The Bluest State: Plagiarism Pure and Simple

(A little news from 4th Middlesex. - promoted by Bob)

Whatever else it may be, Jon Keller’s  The Bluest State is a work of plagiarism.

The dictionary definitions are straightforward. “Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer’s language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own,” according to the Third Edition of The American Heritage┬« New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2005.

The list of evidence compiled by The Herald is exhaustive. Keller took numerous citations from newspaper interviews that he did not conduct, and presented them as if they were his own work.

The responses so far from Michael Flamini at St. Martin’s Press, the book’s publisher (“Jon Keller discloses to his readers, throughout his book, that he has occasionally relied on others’ reporting”) [h/t Media Nation], and Jack Williams at WBZ, the plagiarist’s employer (er, what Flamini said …), strike me as laughable in light of the evidence. Not one of those plagiarized passages explains that they are lifted. Indeed, I suspect the Globe and Herald, and perhaps the individual reporters whose work was plundered by Keller, have a fair copyright violation case against St. Martin’s should they choose to pursue it. The literary theft here is so brazen, and the failure to give proper credit so transparent, we are way outside “fair use,” or any similar principle (As an aside, it’s a pity for the Globe that they’ve had to reply on a Herald journalist to document the theft of their own work).

Kudos to Heslam and the Herald. What will the Globe, Keller, St. Martin’s Press, and WBZ do?

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97 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Can somebody explain to me... anybody expects to get away with this kind of stuff in the age of Google and LexisNexus?

  2. Help Me Out Here Please

    OK. I haven't read the book. If I understand correctly Keller repeated quotes, some very long, which the subject had stated previously and was printed in a publication.

    I believe that is the totality of the indictment against Kellar. If I am wrong then kindly correct me.

    If so, that is not "a writer duplicat[ing] another writer's language or ideas and then call[ing] the work his or her own,"

    The prior reporter or publication had no thought or idea. They/it were just a tool. Like a tape recorder. A moron could have written down what the speaker said and then put quotes around it. Isn 't that what the prior publications did. Did Kellar just neglect to publish in the book the name of the moron and the date he/it accuarately wrote down and published what the subject said? There were probably other morons writing it down at the same time.

    Are there other examples where Keller took another's language and/or ideas?

    I don't know. Did he copy the transition language used by the original writer to break up the quotes?

    Help me understand this please.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • OK!

      First, it's plagiarism, according to the dictionary, if all one does is lift a quotation by someone from a newspaper or anywhere else and present it as an interview that one did oneself. Journalists can be fired by their bosses, or students expelled by their schools, for behaving in this deceptive manner. Choosing what portion of an interview to print, for example, is a critical element of a journalist's work: they aren't just tape recorders. Lifting their quotations without attribution is literary theft. Moreover, failure to be honest about the relationship one has with a source (i.e. "I interviewed them myself," versus, "I lifted the quotation from an old newspaper article") changes the nature of the argument advanced by the work -- in this case, in the opinions of many, from "non-fiction," to, "fiction."

      Second, the suspicion, in the absence of any citations, is that there are other instances of inaccuracies, or perhaps outright fabrications, in this book. Heslam found some -- who knows how many more there are. As you suggested the other day -- I thought excellently -- it would have been easy for Keller to publish a footnote for every quotation and fact cited in the book on a web page at virtually no expense -- if he had them. The fact that he didn't, and hasn't offered to do so, or indeed defended himself in any way, suggests that he can't.

      • So You Agree...

        that all Keller did was accurately repeat what someone said without reporting where and to whom he said it.

        This confirms my original thought.

        You guys are going way out of your way and getting your panties in a spin because you just don't like Keller and hs attacks on the left.

        So you go one hundred percent attack mode on him when he speaks. You found a red herring to use to attack the credibility of his book.

        This is what zealots do. And you my friends, like the far right are zealots.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • Try to hold a logically consistent thought in your brain for more than two minutes

          For a change old chap. You asked me to help you out. I did. I carefully explained to you why this is plagiarism, why it is a kind of intellectual theft, and why it is problematic.

          You then skipped the discussion entirely and responded with absurd rant about zealotry.

          We've already explained in depth in a series of separate posts about why his book is deeply flawed as analysis. Maybe you weren't paying attention in those classes.

          People often ask us to ban you. They say you're not really interested in discussion, just in scoring cheap points. It's a pity. You can do better. You should do better.

          • Dear Bob,

            Ernie could have read any of the previous 500 posts on this topic if he cared to understand.  But trolls do not care to understand, they care to inflame.  IF you are only getting bitten for the first time by this one, I can only marvel at your immunity!

          • You Need to Read and Comprehend Better Ole Chap.

            I didn't ask for your opinion, I asked you to confirm the facts on which youi base your opinion.  That being that all Keller did was accurately quote what someone said without mentioning to whom and when the speaker said it. 

