Is the Media Ignoring Possible Plagiarism By Al Franken?

In the summer of 2001, the liberal organization FAIR published a report about what they perceived to be a conservative bias at Fox News Channel. In "The Most Biased Name in News," FAIR's Seth Ackerman wrote:

Even Fox's "left-right" debate show, Hannity & Colmes--whose Crossfire-style format virtually imposes numerical equality between conservatives and "liberals"--can't shake the impression of resembling a Harlem Globetrotters game ...

Now check this out. Two years later, Al Franken published a bestselling book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. On page 63 (first edition, hardcover), Franken wrote,

For those of you unfamiliar with the Hannity and Colmes dynamic, it's a conservative-versus-liberal talking head show, kind of a combination between Crossfire and a Harlem Globetrotters game.

"Crossfire"? "A Harlem Globetrotters game"? "Conservatives"? "Liberals"? Yikes. Many people would call this plagiarism. And in his 2005 book, Pants on Fire: How Al Franken Lies, Smears, and Deceives, writer Alan Skorski provides compelling evidence that "Franken appears to have plagiarized" several passages of his book from FAIR's 2001 report.In all, Mr. Skorski cites a total of ten passages in Franken's book which bear "striking similarities" to the FAIR report. The glaring problem: Franken does not properly cite FAIR's report. Rather, he attributes the words as his own. Franken's "Sources and Notes" section at the back of his book contains no citation of the FAIR report. (The FAIR organization itself is merely given a mention buried among nearly a hundred names in a four-and-a-quarter-page "Acknowledgments" section, where his agent, lawyer, editor etc. are also thanked.)A reminder: Franken composed his book during a fellowship at Harvard. The cited passages of Franken's writings do not appear to meet the criteria of Harvard's policy of academic honesty (cited at Harvard's Department of Continuing Education). To define plagiarism, Harvard released WRITING WITH SOURCES: A Guide for Harvard Students in 1995. It says:

Plagiarism is passing off a source's information, ideas, or words as your own by omitting to cite them, an act of lying, cheating, and stealing.

Oh, yeah. Franken is now a serious candidate for United States Senator.Here's some more ... food ... for ... thought, Minnesota.

Dave Pierre
Dave Pierre is a contributing writer to NewsBusters and the creator of TheMediaReport.com.