Tag Archives: Miami Herald

Governors Are Doing All Kinds Of Things Out There

James L. Rosica at Miami Herald:

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet have ended the automatic restoration of voting and other civil rights to nonviolent felons once their sentences are up.

Sitting as the Board of Executive Clemency, they voted 4-0 on Wednesday to change the panel’s rules and require at least a five-year waiting period before ex-convicts can apply to get their rights back.

“If you’re convicted … you lost those rights,” Scott said at a news conference later in the day. “There ought to be a process to get those rights back.”

Law enforcement officials and state prosecutors favored the change, saying people who have broken the law need a waiting period to prove themselves.

Civil rights advocates called the new rule a step backward, tantamount to double punishment.

The change is effective immediately and potentially affects anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000 felons, experts said.

Now felons will have to wait five years after completing a sentence to apply for rights restoration. This will return Florida to the Jim Crow era, when such hurdles were created to prevent blacks from voting.

Make no mistake: This proposal has racial and partisan implications.

A disproportionate number of Florida’s felons are African American, and in this state, blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The Cabinet has further alienated black voters by adopting these more-stringent restoration rules. What purpose does that serve the state or the Republican Party?

In the last decade, more than 20 states have eased the restoration process for people convicted of crimes. Florida should remain in this group of enlightened states. Instead it has gone back a century. It now has joined only two other states — Kentucky and Virginia — in requiring waiting periods and hearings before felons can get their rights restored.

If anything, the Cabinet should have considered more streamlining measures for clemency. The Florida Parole Commission investigates clemency applications, and it has always struggled with huge backlogs. For a time the Corrections Department even loaned some staffers to tackle the backlog.

Clemency application reviews still move at a snail’s pace, delaying justice for felons who have paid their debt to society. The Commission recently told the Legislature that it has a growing backlog of more than 100,000 cases.

Making felons who have served their time wait years to regain their rights has nothing to do with being tough on crime. By embracing this regressive proposal, the governor and Cabinet have sent Florida back to a shameful time of blatant racial prejudice.

Mansfield Frazier at The Daily Beast:

Cleveland State University Urban Studies Associate Professor Ronnie Dunn has written extensively on how, since the advent of the Jim Crow era, unfair laws have been enacted— particularly in Southern states—to deny blacks the right to vote. Writing in a soon-to-be-released handbook on prisoner reentry, he describes how poll taxes, literacy tests, and property ownership were devices routinely used to suppress the black vote and unfairly affect election outcomes.

Florida now joins two other states, Kentucky and Virginia, in having the most severe restrictions on former felons voting and other rights, such as serving on juries and holding certain professional licenses. Five black Florida lawmakers joined a chorus of civil-rights advocates in objecting to the rule changes, saying no evidence existed that the abandoned process, which was approved by former Gov. Charlie Crist and the former cabinet in 2007, was not working.

“It’s really not about what’s right or fair,” said Ken Lumpkin, an attorney and political activist in Cleveland. “This is about stealing elections and hurting an individual’s chances of starting over after prison. If felons had had the franchise in Florida back in 2000, over a million more people would have been eligible to vote, and the election would not have been close enough for the Supreme Court to give it to Bush. What this new governor is doing is rolling back the clock on minority rights. And with Republican governors and legislative majorities in states like Ohio and Wisconsin, no one should be surprised if they try to change the rules in those states also. If that happens, a Democratic candidate for president won’t stand a chance.”

Indeed, incoming Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, among other changes, wants to stop county boards of elections from mailing unsolicited absentee ballots to voters and limit the window of time they have to cast them. Democrats, however, charge that Husted’s proposals are designed to discourage voting, especially in big urban counties.

Ohio State Rep. Michael Stinziano (D-Columbus), the former director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said it would be “bad public policy” to prevent county boards from soliciting and paying postage for absentee ballots. The service, he said, alleviated long lines at polling places (such as those that marred the county’s 2004 presidential election) that caused some elderly voters to walk away without voting.

