I had heard before about Margaret Wente’s tendency to plagiarize other writers but had not seen any hard evidence of these charges. Media Culpa has done the hard lifting and provides multiple examples of what can only be termed plagiarism
by the Globe writer. In fact, the examples cited by the blog are staggering in their obvious lifting of other writers’ material, at times almost word-for-word.
Then there’s the issue of rampant hypocrisy.
Here’s Margaret Wente on slipping standards, lazy students and overpaid teachers: “When I was a kid…if you were caught plagiarizing, you got a zero”.
So after what’s been dubbed American journalism’s “summer of sin”, maybe it’s time to ask: Should Ms. Wente herself – one of Canada’s best known columnists – ‘get a zero for plagiarism’?
The question has been asked before (here and here, and elsewhere on this blog). In fact, a recent example led to an earlier Margaret Wente column on the same topic. Enviro-romanticism is hurting Africa, which we’ll look at below, shows substantial overlap with five other writers – similarities in structure and content, and significant amounts of identical and near identical, prose. So as teachers warn their students about plagiarism at the beginning of the school year, we’ll look closely at this example as Lesson One, and ask what kind of grade it should get.
You’d think that a person who doesn’t seem to ever have worked a day in her life – and no, writing occasional commentary for a Conservative newspaper is not work, especially when the writer is this lazy and so devoid of original thought that she allegedly has resorted to stealing other people’s work.
Prediction: What’s depressing is that Wente’s conservatism and her unyielding support for Stephen Harper will shield her from any damage. She will be forced to comment and when she does it will be that she is the victim of a jealous liberal media that can’t stand her success. The National Post and Sun Media will circle wagons around Wente and again paint her as the victim of the ruthless left.
Her bosses at the Globe & Mail will echo the other right-wing publications and show a suitable amount of anger and indignation, claiming that liberals and the left are mean people who have no argument and therefore attack poor little Meg. The Conservatives will introduce some measure in Parliament to praise and protect the Globe and Wente.
US rightbloggers will come to her rescue as well, making this an international issue, ensuring that Wente comes out defined anew as both a casualty and icon of the ‘war on free speech’. Instead of having to apologize or account for the alleged plagiarism, Wente will end up as a right-wing heroine and martyr.
Then again, Media Culpa is just a blog. Wente can ignore the post for now, letting the scandal blow over. But the malodorous residue will eventually find its way onto the national media front. And when it does, attacking the messenger and playing the woe-is-me game just won’t cut it.
Just you watch.