Thanks to those of you who wished me well on my first anniversary, and to those who didn’t. Um, hum. Well, in a “what was happening when” frame of mind, here’s what filled a heck of a lot more news time than, say, how many Iraqi civilians were being killed this week a year ago.
From May 15, 2006
You could be forgiven for getting it wrong. I certainly did. Some of us thought that the self evident crisis in journalism today were the cumulative repeated, uncorrected errors in fact, the inventions of quotations, the verbatim stenography and similar violations of the ever adjustable Code of Journalistic Ethics -- "Gore claims to invent internet, " being the poster example. We assumed that the overrarching crisis was that the corporate consolidation of the media had rendered our journalism a tawdry pose fit only to fill up spaces on the cable band so the best in rerun sit-coms could go premium. But we were wrong.
The great crisis facing this foundation of democracy, itself, is that someone has been at the cooky jar, someone's been stealing their snickerdoodles. The great flood of plagiarism is the real danger that faces the nation, with front page stories and network news segments presenting in in-depth report on the rolling crime wave. A rather flashy and enterprising Harvard co-ed (having read some of 'her' words I think she has earned the title) has borrowed from an even more eminent auteur of her genre. An executive at Raytheon has taken time off from producing engines of mass death to pilfer the wisdom of one of the ancients of his tribe. And now, we are told that a nameless intra-network jegg has broken into the word hoarde of the fictitious President Bartlett of "The West Wing" applying the stolen phrases to the real life news story of an heroic horse trainer. This may be the first instance in history of words written for a fictitious president to say, we assume written by fictitious ghost writers, being applied to what passes as news on our major networks. Though that might be too much to hope at this stage of our politics.
Given that the typical West Wing script is full of references to numerous works other than the script writers' the big deal on this one escapes some of us. A point made online before it was also made on a certain Boston TV program the other night.
Understand this, though. The press has seen enough. It will act.
So while the Cheney and Bush crime syndicates steal everything in sight, waging wars of conquest abroad, stealing elections and the U.S. Treasury here. As they hand out patronage money and the public schools to any hallelujah peddler with an R after their name. As they dismantle the national parks and turn them into franchise operations for extraction industries we can rest easy. Even as the free press watches the Republican Party donate the internet to the telecom industry, the media can be counted on to provide protection. For their words. Their intellectual property at so-many-cents apiece, down to the most putrid swill issuing from the conservative nepotism newslets, will be made safe from those who would borrow them without attribution and compensation.
Note: Officially, Al Gore pointing out, correctly, that he had a hand in founding the internet is over the top, the Republicans stealing it for their campaign contributors is just swell. Just for those who like to keep track of current ethics. Also note: Since on one gets killed, no one loses their pension and no wildlife habitat is destroyed in the act, plagiarism is a moderately naughty thing to do and at times actionable. This piece is not an invitation to commit crimes or violate the rights of authors to just compensation for their work. Since a "journalist" may read this I should point out that it is an invitation to the press to do their jobs.
Note from 2007. How many of you can remember the name of the Harvard student who got nabbed for plagiarism? I had to look it up and I wrote the thing.