Sarah Palin Plagiarism Charge is a Massive Overreach

I was reading a story at HuffPo the other day about a speech that Sarah Palin gave, mainly because of the money in th505px-Sarah_Palin_Kuwait_22ae headline: “Screw Political Correctness” — Sarah Palin in Her Own Words.”  The words “Sarah Palin” and “Screw” in the headline seemed like awesome traffic bait, which is probably how that headline got composed.  The article was actually a snarky deconstruction of a subpar speech.  As Thursday was a pretty busy day for me, I didn’t have the time to work it into anything vaguely interesting.

Then, on Saturday, an accusation of plagiarism arose (since denied).  Geoffrey Dunne laid out the case that Palin had lifted portions of the speech from a 2005 article by Newt Gingrich and Craig Shirley (BTW, it must really suck to have a girl’s first name as your last name).  You can plainly see that Palin does, indeed, crib from the article.  So, what’s the problem?  Here’s the problem:

After (an excerpt that appears to echo the Gingrich/Shirley article but doesn’t lift from it directly), Palin acknowledged that, “Recently, Newt Gingrich, he had written a good article about Reagan….” (Recently? It was four years ago.) Without mentioning Shirley, she quotes and paraphrases from the article at length…

Cue needle scratching off of record album sound effect.  She announces that her speech is drawn from the article from which she supposedly plagiarized.  Dictionary break, people.


1. 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.

While Palin doesn’t mention co-author Shirley, or even allude to Laverne, she clearly credits Gingrich.

Dunne does make the point that the speech, from that point on, doesn’t make clear which parts are quotes of Gingrich, or paraphrases, but that’s not plagiarism.  I’m not sure what it is.  Palin certainly clues the listener in that she is referencing Newt’s article.

This is another in a long series of massive overreaches by Palin critics, and all they succeed in doing is undercutting legitimate criticism of Palin, while buttressing her claim that the media is out to get her.


  1. Cogent analysis follows:
    I read Dunnes piece and had the same reaction that you did. The plagiarism charge is way thin, though she does go on later in the speech using some unattributed stuff that seems like her talking. All besides the point though. It is obvious that she doesn’t write her own stuff. They hired some smart ass to write for her. The problem is obviously that the guy (I’m betting it’s a guy) is remarkably lazy. That’s why I say he’s a he. Now that, to me, is funnier than any of the rest of it. If he had submitted the speech to his 12th grade english teacher he would have gotten a D. A generous D.

  2. The ‘massive overreaches’ I think, are due to the guys Arianna is pushing over there. You can tell they think they are juuuust on the verge of success. It’s like ‘Al—Most—-There!
    Linkins is great, I’ve said that before. The guy who wrote ‘This is Your Country On Drugs’ is good too. Dunne is sadly pathetic. “Oh Gregory, Gregory dahling. I just know you will be mahhhhvelous! Freshen this up for Ariana, won’t you?”

  3. “It is obvious that she doesn’t write her own stuff.”

    A politician who uses speechwriters? Whoa, slow down there.

  4. You can easily view the vagueness of her citation as an announcement that the speech will be laid on the bones of Gingrich’s article. There’s nothing to the plagiarism charge.

  5. Ya know what,


    She still can’t deliver the umph….

    she just doesn’t have “IT”.

    even “framing” her speech and channeling Newt, she still didn’t cause a large enough ripple to affect beyond a fringe element within her will not change hearts and minds, only harden the already affected ones….

    Come on Sarah, run baby run….

  6. A good speech writer, will know how to convey the words of the speaker.

    Remember Reagan’s ” surly bongs” closing statement about the shuttle tragedy? That was written by Peggy Noonan, but you know Reagn felt it and believed it, it was his emotions and feelings, put into words, by someone who knew him quite well…

    Im cool with that…as long as the speaker can own it, and Sarah cannot own her words.

  7. (BTW, it must really suck to have a girl’s first name as your last name)

    “Shirley, you can’t be serious!”
    “I am serious, and don’t call me ‘Shirley’.”

  8. I doubt that parroting counts as plagerism.
    by accident, y’all are also making fun of Anne Shirley from House of Green Gables.
    that’s just an awful thing to do.

  9. Oooh, I just love the smell of snarkiness in the morning.
    Speech writing is often a give and take between the speechwriter and the politician. Some lower level hacks are even forced to write their own. I think though that the politician that is simply handed things to read out loud is rare. Probably.
    Sarah seems to have no input at all in the process.

  10. […] Also, where normally Ziegler might trot out something well-worn to attack MSNBC with, like Chris Matthews’ “feeling up the leg” remark, this time he has them dead to rights with an ultra-topical question about Countdown’s repetition of the false plagiarism accusation against Palin. […]

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