            You did confirm that for me. Thank you. But I did not ask for your opinion. I know what your opinion is.

            I can make my own judgments based on the facts. Because you confirmed the facts, I confirmed my opinion. You guys are zealots.

            And your explaining at depth just reiterated that Keller did not cite the source of the accurate quote.

            So Bob, for a change ole chap, let me see some independent thinking at BMG without one's political views being tied into personal attributes.

            The BMG view: Keller is conservative. Keller (insert conservative of your choice) attacks liberals. Therefore Keller has questionable character and when and if we ever have a chance we will destroy him

            eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
            • helping those who can't help themselves

              here is the link to evidence that Bob placed in the dairy above.  If you need help on how to click a link, do please ask. 

              • Thanks Laurel

                The documentary evidence that Keller acurately wrote what a person had said.

                You help confirm my opinion. Your only facts are that keller was accurate but did not identify where and to whom the speaker made the accuratly re-printed statement.

                keep on Keepin On Laurel

                The zealots need you.

                eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
                • no, i will stop now.

                  it is clear that you are as right in this matter as in all else.  i will from now on "six" as many of your comments as possible. 

                • Keller owes somebody a paycheck...

                  Thanks Laurel (6.00 / 1)
                  The documentary evidence that Keller acurately wrote what a person had said.

                  Which was subsequently published in somebody elses periodical and/or book...

                  You help confirm my opinion. Your only facts are that keller was accurate but did not identify where and to whom the speaker made the accuratly re-printed statement.

                  keep on Keepin On Laurel

                  The zealots need you.

                  So you don't think copyright law is all that important then? You think the mass tonnage of copyright law written in the past... oh, 150 years... is just so much wasted paper?

                  Do YOU like it when people at your work... whatever work it is you do...  take your work and pass it off as theirs? 

                  • Who gives a ___?

                    If the copy right owners wnat to go enforce their rights, they can have at it.  If they don't why should anyone else give two sh(aving cream can)s?

                    • (who gives a rats) as to that, now...

                      Who gives a ___? (0.00 / 0)
                      If the copy right owners wnat to go enforce their rights, they can have at it.  If they don't why should anyone else give two sh(aving cream can)s?

                      I care. For two reasons: A) I support and uphold the law and 2) I keep hearing variants of "it's never enforced, why should we enforce it in this instance...?" which I think is what you would ask next...

                    • Petr - le me know if you feel this way...

                      ..I care...A) I support and uphold the law and 2) I keep hearing variants of "it's never enforced, why should we enforce it in this instance...?" which I think is what you would ask next...

                      ...the next time the 1913 law about gay marriage comes up.  Are you championing enforcement of that, too?

                    • And may I add..

                      how about enforcing all those pesky immigration laws?

            • get off it

              Up until very recently, at the very least David highly respected Keller and defended him on at least two occasions when I went on the attack. I only wish they came to this realization much, much sooner. He's a hack and this is the ultimate proof.

              If you don't think what Keller did was not only dishonest, but blatant plagiarism, it's very ironic that you'd call someone like Bob a zealot. If anything, Bob is much more moderate than the typical progressive (and both of his co-editors). I don't always agree with him - and have often criticized some of his thoughts - but he's anything but a zealot and he's 100% right on this point: Keller stole other people's work without one iota of letting readers in on the secret that he, indeed, did not conduct all those interviews. Finally, I suspect we've only just started to crack this case open. Who knows what other acts of plagiarism/dishonesty this man committed in order to sell a few more books to the public? The more excuses people make on Keller's behalf, the worse they ultimately look. Keep digging.

        • sorry to hear that you support theft.

          because that is what plagerism is.  theft.  you are a pro-theft zealot. 

          • Actually, Ernie's more of a no-double-standard zealot.

            • Not really.

              Ernie is a contrarian.  He likes to take issue with anything we (or really just about anyone, though since the editors write more than others it's usually one of us) say here, regardless of whether we're right, because he likes to "knock us down a peg," regardless of whether we deserve it.  I just had occasion to look over some posts from the Beat the Press imbroglio of a few months ago.  Ernie steadfastly defended John Carroll -- even though Carroll himself apologized publicly for his screw-up in that case.

              Contrarians serve a useful function, don't get me wrong.  But let's not get carried away with Ernie's nobility of purpose!

        • Of course...

 are likely correct about the deliberateness of the attack on Keller, but that is how it works in partisan politics, isn't it?  Can you honestly state that there is any doubt about the partisan sentiment against Keller on this site?  It is undeniable, as I'm sure you are aware.

          So the question is, who is employing a red herring? You who seek to divert the allegations of plaigirism by trying to beat the partisan political drum even though the allegations are facially accurate and the stuff of which journalists actually lose their jobs?  Or the moderators of this site who are, by definition, engaged in partisan political activism?