Back in Florida, state NAACP Vice Chairman Dale Landry said that individuals who have completed their sentences have paid their debt to society in full and should be allowed to vote. “Why do we come back and impose a further penalty?” he asked. “What we’re saying is that… the state wants to impose further sentencing, an additional penalty. That’s exactly what was done here.”

Greta Van Susteren at Fox News on the Daily Beast story above:

This posting is about the HEADLINE (not whether you agree or disagree with the underlying law.  People can differ on whether the law is a good one or not, appropriate or not.)

Headlines are to grab attention — but there is a point when they are simply irresponsible and trying to stir up hate and problems.   I think the headline below “FLORIDA’S RACIST NEW LAW” is exactly that – irresponsible and trying to stir up problems and hate.  The headline DID catch my attention since for many, many, many years prior to TV, I represented a lot of poor African Americans and often in issues involving civil rights.

Upon reading the explosive (I think it explosive) headline, I wanted to know more about “FLORIDA’S RACIST NEW LAW”  — and so I read the article.  I bet many just read the article and stop there — thus left with the impression that Florida is racist (or those who support the law are.)   In actually reading the article, I see that the author writes “[b]ut whether the move was simply tough-on-crime posturing or something more nefarious remains an open question.

You have to dig deep into the article for the “open question” while the RACISM was in bigger, bolder letters in the headline. So what was a PRONOUNCEMENT of FACT in the headline of RACISM (and sure to cause many people to be deeply disturbed) now remains “AN OPEN QUESTION” as to whether the law was a “tough on crime posturing or something more nefarious” (eg racism.)  There is a big difference between being “tough on crime” and being a racist.

Roger Clegg at The Corner:

Florida governor Rick Scott and his cabinet have ended the policy of his predecessor, Charlie Crist, of automatically reenfranchising felons upon their release from prison. The ACLU et al. are outraged, but it’s the right decision: Those who have demonstrated that they won’t follow the law shouldn’t be allowed automatically to make the law for everyone else; rather, they should have that right reinstated only after they’ve shown that they have indeed turned over a new leaf, as I’ve discussed on NRO many times — for example, here. Kudos to Governor Scott.

Alex Massie:

Given the scale of the injustices and barbarism that characterise large parts of the criminal justice system in many, perhaps even most, American states denying former felons the right to vote once they have been returned to society may seem a minor concern. Nevertheless it is a telling one and something that should shame those states that still bar ex-cons from voting.I’d have thought it an obvious principle of natural justice that we take the view that once released a prisoner should be considered a free man or woman. True, there are certain limited caveats to this (sex offender registries being the most glaring) and some jobs may reasonably (or reasonably in many cases) be considered unsuitable for former felons but none of that has any bearing on the question of whether released prisoners should be permitted to vote.

Clegg links to a piece he wrote elaborating upon this view that ex-cons shouldn’t be permitted one of the most fundamental rights we have to grant. But this is all he has to say:

It is frequently asserted that felons released from prison should be able to vote because they have “paid their debt to society.” But the felon-vote movement will, if pressed, admit that they think felons in prison should be allowed to vote, too. And society is not obliged to ignore someone’s criminal record just because he has been released from prison. Felons are barred by federal law from possessing firearms, for example.

Is that it? Apparently so. Ex-cons can’t be permitted to vote because that’s the slippery slope to letting serving inmates vote too. Colour me unpersuaded. This argument, however, leads one to wonder whether it is in fact possible for felons to “pay their debt to society”? And if they have not done so – as the denial of voting rights suggests they must not have done – then why are they being released in the first place? That, at any rate, would seem to be the logic of this matter. It’s a grim and pitiless worldview.Of course there’s the possibility that other motives are at play, namely that for a number of reasons ex-cons may be more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. But let us put that unworthy thought to one side and simply note that denying ex-felons the franchise is a further punishment that’s above and beyond and entirely unrelated to the crimes which led to their incarceration. I’m amazed, actually, that it’s Constitutional to do so.

No, it’s just one more example of a criminal justice system that, alas, should shame the United States. This is not a question of liberalism or conservatism but of decency. There are many things the Americans do better than us but thank god we don’t have their criminal justice or prison systems.

