I was reading a story at HuffPo the other day about a speech that Sarah Palin gave, mainly because of the money in the 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.