          Seems to me the herring belongs to you.

          • a correction

            Up until maybe a little before the book came out, David (at the least) always defended Keller - even when I came out on the attack for calling him the hack that he was. I'm only glad that the editors have finally seen the light.

            • $quot;always defended Keller$quot;

              Actually, not so much.  This post is, I believe, the first one on BMG focusing in depth on Keller's work (he was mentioned before, but usually just in passing, as "the guy who's moderating the debate" or whatever).

              • words can be dangerous

                "always" may not be accurate, but we've certainly sparred in comments as to Keller's hackery before the book came out - specifically, I can remember questioning why his links would appear on the feed. I can't remember all the details, but I'm pretty sure there was at least two comments about it.

                In any event, the conception that BMG has been "anti-Keller" for a long time is completely mistaken. That was my chief point.

                • Fair enough.

                  As for the feed, he's still in there, and he'll remain.  He's still got a much bigger audience than any local blogger does, and therefore it behooves us to pay attention to what he says.

        • $quot;all Keller did was accurately repeat what someone said without reporting where and to whom he said it$quot;

          Right, Ernie. That's called plagiarism.

          For the sake of redundancy, here's what Harvard University has to say on the matter:

          All homework assignments, projects, lab reports, papers and examinations submitted to a course are expected to be the student's own work. Students should always take great care to distinguish their own ideas and knowledge from information derived from sources. The term "sources" includes not only published primary and secondary material, but also information and opinions gained directly from other people.

          The responsibility for learning the proper forms of citation lies with the individual student. Quotations must be placed properly within quotation marks and must be cited fully. In addition, all paraphrased material must be acknowledged completely. Whenever ideas or facts are derived from a student's reading and research or from a student's own writings, the sources must be indicated....

          Students who, for whatever reason, submit work either not their own or without clear attribution to its sources will be subject to disciplinary action, and ordinarily required to withdraw from the College.

  3. Bob, You Sound Like ....

    those a-holes who work internal security for large companies and accuse emplyees of "stealing time" when they slack off.

    They call those workers thieves. Intimidate them.

    Just like you guys are trying to do to Keller.

    But we all know those internal security guys are big time losers.

    Carry on :)

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • I am seriously amused that you and your brethren...

      ...are unable to address the point.

      The point in a book such as Keller's is not that he has plagiarized other peoples' works.  The point is that he, by failing to cite to source, has made it virtually impossible to assess the veracity of his work.

      • Who Gives a Crap

        None of the prinicipals, who would know, are saying there are any mistruths in there.

        Besides Keller has indicated he is more than happy to provide it.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • $quot;Keller has indicated$quot;


        • Remind me again, just how tinny is your ear?

          None of the prinicipals, who would know, are saying there are any mistruths in there.

          I seriously don't care whether what the proprietors say here regarding whether there are any incorrect assertions  in the book.  (Sorry, guys, but it's true).  It has nothing to do with them, and it has nothing to do with whether or not any of Kellers assertions are correct.  Apparently your tin ear (or should I say "eye") is unable to understand that.

          The objection, which you obviously wish to ignore or divert the discussion from, is that Keller has made it virtually impossible to assess the credibility of his assertions.  I will let you know that, when I was posting on right-leaning web sites, when I went back to the original sources, more often than not given the context the assertions were obviously incorrect.  (It also happened on left-leaning web sites, too--they are not immune from the problem, either).

          I sincerely don't care whether Besides Keller has indicated he is more than happy to provide it.  I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and presume that "it" refers to citations to source.  If that's true, why hasn't he done so?  He should have done that in the print edition, so that all purchasers of the book would have access to the "it."  If he's going to do it over the Internet, irrespective of the fact that he's had the opportunity to do it, but not everyone has access to the Internet.  And, even if the purchasers of the book do have access to the Internet, it is totally unclear that they know the URL to access the "it."

          You really should give it up.  Quit digging--you haven't yet found a pony, and you certainly won't find one.

    • $quot;you guys$quot;

      It wasn't us who broke the story on this.  It was Jessica Heslam at the Herald, and it was likewise Heslam who collected quotes from journalism professors explaining why what Keller did is a problem.  Following on Heslam's work, we've shown that what Keller did is not common in the publishing industry, despite some claims to the contrary.

      I don't see why you should have a problem with that.

  4. Keller is guilty of multiple counts of misdemeanor plagiarism.

    He certainly lifted quotes from newspapers without citing them.  And it is true that if a college student did that, they'd at least get an F on the paper and, depending on how stuck up the prof was, maybe worse.  (A high school student doing this would maybe get a pass and told to quickly learn how to cite sources and ideas.) 