Incidentally, anyone with any interest in these matters should follow Radley Balko’s work. (And actually the New York Times should have given him an op-ed column years ago.)

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Crime, The Constitution

The Question Is, What Are We Witnessing?

Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie:

I don’t think it’s an overreaction to tell you that it’s all over for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Five days ago we were wondering if the Celtics had it in them to force a tie with the Cavs. Two weeks ago, we were wondering just how many games it would take for the Cavaliers to bounce the C’s in a best-of-seven. All year, we’ve been wondering if the team that was built to down the Orlando Magic — rightfully built to down the Orlando Magic, mind you — would be able to down the Orlando Magic. The Cavaliers never got a chance to down the Orlando Magic.

Instead, they fell in the second round. And it was about as public and as swift a realization as you tend to see in professional sports. All at once, the Cavaliers were revealed as undercoached, uncoachable and a frightened little thing. All at once, a column on what the Cavaliers will do next season falls right in line with a column about what the Hawks will do next season. We don’t know, because we don’t know who will be around.

I’m sorry, but LeBron James(notes) is leaving this. Whether by design or defeat or both, he’s made it possible to get out while the going is great. To hand-pick another group of sycophants to have his way and never have to answer for His Way, however misguided. The tri-state area, Miami, Chicago, who knows? He doesn’t even want to know. He just wants to get back to remembering what it’s like to be the self-proclaimed “King.” The sort of guy who has to remind you what he wants his nickname to be.

Doesn’t have to answer for nine turnovers in a deciding game. Won’t have to answer for not attempting to take control of the game until the latter stages of the fourth quarter, and only in the form of a couple of desperate 3-pointers that happened to go in. Won’t have to answer for that defense, which was embarrassing. Just has to answer to the question, “Who’s the NBA’s best player?”

It’s still James, you know. Just because we don’t really care for him at the present, it doesn’t take away from his greatness. We’ve all got brains big enough to handle him being the game’s best player and a crushing failure as a leader when it counted most in this series. If anything, it should add to the enmity that you’ve no doubt developed over the last week for this ghost. This person who should know better, but doesn’t want to hear it.

I’m not going to even try to get into James’ head. I haven’t been famous since high school, so there’s no point in pretending to have an idea. To me, millions are millions, and they all start to blend together once you get past eight figures a year, so I would go for the situation that would make me happiest. And the thing that would make me happiest would be a place where I could win a championship. Cleveland, had James actually deigned to try, should have been that place.

What makes James happiest, if all the rumors are true, is a place that won’t make him answer for anything. A place that, with the newness and brilliance of “LeBron James is in town!” so sharp in everyone’s minds, allows us to forget the self-imposed wreck that was his final two games as a Cleveland Cavalier. I don’t know where it will be, but even if he’s suiting up for my or your hometown team next season, it will be a cruel disappointment. This man failed the team he was paid to lead.

Scoop Jackson at ESPN:

I’m mad at LeBron because from now on (and “from now on” can be a very long time) I have to sit on the set on ESPN’s “First Take” and listen to Skip Bayless tell me (and everyone else that sits in that seat), “I told you so.”

And he will torture me (us) with it like we’d been captured and sent to Guantanemo Bay. He even sent me the email with the early confirmation, a warning of how he was going to make my life a living LeBron hell.

“Scoop, you have no idea how miserable you made my ‘First and 10’ life the last three years — you, Jalen [Rose], Jemele [Hill], The Stews [Doug and Ryan)] Jay [Crawford], Dana [Jacobson] ridiculing me day-after-day for calling him ‘Prince’ James and LeBrick. Even Wale and Common let me have it about LeBron. And now, finally, the ‘First and 10’ tabletop has turned! Get ready for at least one long year of payback. Now, when you all call me crazy, I can — and will — fire back: ‘How crazy was I about LeBron?'”

LeBron, I still love you, but you just made the next year of my life miserable. The worst thing that could have happened just did: You proved Skip Bayless right. And I’m the one that’s going to have to live with it.

