Less surprisingly, the Heritage Foundation has the same opinion.

As of yesterday, Paul’s been fired from his job as a columnist at the Washington Times, which makes sense. Serial plagiarism ought to be a fireable offense for a newspaper columnist. But for a politician? They’re not elected for their original writing. To me, the sole troubling part of this mini-scandal is that it suggests Paul might be intellectually lazy. You’d like to think your representative’s clever enough to rewrite the ideas he’s nabbing.

But if you’re not one of Paul’s constituents, this is a yawner. It’s a story for the audience that loves gaffey, blooper-reel political coverage. (They also think most of politics can be explained in image macros.) Some of them are going to be frustrated over the next week as this Rand Paul story refuses to gain more coverage. Boy, am I not one of them. 



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Comments [6]

DrJoani from Vermont

Nick Pileggi upsets me more than Rand Paul's lying and cheating (since he has no moral center)
WHAT is Pileggi's problem? He is of that Baby Generation and apparently, unknowingly accuses
himself as well of self-absorption, etc etc. He seems to despise the people of his generation and to be so angry and full of hate.
I grew up in the mid- 50's (HS and then college) and was very much an activist so though numb in High School in college I was "educated" and became an activist I am one still, though in my 70's. AND I am neither self-absorbed nor passive.

Nov. 17 2013 04:56 PM
John Miller from New York

What a poorly reasoned post. Before finally weakly apologizing (for the actions of his staffers) Paul labeled those who discovered his plagiarism "hacks and haters" and then said that if if weren't for pesky Kentucky law he'd challenge them to a duel.


Don't forget that he also said he'd fail them for their journalistic efforts if they were in college.

In other words, someone likely running for President in two years time decided to attack the media and PJ decided it important enough to write about… to say it is a non-event.

A couple of years ago, "in a survey of 24,000 students at 70 high schools, Donald McCabe (Rutgers University) found that 64 percent of students admitted to cheating on a test, 58 percent admitted to plagiarism and 95 percent said they participated in some form of cheating, whether it was on a test, plagiarism or copying homework. Could it be that Vogt is so blasé about plagiarism because it it something he himself engaged in?

Nov. 06 2013 05:32 PM
Dailyskew from Floriduh

I kinda see PJ Vogt's point: in the grand scheme of things people who were going to vote for Paul don't care about his speech writers quoting Wikipedia without citation. The liberals and moderates hate him regardless of what he says.

The irony is that Wikipedia is not really 'allowed' to be cited in many academic circles anyway and its words are as open source "creative commons" as they could be.

One has to ask oneself why journalist professors, reporters, and mainstream media are all over Paul for plagiarism but not Obama (type "Obama plagiarism" in your search engine).

Nov. 06 2013 03:26 PM
Matt R from Oakland, CA

Wow. On The Media is one of my top three or four radio programs because it is a rigorous and thoughtful approach to news, journalism and politics. But this blog post is just lazy analysis. We don't elect our leaders for their "original writing," sure, but we expect them to uphold certain moral and ethical rules. As a writer and editor, one of my top ethical rules is "no plagiarism," with another one being "cite your sources," because citations actually make your work stronger.

In today's day and age, sharing content is a good thing, with proper attribution. Blatant copy+paste stealing is the opposite. A person who would do this repeatedly is not just "intellectually lazy," but also ethically compromised.

Sure, DC is full of such hacks, especially ones who copy+paste the words of industry lobbyists directly into their proposed legislation. But when one gets caught, let's be outraged.

Please don't be the kind of journalists that give people a pass because "everyone does it," or "it isn't that big a deal." Plagiarism is a huge problem and this is an opportunity to educate people about the correct way to build an argument and leverage the knowledge of others instead of the incorrect, Rand Paul way - stealing.

Nov. 06 2013 01:05 PM
Caractacus from NYC

He's widely considered a potential presidential candidate, and has a meaningful national following. Therefore, his ethical behavior should be considered, and considerable. Your dismissal of the story makes me wonder just how self-fulfilling the title "TLDR" may be for this new branch of the OTM brand. You really don't think politicians have an obligation to not plagiarize? To be honest? When thy are persuasive and believed in large part based on how well they communicate? Wow. Just. Wow.

Nov. 06 2013 12:28 PM

Really? Plagiarism is "blooper-reel"? Well, hell, let's have Jonah Lehrer run for Senate. And, the claim that it should only matter to his own constituents? That's a non sequitur.

As far as "not being surprised," I'm not surprised at a NYC-DC Brat Pack media insider analysis like this.

Nov. 06 2013 11:53 AM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

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