    Given the volume of lifted quotes in this book, a newspaper reporter would get fired for this work (as Bob suggested).  If a reporter lifted one or two quotes and used it in a story, no doubt they'd be suspended..

    But lifting direct quotes and not citing them is "only" sloppy and lazy and that's why I used the "misdemeanor" label.  It is the more disturbing aspects of plagiarism-stealing ideas, concepts or arguments and passing them off as your own that are the real "felony" deeds and so far, no one has made that charge against Keller. 

    While I haven't read the book, I've read David's critique, read the praise over at RMG and listened to Keller in an extended interview on WTTK.  Ironically Keller's main thesis is completely unoriginal-liberals are to be blamed for all things bad in society-that one could suggest that he stole that idea.  But much like brand names like "Kleenex" or "Refrigerator" have lost there unique identity, this unoriginal thesis Keller pedals, by cutting and pasting newspaper clips, has lost its originality and is relegated to a talking point (and a stale point at that).

    Even before this book, I thought Keller was a hack-journalist.  With his book, I figured he was looking to make some cash by retelling crapped spewed in the past by Coulter, Rush, O'Reilly and Hannity (to name just a few), but with a local spin.  Now I find that he's a LAZY, SLOPPY, unoriginal hack-journalist.  Given all this, we should not have been surprised that he saw no need to inform his viewers that his son was a key player in an ongoing story that he was covering.

    Like Mike Barnacle before him, it is time that Keller gets what he deserves, and that is the boot.

  5. The crimes of John Keller (not)

    I think my politics are pretty much in line with most of the people here, but I have to say I agree with Ernie on this one.

    If this is plagarism, then William Shakespeare, who lifted pretty much all of his stories from other sources, was a plagariast. And please, don't say I'm making a qualitative comparison between Shakespeare and John Keller.

    Quotes aren't ideas or original writing. Are we arguing that every time someone repeats what someone else said it's plagariasm? The writer doesn't own the quotes, and looking at the list provided by the Herald, most of the quotes are attributed. Though I noticed an interesting number of ellipsis. Is attribution provided elsewhere on the page? There's no evidence that Keller stole his ideas from anyone. It's pretty clear the the thesis of the book is his own.

    Which leads to the next problem. When it comes to "The Bluest State" it's hard to find an unbiased observer here. It's pretty obvious most people here don't like what Keller has to say. If his book was full of praise for Massachusetts liberalism, would we still be having this discussion or would people be attacking the Boston Herald for going after him? Really, everyone needs to take a step back here.

    Frankly, it's sad that at a newspaper with the limited resources of the Boston Herald, the best use of a reporter's time is to pour over a book in order to play gotcha. Really, there's nothing more important going on?

    • I'm an unbiased observer here Argyle

      "When it comes to "The Bluest State" it's hard to find an unbiased observer here."

      Really, I am

      eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • LOL!!

      • Are you going into stand-up comedy next?

        That's the funniest thing I've read on BMG in a long time.

        • O. K. But Can't You Agree...

          that i am not biased towards conservatism and against liberalism. I am in favor of arguing against some of the positions BMG people like. It's a hobby. But that does not make me a conservative. I am not alligned with most of Kellars politics. I'm much more Democrat.

          But I guess I am a conservative nut job because I don't believe Kellar plagarized.

          eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
          • Its been my impression...

            ... that you seem biased toward playing devil's advocate.  A very useful thing IMHO.  Unfortunately to do so on a liberal blog would have one often defending conservative ideas and therefore seem conservative, however incorrect. 

            I'm not sure this is here nor there in this discussion because I can't find anywhere where someone outs you as a 'conservative nut job'.  More to the point your arguments on plagiarism haven't been conservative arguments, the book in question just happens to be anti-liberal.  Certainly anyone ascribing conservative motivations can't show evidence in the discussion thus far, unless someone were able to show that you had a differing opinion when the book in question was liberal and I don't know of any evidence out there for that either.

    • What do you call a boomerang that doesn't return when thrown...

      A stick.

      Which leads to the next problem. When it comes to "The Bluest State" it's hard to find an unbiased observer here. It's pretty obvious most people here don't like what Keller has to say. If his book was full of praise for Massachusetts liberalism, would we still be having this discussion or would people be attacking the Boston Herald for going after him? Really, everyone needs to take a step back here.

      I dunno. I usually like what Doris Kearns Goodwin has to say. But I reacted with disgust and disappointment when she found herself in a situation similar to that of Keller. She settled out of court. In fact, the liberal mindset, apposite to that of the conservative, often reacts more strongly to betrayal from co-religionists than to defiance from foes.  The conservative, on the other hand, often never admits that betrayal has occured. If they would have done so, George Bush and Dick Cheney would be sitting in the Hague now, awaiting trial...