Bill Simmons at ESPN:

As summer free agency approaches, LeBron’s camp will shift public blame to his coach (Mike Brown, who could be sued by Cavs fans for coaching malpractice after this series) and his GM (Danny Ferry, who dropped the ball at the 2009 trade deadline and never found LeBron a Pippen-type supporting guy). His people will make the following sentiment clear to Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert: For LeBron to even consider staying, you need to splurge on a better coach and a better GM. And even then, LeBron might leave. Part of me doesn’t blame him.

Part of me.

Because the other part feels as if we learned something substantial about LeBron James this spring. I always thought his ceiling looked like this: Jordan’s DNA crossed with Magic’s DNA crossed with Bo Jackson. Nope. Take the Jordan DNA out. Have to. Jordan was a ruthless mother******. Jordan was a killer. Jordan didn’t care if his teammates despised him. Jordan never, ever, not in a million years, would have allowed his team to quit in the final two minutes of Thursday night’s game the way LeBron did. His teammates feared him, loathed him, revered him and played accordingly. Bird had that same quality. In the second half of his career, so did Magic. Winning meant so much to those guys that their teammates almost didn’t have a choice; they had to follow suit. Or else.

LeBron James is 25 years old. He has played seven seasons — 548 regular-season games and 71 playoff games. There’s a feeling that he can still get better and, with better teammates, maybe he could. But fundamentally, to paraphrase Bill Parcells, he is what he is at this point — a gregarious, larger-than-life, supremely gifted basketball player who’s better at making us say “WOW!” than anything else. If he owned that cutthroat Jordan chromosome, or Magic’s leadership chromosome, it would have surfaced by now. In Wednesday’s column before Game 6, I mentioned how there comes a point in every great player’s career when you have to pour the cement, let it harden and see what you have. We poured the cement for LeBron in this series. It hardened last night. We know what we have.

Allen Barra at The Village Voice

Michael Wilbon at WaPo:

So we’re stuck with this conversation for 45 days, all the way until July 1 to be exact. Six-plus weeks of leaks and sources, of wooing and recruiting, of LeBron James being sighted at a haberdashery in Midtown Manhattan or a restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop or at a private party on Miami’s South Beach. Anywhere he shows his face it’s sure to be “BREAKING NEWS.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ stunning elimination from the NBA playoffs on Thursday night means the most curious guessing game in the history of modern sports in America is on, officially. Even though LeBron’s presence hardly means a trip to the NBA Finals, he still guarantees immediate and long-term contention, not to mention nightly sellouts, a run on jerseys and media coverage that will tilt the entire town toward the pro basketball team. And with that as the backdrop, the serious contestants are, in alphabetical order: the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks.

Oh, I nearly forgot the Cleveland Cavaliers, although this particular discussion is built on the premise that LeBron cannot stay in Cleveland after this defeat, especially not after rumored locker room disharmony between LeBron and a teammate. It doesn’t seem he can stay in Cleveland, short of management rebuilding the entire team. The trade for Shaquille O’Neal appeared smart at the time, but Shaq seemed to have aged three years between last season with the Suns and this season in Cleveland. He might help some team and somebody will certainly sign him, but he’s mostly incompatible with LeBron.

Even if Cleveland was able to package young J.J. Hickson and Delonte West, bringing in one all-star and another front-line player in one summer is very, very unlikely, so we move to the other options.

The big issue is whether LeBron is going to make a basketball decision or one geared toward marketing, exposure and his personal life. After talking to several veteran NBA players and several club executives over the past 48 hours, it was somewhat surprising to hear that few people believe LeBron will make primarily a basketball decision. Nobody I talked to believes LeBron was humiliated by the loss to Boston. None of the players I talked to believes LeBron is motivated by winning in the same obsessive way Magic, Bird and Jordan were, or Kobe is. They believe that LeBron thinks he has years to win, and isn’t particularly pressed at the moment to do so.

