Liberals Devour Their Own: New York Times Attacked for Giving Both Sides of a Historian Plagiarism Fight

When the Left can't defend their plagiarists, they attack -- the original author?  Reagan biographer Craig Shirley's work has been lifted almost word for word by liberal historian Rick Perlstein in his book, Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan in no fewer than an astonishing allegation of 19 instances of plagiarism and as many as 50 instances of using his work without referencing him.  Shirley is the author of the 2004 book Reagan's Revolution.
 
The New York Times
published an article on the fact that Mr. Shirley had made the accusations, and aired his evidence. Then their "public editor" Margaret Sullivan publicly claimed  the paper was in error for -- get this -- even airing Craig Shirley's "accusations."  Jeffrey Lord reported on this here as well.

The left's habit of attacking any conservative who has a salient, proveable, airtight case against any liberal person or establishment went into manic mode when The American Prospect decided that since they couldn't actually deny Mr. Shirley was correct, and could not defend left-wing plagiarist Rick Perlstein for stealing the work of the conservative author, it was best to just attack the character of the attacker.  Or at least try. 

Adele M. Stan tried to discredit Shirley because in addition to being a successful author, he works in public relations. Her subhead was "An assault on the character of a progressive intellectual invites an assessment of the attacker's character—not to mention his client list."

Shirley has had fellow author -- extremely successful and influential author -- Ann Coulter as a client, as well as the NRA and a pro-life group.  How this makes Rick Perlstein's theft of Craig Shirley's work any less plagiaristic is not made clear.  But this didn't stop Ms. Stan from taking issue with the practice of presenting both sides: "In a recent article about attacks on the character of historian Rick Perlstein, the New York Times dropped the ball of responsible journalism by giving equal weight to the claims of the attacker and the defense mounted by the attacked."


Stan argued that Shirley slimed Perlstein to defend his Reagan fairy tale:

In the case of smearing Perlstein, that philosophical goal would appear to be for control of the Reagan narrative that Shirley himself has sought to shape in his two biographies. The narrative, of course, is that of Reagan as noble revolutionary, a narrative threatened by the Perlstein book, which sets the right's idol in the context of the tumult of his times, noting his role as an apologist for Watergate and reviser of the outcome of the Vietnam War as a win for America. In Perlstein's telling, Reagan is less the noble revolutionary than the canny beneficiary of a clueless political establishment and a nation in longing for a denialist reinventor of its recent history.

It is, however, hard to accept Shirley's goal in blindsiding Perlstein as merely philosophical; it's surely personal, as well. If one has appointed oneself as the chief storyteller of an era, it must be painful to watch a young upstart win accolades for killing your happily-ever-after ending...

Yes, the liberal New York Times is getting beaten up by itself and other liberals for giving both sides of the issue -- and admitting it.

Cheri Jacobus
Cheri Jacobus
Cheri Jacobus is president of Capitol Strategies PR.