      But I'd like to address the issue you raise when you state "it's hard to find an unbiased observer [at BMG]".  I think that, here at BMG, it is surpassingly easy to find someone with whom you disagree, often radically so.  Ok. Is that 'bias'?  I suppose you think what I've written above is 'biased', simply because it takes one side over the other.  What a recondite formulation that is...  You're using the ends to understand the means, when, in fact, bias is a means of imposing an end at the beginning and disregarding what happens in between. 

      It is what it is.  Bias happens when somebody tries to tell you it is what it isn't.

    • Shakespeare and our own personal definitions of plagiarism is irrelevant

      What is relevant is applying the current accepted standard and definition of plagiarism, right or wrong, to Keller's work.

      "The Bluest State" fits the parameters of plagiarism. Whether that standard is incorrect or the actions of St. Martin's Press is industry standard is a different debate.

      • I take your meaning...

        ... and I'm no fan of Keller's, but for the sake of intellectual honesty I must ask:  Is the standard for Harvard Homework (from your link) really the accepted standard for the publishing industry or is it the standard we'd like to see?

        • After all, what do Yale and MacKenzie Middle School have as plagarism standards?

        • It's the same standard for all Universities...

          ...and if I were to submit something to be published in an academic journal, I would be held to the same standard. Also, as discussed by one Columbia prof linked elsewhere, there is a convention of adding in bits such as "as quoted in The Boston Globe" or "as reported by Mr. Lynne" which Keller did not employ.

          Keller's book took someone else's work and failed to attribute it. Multiple times. You can't do that.

          • But Tblad - this isn't an academic journal, or even an academic press.

            And for people who go on and on abou 'fair use' when quoting and linking on blogs, this discussion seems a little hyperbolic.

            • But no attribution, Peter?

              Instances of none whatsoever?

              • Absolutely this is a problem...

                ... but holding him to a standard that nobody else is does no service to the argument.  Of course he shouldn't have done it and of course there should be a standard he is held to, but lets be honest about what that standard is or should be.  To do otherwise is distracting.

            • Quite Frankly

              I'm very worried for this country when people like you, PP, argue in favor of plagiarism...

              It isn't acceptable. Ever.

              Now, I'm not saying Keller needed to prescribe to the onerous standards of academia, but a set of 10-15 pages of endnotes at the conclusion of the book and quick attributions whenever directly quoting work (such as "According to so-and-so from the Boston Globe, this person said...") is an easy standard to uphold.

              Keller failed in this endeavor, pure and simple, and all future copies of the book ought to include at the very least endnotes... I almost think the books still on the shelves should be removed, as is also customary in the publishing world when an author is discovered to have blatantly ripped work off of other people.

  6. Since no one has offered an answer to the question

    "What will the Globe, Keller, St. Martin's Press, and WBZ do?"

    Nothing at all.

    This has been Simple Answers to Simple Questions.  (h/t Atrios)

  7. Well worth checking out

    David Bernstein has written a pretty interesting analysis of the sourcing and lack thereof in Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Z├║niga's "Crashing the Gate." Highly recommended.

    • Uh, ok...

      I read Bernstein's piece, and went back to look over "Crashing the Gate" (which is not one of the numerous examples I've cited).  It hardly supports the notion that what Jon Keller did in his book is customary or "rampant" in the book industry.  To the contrary, as Bernstein notes, pretty much every direct quote in CtG is sourced, either via an endnote or directly in the text, and CtG sources other factual material as well (e.g., n.41 on p. 91 (in my hardback edition, which seems to be a couple of pages off from Bernstein's), which cites a WaPo article as the source of some polling data).

      Furthermore, CtG appears to contain a lot more original research than, say, Keller's book.  From the preface:

      In May 2005 we began traveling all over the country to interview political insiders and outsiders -- journalists, politicians, consultants, historians, authors, and activists.  We traveled to over twenty states and interviewed over 150 people.

      So, is CtG "thinly sourced," as Bernstein says?  Maybe -- it has only four pages of endnotes, compared to the dozens that appear more typical for books of this kind, and Bernstein's example of the Ryan Lizza article shows that the authors sometimes assert facts without telling you where they got them.  Maybe they should have footnoted the sentence cited by Bernstein (although, as Bernstein acknowledges, that very article does appear in the endnotes from a couple of pages earlier and is repeatedly referenced in the text surrounding Bernstein's example).  But that certainly doesn't show that Keller's practice of routinely taking material verbatim from newspaper articles without attribution is commonplace.

      Plus, those guys are just bloggers.  They're not "journalists," right?  ;-)

      • Two points

        1. What has been lost in this is that Keller often does cite his sources -- in fact, he cites them more often than he doesn't. And he's got a lot of his own interviews in there.

        2. I know you know better, but you realize I'm not someone who deserves the "They not 'journalists,' right?" quip.

        • re #2,

          yes, I do.  It wasn't directed specifically at you -- couldn't resist throwing it in there, in case Phil Balboni is reading this thread.  :-D

        • I don't think...