A former league executive, a former coach and a current general manager all told me LeBron is one of the most spoiled and coddled players of this generation and as a result isn’t particularly accountable, as evidenced by his refusal to shake hands with the Orlando players after they whipped him in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. It’s a particularly disappointing thing to hear repeatedly because, if true, it suggests LeBron has this AAU mentality that values individual accomplishment over winning. I could live with hearing this about, say, O.J. Mayo, but LeBron James?

A.J. Daulerio at Deadspin:

Yes, in the past two hours, many of you have sent in an email that looks exactly like this:

Subject: Please Read Lebron

My uncle is the general contractor at the Q and has been for the last 7 years. He is good friends with a lot of guys at the Q including some of the bigger boys in the organization and knows Gilbert personally. I was just told from my brother that a very reliable source informed my uncle that Delonte has been banging Gloria James for some time now. Somehow I guess Lebron found out before game four and it has destroyed our chemistry and divided our team. This is no joke, the only player worse then Lebron has been Delonte. I am not making this up, I wish it wasn’t true but it happened. Wait and see if lebron stays you will not see Delonte in a cavs uni again.

Or maybe this one, in which the source has climbed the ladder all the way to David Stern’s office:

A large number of NBA employees received a VERY interesting email today regarding a developing LeBron James story. I figured before the ESPN assholes get wind of it, you guys should break the story. The word from David Stern’s office is that Delonte West has been sleeping with LeBron’s MOTHER for a couple months now, and LeBron has recently found out. For some reason Delonte is still alive, but not for long – when Cleveland fans find out that for this reason LeBron wants out of Cleveland no matter what. This could explain Delonte’s decreased playing time of late, and who knows – maybe why LeBron hasn’t seemed to have his head fully in the game.

Of course, this should all sound very familiar. This time, however, it’s the mother of the star player — a particularly dirty twist on the classic locker-room urban legend. Unfortunately, this one’s picked up steam and become an “exclusive” for one site, even though it probably has as much basis in reality as the one about Joe Horn and Willie Roaf’s wife, or Jeff McInnis and Phil Ford’s wife, or Corey Fisher and Scottie Reynolds’s girlfriend (or was that Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher’s girlfriend?).

But yes — this rumor is spreading all over the place, and just remember that it is most likely coming from a bunch of 4chanish wags preying on the vulnerability all those sad Cavs fans searching for answers right now. Just for fun, we had Crashtern David Matthews call the Cavs’ media relations department seeking comment. No call back yet!

Jordan Ruby at SB Nation:

This morning, the laboratories of SB Nation Science had a hypothesis that at least 50% of Friday’s hour-long SportsCenter would be devoted to LeBron James in some manner. So, we tested it. The results:

Of the 42 minutes Sportscenter spent on the air (commercials make up the other 18 minutes), 25 minutes were devoted to coverage of Lebron James and his future in Cleveland. (That’s nearly 60% of the time. Hypothesis confirmed.) Only seven were spent talking about  the Celtics, the team that dominated Lebron and the Cavs throughout the series, and is still alive in the playoffs.

Six of the eight MLB games that were played Thursday were not mentioned; including a game-saving play at the plate in Baltimore, and a walk-off hit in extra innings by Vladimir Guererro.

In those 25 minutes of LeBron-centric coverage, I watched countless analysts and beat writers give their expert opinion on which jersey Lebron will be wearing next season. They mentioned a number of possibilities, but ultimately came to the same conclusion: “Well, umm…I don’t really know yet.” Its going to be a loooooong six weeks.

UPDATE: Trey Kerby at Ball Don’t Lie

Chad Ford at ESPN

Scott Raab at Deaspin

UPDATE #2: And Lebron goes to Miami. David Matthews at Deadspin

Michael Wallace at The Miami Herald

1 Comment

Filed under Sports

It Was The “Warp Speed” That Did It

Julie Brown at the Miami Herald:

The Novacks, who wed in 1991, had a tumultuous marriage. In 2002, Narcy Novack and two others tied Novack Jr. to a chair, threatened to kill him and removed money from his safe, according to the police report.

“If I can’t have you, no one else will,” she told him, according to a divorce petition he filed and later dropped.

