Famous US journo under plagiarism cloud

Arnaud de Borchgrave, a noted Cold War foreign correspondent and an editor-in-chief of the conservative Washington Times newspaper, has gone on leave under a cloud of plagiarism accusations, and editors of the Times were accused of having known about his plagiarism and covering up for him.

The Times said on Tuesday that de Borchgrave was on leave to finish his memoirs, and that the paper would conduct an “internal assessment” of his columns.

The exposé by the Washington Post’s Eric Wemple

Accusations of plagiarism surfaced in an opinion blog at the Washington Post by Eric Wemple. (After his column, a lawyer threatened in a comment to have him sacked.)

The Washington Post, the dominant paper in the city, is famous for its Watergate exposé of President Richard Nixon. The smaller-circulation Washington Times, owned by Sun Myun Moon’s Unification Church, holds right-wing editorial views.

Arnaud de Borchgrave built his reputation as a correspondent for United Press International, one of the two large US wire services until the 1990s, and then chief corrrespondent and senior editor editor-in-chief of Newsweek magazine. He became editor-in-chief of the rightwing Times after it was bought by the Moonies, who also bought UPI.

Editors of the Times were accused by Salon magazine of covering up de Borchgrave’s plagiarism. “Editors knew there was an apparent plagiarist on staff but let him keep writing,” Salon said. Over the past year, de Borchgrave had “lifted passages verbatim, or nearly verbatim, from the Internet and other sources, without attribution — a fact the Washington Times’ leadership tried to sweep under the rug, according to insiders at the paper”.

One example of de Borchgrave’s plagiarism that the Post picked up was a UPI column on Jan. 3. Quote:

Facebook is the global 900-pound gorilla of social media networks. It reaches 55 percent of the world’s global audience, accounting for roughly 75 percent of time spent on social networking sites. That’s one in every seven minutes spent online all over the world (comScore’s 10/11 data indicate).”

• Explanation by de Borchgrave: “As I recall, there was a social media conference where I picked this up and received thanks from one of the sponsors.”
• Response by ClickZ editor: “It sucks. It just sucks. I mean, come on,” Anna Maria Virzi said. “The author appears to be lazy and I can’t believe that he could not research this himself and even rewrite a little bit more of this so it doesn’t look so obvious.”

Threat by a lawyer to have Eric Wemple fired

» Washington Post exposé: Originality deficit? – Eric Wemple
» Coverup at Washington Times – Salon.com
» Arnaud de Borchgrave’s work scrutinised for plagiarism – Eric Wemple
» Attorney Plots to Get WaPo’s Wemple Fired

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