          ... the quip was directed at you.  Dave has been quipping about it a lot lately.  Presumably because every time he does some work to find something out in order to post and comment on it, it is grating to know that there are those who value his work less because although he 'does' journalism, he isn't 'in' journalism in the vocational sense.

        • Re #1, Dan....

          I made this comment on yet another Bluest State thread (really, it's a PITY that none of them will buy or read the book - Keller would be a millionaire!).

          • ... and I responded to it there.

            • ...and I included that comment here, as both were germane to Dan's observation.

              What, I can't link now either?

              Hey!  I HAVE read the book!  Anybody else in the pig pile, besides David and Charley?

              • Me too

                By the way, if Keller becomes a millionaire I think that would be great.

                • I also exempt Ryan.

                  I promised to send him my copy when I read it, but will now have to obtain another as I want to keep the 'controversial' printing.

                  Ryan - Keller is the guest speaker at CLT's annual meeting, and I'll get you a copy there!

          • I gotta tell ya, PP

            it's a PITY that none of them will buy or read the book - Keller would be a millionaire!

            If the hold list at my local library is any indication, this is a very popular book!

        • weeelll......

          2. I know you know better, but you realize I'm not someone who deserves the "They not 'journalists,' right?" quip.

          But that is contextual, is it not?  Keller gets paid to be a 'journalist' and Armstrong and Zuniga are 'bloggers'. Now I expect 'journalists' to take more care with sources and I expect 'bloggers' to be sloppy on their first efforts.  That's how I, in part, approach their work.  Honestly, Armstrong and Zuniga both rose to prominence on the strength of what they have to say AND what they think matters. Few people, initially, said yeah or nay.  I take that into account when reading what they write.  Not the same with Keller. Keller is paid, and evaluated, based on a different mechanism of feedback and reward.  Not only does he think he has something to say, but somebody else does too... Enough so that they put him in the newspaper and on TV and all but proclaim "this mans opinion is more valuable than others".

          Both examples of poor sourcing may be due to simple incompetence or may be more insidious. I'm far more willing to give Armstrong and Zuniga a stern talking-to accompanied by a 'I hope you learned your lesson, boys' wag-o-the-finger than I am to let Keller off the hook. And I'm far more likely to think Armstrong and Zuniga are riding a bumpy learning curve whereas I'm inclined to think Keller isn't forthright, because I know he knows better.  Keller doesn't get that pass from me, because he's a highly paid tout who's opinion is said to be of value.  Nobody says that about Armstrong and Zuniga ('cept maybe Armstrong and Zuniga...) 

          • Petr - but both have entered a different and unfamiliar atmosphere...

            ...that of book publishing.

            Bloggers...well, we know what blogging is like and what is considered proper.  Being able to link directly to a source or citation, without interrupting the flow of a sentence is a HUGE advantage.

            A journalist, regardless of medium, is used to having an editor tell them what and when to cite.  Sometimes columnists send back-up material along with an op-ed, to show where they got the quote/statistic/idea, and write about it without ever having it directly appear in their limited print space, be it 10 inches or 25.

            The journalist and the blogger are in a different medium when they write a book.  IMHO, a long term journalist - very used to throwing concepts, arguments, and sentences overboard to fit column inches or broadcast time - would be especially susceptible to an affirmation by an editor that due to space constraints, end notes or foot notes aren't viable.  A blogger, used to infinite space might be less so.

            But both would be at a disadvantage in an unfamiliar atmosphere, and likely to accept an assertion that something is or is not done.

            Disclaimer - I have no inside knowledge of what happened in Keller's case.

            • $quot;what one is used to$quot;...

              ... is probably not a useful method of judging the rightness or wrongness of what happened. 

              • Mr. Lynne - in hindsight, perhaps not. But I would contend that the 'When in Rome' factor is a real one for a person writing their first book.

                As I said before - wait'll MY book comes out!  It'll be PERFECT!! :~)

    • 77

      is the number of direct sources CTG uses and publishes at the end of their work.

      Dan, seriously, the fact that you can't admit Keller made a mistake here is a serious indictment against your ability to be considered such an expert on journalistic integrity. Apparently, when it comes to defending your friends, the importance of journalism and its ethics takes a major back seat.

  8. From what I can detect / reason...

    ... the core disagreements appear to be twofold:

    1) Some maintain that while quotes were lifted without citation, there was no attempt at passing off the work as original and without such an attempt it can't be plagiarism per se.  I think this is the thrust of EB3's point.

    2) Disagreement as to the frequency and appropriateness of lax or non-existent citation.

    • There is also some debate

      As to whether Keller's sloppiness and plagiarism is standard practice for books of this kind.