At the time, Narcy Novack told police the incident was part of a sex game.

She also showed them pornographic pictures of women with artificial limbs, claiming her husband had a fetish for them.

Novack Jr. was the son of the late founder of the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. Ben Novack Sr. built the luxurious hotel in 1954, and his son grew up in the hotel penthouse.

The Gerald Posner piece that was originally at the Daily Beast, now saved by Slate:

There is little doubt the Novacks had a volatile relationship. In 2002, 11 years into their marriage, Narcy and two others tied Ben Jr. to a chair, threatened to kill him and took money from his safe, according to the police report filed at the time.

“If I can’t have you, no one else will,” she told him, according to a divorce petition Ben Jr. filed and then dropped.

Narcy told police investigators at the time that the entire episode was part of a sex game. And she also showed them porno snapshots of women with artificial limbs having sex, claiming her husband had a fetish for them.

The scrubbed piece at The Daily Beast

Gerald Posner:

Today I found out that I am suspended from my Chief Investigative Reporter position at The Daily Beast. I now realize that a method of compiling information that I have used successfully since 1984 on book research obviously does not work in a fail safe manner at the warp speed of the net. Some of the incidents raised by Jack Shafer are not plagiarism, but are instances in which I received the same exact prepared quotation or statement from a police officer or press agent as other reporters. But others are mistakes I deeply regret.

Rest assured, no one has been tougher on me than I have over this issue. I ask all of you to accept my apology for these instances, a tiny percentage of hundreds of thousands of words written over decades. I accept, however, the full responsibility.

Jack Shafer at Slate here, here and here

Shafer:

When asked whether what Posner did was plagiarism, Daily Beast Executive Editor Edward Felsenthal didn’t dodge. Reading aloud from the definition of plagiarism on Dictionary.com—”the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work”—he agreed that that’s what Posner did. “Yeah, you’d have to say it’s plagiarism,” he said. “I do believe it was inadvertent.”

Posner, the Daily Beast’s chief investigative reporter, didn’t make any excuses, either. And he made no effort to escape the P-word, which writers caught stealing copy usually do.

Stating that he was “horrified” at what he did, Posner agreed that it constitutes plagiarism. But he couldn’t figure out how he did it.

He said he had no memory of having seen the Herald story, describing himself as “absolutely sure” he did not see it before sending his own story to Beast editors. But that memory must be wrong, he said, because the similarities between the two pieces are too great, and the Herald‘s story was posted before he e-mailed his to his editors at 2:03 a.m. on Feb. 2.

“I must have had the Miami Herald there and copied.” He regards the subtle differences between his copy and the Herald‘s as evidence of him “doing the rewrite” of what he thought was his copy.

Posner:

When The Daily Beast had asked me last Friday if there were any more problems than the five original sentences highlighted by Shafer, I had confidently told them, “No.” It was not because I had subjected my own articles to so-called plagiarism software, or because I was in denial about any deliberate plagiarism. It was, as it is now, my own belief that all the reporting I had done for the Beast since last June had been original and had broken news on a number of substantive issues.

This afternoon I received a call from Edward Felsenthal, the excellent managing editor of The Daily Beast. He informed me that as part of the Beast’s internal investigation, they had uncovered more instances in earlier articles of mine in which there the same problems of apparent plagiarism as the ones originally brought to life last Friday by Shafer. I instantly offered my resignation and Edward accepted.

What was clear was that the excellent reputation established by The Daily Beast in the last year should not be tarnished by any controversy swirling around me.

Readers of my writing over 26 years, 11 books and over a hundred articles, have the right to trust that I have personally vetted and corroborated the facts I present, and that I can vouch for them. Plagiarism is insidious because it rightfully violates that trust. Just the mere use of the word raises the idea that the accused journalist has broken one of the cardinal rules of writing and is somehow cutting corners on research, facts, or original reporting.

