If Self-Plagiarism in Editorial Cartoons Is Bad, How About NY Times Editorials?

Times recycledA couple of weeks ago, Ethics Alarms gave political cartoonist Ted Rall an Ethics Hero designation for calling out his own profession for the practice of lifting the work of other cartoonists, as well recycling their previous cartoons as new. I hadn’t been aware of the problem, but apparently Rall wasn’t the first in his field to condemn it. Now James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal blog “Best of the Web” has found evidence of self-plagiarism in actual editorials…those of the New York Times! Taranto, who has been on a real roll lately, reveals of the Times editors…

“In a Jan. 8 editorial in praise of Hagel’s nomination, they wrote:

“On national security policy, there is much to like about Mr. Hagel, one of a fading breed of sensible moderate Republicans.”

“In a  Feb. 1 editorial after the hearings, they had a slightly different take:

“There is much to like about the approach to national security policy taken by this decorated Vietnam veteran and former senator who is among a fading breed of sensible, moderate Republicans.”

“The Jan. 8 editorial also included this trenchant observation:

“The opponents are worried that Mr. Hagel will not be sufficiently in lock step with the current Israeli government and cannot be counted on to go to war against Iran over its nuclear program if it comes to that.”

“And here’s what they said after the hearing:

“Mr. Hagel’s opponents fret that he will not be sufficiently in lock step with the current Israeli government and cannot be counted on to go to war over Iran’s nuclear program if it comes to that.”

In the same week that Harvard, supposedly the standard-bearer for elite colleges, had to throw more than 50 students out of school for cheating, it is disturbing to see the flag ship of American journalism, as leaky as the fleet may be, stooping to the kind of “scraping” that gets high school freshmen in trouble. This is lazy, unprofessional, and worse. It shows disrespect for Times readers, ethics and the paper’s long legacy of excellence to publish as current editorials what are really warmed-over old opinions and barely-edited words re-hashing them. The practice also shows a rigid, close-minded attitude that reeks of knee-jerk partisanship rather than thoughtful analysis. What the Times thought last month won’t change this month, no matter what new developments occur. All the better to recycle old opinions as new.

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Sources: Best of the Web

2 thoughts on “If Self-Plagiarism in Editorial Cartoons Is Bad, How About NY Times Editorials?

  1. Who care what the NY Times does, or the Washington Post? They have such a vastly reduced readership that I think half their subscribers are just other journalists, not we “regular people” who want to learn something, engage in discussion about various op-eds, and use print news to further our understanding of ANYTHING.

    Print media has always been biased, but it is totally out of proportion now, as is the broadcast media. The only thing people have to figure out is WHO they’re listening to, and what their biases are. It should be pretty easy. And if The Times can’t or won’t get any new “thinkers” on its staff, it should go under, as so many news magazines have. We’ll be stuck with “People” and the NY Post… both sources of terrific information.

    Shame on all of them. Amazing how the respected can fall in less than a generation.

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