    • Thank You Mr. Lynne

      I don't know why people say you are a bad guy.

      eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • It should be said, as well...

        ... that the failure to recognize the underlying premise of point number one is the reason people are talking past each-other.  As soon as it can be shown that he lifted quotes without attribution plagiarism has been proved by one definition and not proved by the other.  So when people claim to have given you all the evidence you should need and are frustrated that you haven't conceded the point, the reason isn't because they are obstinate, the reason is because they don't understand or you haven't been clear about your underlying assumptions about what defines plagiarism. 

        It reminds me of abortion debates where both sides fail to understand that they do not disagree about the murder of innocent life and end up just shouting at each other rather than understand that their unstated true disagreement is about when life begins.

        • I completely disagree

          It is very easy to think all the quotes in the book are ones he got himself.

          It's plagiarism, pure and simple. I wouldn't do what Keller did on my blog, never mind an entire book published for the general audience.

          • I don't know what the 4...

            ... was for.  I wonder if you and Bob (below) are missing my point.  I haven't come down one way or another on the plagiarism issue.  To read into my comments that I have is to mis-read them.  What I have done here is try to isolate the core of the dispute.  Without specifics (I have not read the book) I can't verify your claim that it is "very easy to think all the quotes in the book are ones he got himself."  But that is the essence here.  That the work is or appears to be passed off as his own crystallizes the issue for you.  The fact that it doesn't appear to be the case for others crystallizes it for them because even the appearance of false self-attribution isn't sufficient enough to qualify for plagiarism in their definition. 

            • An observation...

              What I have done here is try to isolate the core of the dispute.  Without specifics (I have not read the book) I can't verify your claim that it is "very easy to think all the quotes in the book are ones he got himself."

              That is actually very easily handled.  The citation is to "personal communication."  I've seen this done many times in papers in the sciences.

              Maybe the sciences overdo citations to some extent.  But the complete lack of citations in a book supposedly of fact is unforegivable.

              • It would be if it WERE entirely devoid of citation. Read the book!

                • If Keller were to give me a copy of his book...

                  ...I might skim through it.  Otherwise, no.

                  If you were to provide a specific citation in the book, along with a couple of paragraphs above and below,  I'll sit up and listen.  Tell me this: if you are defending Keller, why haven't you done so?

                  • Why should I pander to your laziness with my typing skills?

                    • Ms. Porc. unfortunately you seem to be unaware of the fact that...

                      ...I have made it fairly clear that I am not going to spend money to buy Keller's book.  I had believed that I had made that clear. 

                      If he wants to send me gratis a review copy, I might skim through it regarding the citation issue, but that's about it.  I sincerely don't care about the substance that the gasbags that pass for TV commentators have to say about much of anything.

            • there are plenty

              examples of what he did online. just check out the herald's work on it. without ever mentioning the newspaper articles the quotes come from, many readers won't even question whether or not he did all the leg work to get them. They're just quotes he throws in there, often snarky and fit right in with what he's saying.

          • The very definition of faith

            It is very easy to think all the quotes in the book are ones he got himself.

            Just to clarify, you've stated you haven't read the book, yet, it's easy to believe (I BELIEVE!)?

            • I've read it.

              It's quite easy to think that most, if not all, of the unidentified quotes were collected by Keller.  He can't get out of this just by saying "the reader should have realized."  That's not fair and not reasonable.

              Weeks ago I publicly wondered why so many anonymous quotes appear in the book.  I assumed that Keller knew who the person was, but chose not to tell us.  But the reason, in at least some cases, now appears to be that Keller was taking material from a newspaper story that didn't identify its sources.  So even Keller doesn't know who was speaking.

              • All well and good

                Your opinion, noted.  Assuming my comment was addressing your post.  It wasn't; I was referring to a Disciple's comment.

        • One problem is that the dictionary

          Isn't good enough for EBIII. That's why it is so funny that he claims not to be biased on this issue. Maybe he's relying on a definition of plagiarism based on personal revelation.

          • Bob, Based on My Life Experiences I Am Very Comfortable...

            judging for myself whether  Keller did something morally, ethically, and/or professionally wrong.

            ('I doesn't nede sum uppity reedin ting about woids two tels me dat Kelah is bad guy.') You shouldn't either. (a jury wouldn't buy that counselor)

            Plagiarism implies that something nefarious occurred. You imply something nefarious occurred.

            I do not see anything ethically, morally, or professionally wrong with what he did.

            At best he got a parking ticket when he ran into the store. You want him charged with murder.

            Get over it. You guys are wrong. IMHO


            eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
            • Sorry, but...

              ... 'EB3's life experiences' is not a useful standard to judge Keller on either for purposes of discussion here.  That is as relativistic a standard as one could think of, don't you think?