Since June 1, when I accepted the full time staff position, I have published 72 articles (8 were published freelance before accepting the full-time reporter’s job). That averages about 2 articles a week. They all required intensive reporting, and the subjects ranged from the Michael Jackson death probe, CIA morale, Teddy Kennedy’s fortune, whether there was a John Doe 2 in the Murrah bombing, exclusive interviews with Afghanistan’s Karzai brothers, Roman Polanski, probes into domestic and international terror, and the Tiger Woods story, among many others. At least a dozen stories that I spent time researching did not pan out, and never got published.

I realize how it is that I have inadvertently, but repeatedly, violated my own high standards. The core of my problem was in shifting from that of a book writer – with two years or more on a project – to what I describe as the “warp speed of the net.” For the Beast articles, I created master electronic files, which contained all the information I developed about a topic – that included interviews, scanned documents, published articles, and public information. I often had master files that were 15,000 words, that needed to be cut into a story of 1,000 to 1500 words.

Shafer on this statement:

As one who has been working at the warp speed of the Net since 1996, who routinely gathers Nexis dumps, clipped Web pages, scanned documents, handwritten notebooks, recorded interviews, DVRed news shows, hard-cover books bristling with Post-It notes, and nests of newspaper clippings fit for the incubation of Layson albatross eggs, I don’t buy it. In recent years, I’ve written upward of 120 pieces annually, and my harder-working Slate colleagues—John Dickerson, Christopher Beam, Emily Bazelon, Timothy Noah, William Saletan, Dahlia Lithwick, Farhad Manjoo, et al.—have posted similar or higher numbers while writing on deadline. None of them has plagiarized. Nor have I.

Posner makes another claim in his statement that cannot go unchallenged. He writes:

Clearly, if I were a serial plagiarizer, I would have scanned my own drafts with such [plagiarism detection] software before submitting to the Beast.

But examples of plagiarized stories found by me and Slate readers establish that Posner is a serial plagiarist! Of that there is no dispute! That he didn’t scan his drafts with software before submitting them to the Daily Beast doesn’t prove he isn’t a serial plagiarist.

Razib Khan at Science Blogs:

The Ben Domenech case actually shows that yes, internet-age plagiarists can be pathologically dumb. There are plenty of cases of small-time plagiarists; my friend Randall Parker of FuturePundit was pointed to another blogger who was copying his posts almost verbatim. Small potatoes. But if you’re a professional journalist, you’re going to get caught if you have any prominence if people can compare the text on the internet.

I think catching people plagiarizing like this is a good sign that there are some mental peculiarities at work here; cognitive biases if you will. This isn’t cheating on college papers, unethical as it is, this is being unethical for short-term gains when there’s a very high probability that you’ll be caught and humiliated in public in the long -term.

Michael Roston:

There have been a number of big plagiarism scandals in the years that I’ve been a working journalist. But few notable incidents have involved writers whose primary method of communication is blogging.

There’s a good reason for that: bloggers tend to openly quote one another, as well as news stories written by journalists from traditional outlets, quite freely. Too freely in many instances, and that’s why we get into conflicts with one another sometimes about the fair use of text that we clip. Perhaps, for instance, Posner could take issue with the amount of text I copied from his blog post above. But he couldn’t accuse me of plagiarizing him – I’m quoting him, clearly citing the source, and linking back to him.

If you turn into the sort of character who steals too much from your sources without saying enough on your own, you might develop a reputation for being more of an aggregator than a blogger. You might also get shamed by your source (see ‘Grand Theft Huffpo‘). You could even get sued. Or, your audience may just tune out because people would rather stick to the sources you rip.

But you’ll seldom get called a ‘plagiarist.’

The reason bloggers don’t often plagiarize is that we don’t need to. We can make a point by piggy-backing off of factual statements or opinions from others, and easily make it clear that we didn’t say it first. If Posner had simply hyperlinked back to his sources in his Daily Beast stories – a process that I suspect is much more quick and easy to carry out than copying, pasting, and re-writing bits of the source material – we probably wouldn’t be talking about ‘Gerald Posner, Plagiarist’ now.

UPDATE: Hamilton Nolan at Gawker

1 Comment

Filed under New Media