              You do, however point out something interesting concerning opinions on the definition of plagiarism that hadn't occured to me earlier.  Is malice a necessary condition for plagiarism?  Can one plagiarize by mistake?  I think it is pretty clear that malice should certainly be considered when judging the magnitude and remediation of an instance of alleged plagiarism, but I also think its pretty clear that, even non-malicious plagiarism by mistake (if it is plagiarism - again a question of definition) is at least a mark against in academia. 

              I think it should also be noted that, whatever one's definition of plagiarism is, by publishing a book that purports to have a thesis (about Massachusetts liberalism) using the works of others but is very poorly cited at a minimum, it is clear the Keller has stepped in it.

              • No Mr. Lynne

                This has become an ethical question. Ethics come from inside based on observations and experiences. That is why people say a "sense of ethics". "He has a sense of ethics."

                I don't know what you use to judge ethical standards. I hope it is not what the far left tells you it is. Because that is what is happeneing here.

                eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
                • If you consider...

                  ... the question of plagiarism to be one of ethics then it should be obvious that since others disagree about the ethics of what happened here that you and they are working from different play-books.  As such, the conversation isn't getting anywhere because the terms have not been agreed to. 

                  'That is why people say a "sense of ethics". "He has a sense of ethics."'

                  This is kind of meaningless.  Everyone has a 'sense of ethics'.

                  By claiming that 'what is happening here' is that 'the far left' is 'telling' people on this plagiarism issue, you are committing the same error that I pointed out above.  The arguments presented haven't been 'left' arguments any more than your arguments have been 'right' argument.s

            • Okay

              Since you think what he did was perfectly fine, let's leave the poor guy alone. I mean, EB3 is such an expert on standards of pliagarism!

              /sarcasm off

              No one is calling for serious consequences here. I think we'd all be satisfied with an online version of endnotes for the first editions, as well as any future prints including endnotes. Plus, an "oops, sorry" apology. That would be more than enough to appease me.

  9. The BMG Standard

    Well, I bothered to look through my bookshelves and the various non-fictions I own:

    -P.J. O'Rourke's, Eat the Rich.  No endnotes.

    -Beautiful Cigar Girl.  Unsolved murder in US history. Daniel Stashower wrote historically of it with many quotes.  No endnotes.

    -Urban History as Public History: A Case Study from Milwaukee.  No endnotes.  Thomas J. Jablonsky

    -Andrew Swift, All Roads Lead to France: Bath and the Great War.  A 2005 publications.  No endnotes.

    -Greenhouse: The two hundred year Story of Global Warming. By Gale E. Christianson. No endnotes. Published 2000.

    -Crimes of the Century:  From Leopold and Loeb to O.J. Simpson. By Gilbert Geis and Leigh B. Bienen.  1998 No endnotes.

    -The British Imperial Century, 1815-1914: A World History Perspective. Published 2000. James Greenlee.  No endnotes. The God Delusion.  Richard Dawkins.  No endnotes.

    If size matters, then my list is shorter than one posted elsewhere of books WITH endnotes, but of course, my sample is limited and not necessarily representative.  Yours (the royal you) too.

    However, based on my very limited sampling from my very limited bookshelf, it appears that many non-fiction books have endnotes, many do not.

    It also appears that in absence of endnotes, some readers grumble.  Not to the extent of declaring the author a plagerist, but YMMV.

    By your standard, those that do not, are authored by plagerists.  For example, from P.J. O'Rourke's Eat the Rich,

    A Scandinavian economist once proudly said to free-market advocate Milton Friedman, "In Scandinavia  we have no poverty." And Milton Friedman replied, "That's interesting, because in America among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either."

    What am I to think?! P.J. O'Rourke plagerized, or that he overheard two economists chatting?

    I think we know this.  Keller doesn't in his book--even slyly--represent that he is the source of all those decades of quotes in the Bluest State.  We know he isn't, and, so do you. 

    • P.S.

      "It takes a Village to Raise a Child".  I don't own it; I did read it.  I recall, but can't confirm my recollection, no endnotes.

      Assuming as much, can you in good conscience support a plagerist for President?

    • You seem to be...

      ... operating under the false premise that lack of end notes is sufficient for a charge of plagiarism for BMG.  That is not the case.

    • Here's Some Others

      Orr on Ice - The Bobby Orr Story

      The Brothers Espo

      High Stick - The Teddy Green Story

      Somebody Up There Likes Me  Rocky Marciano

      Wade Boggs by Wade  Boggs

      Teddy Bruschi's latest tome.

      eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
      • we're not talking memoirs

        Robert Reich has no notes either in "Locked in the Cabinet".  But that's because he's his own source.  The same can be said for most if not all of your examples.

        Carl Bernstein's "Plan of Attack" is a good example of a history/opinion book with no notes of any kind.  He gives an acknowledgment to various staff of the Washington Post, but that's it.

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