Scott Brown’s official website contained copied material; website cannot be crawled

Bumped, because in addition to David's exquisite reporting and analysis, and the funny picture produced by Chris, this story fits so perfectly with the idea that Brown is a Poser: incompetent, unable to get anything done, controlled by an extremist ideology, and not properly elected in a normal election. - promoted by david

Check this out:

A Democratic group has unearthed a bit of inspirational autobiography on Senator Scott Brown’s official website that was lifted verbatim from a 2002 campaign speech by Elizabeth Dole.

In a message to students, the senator uses the exact language as remarks delivered by the former North Carolina senator at her campaign kickoff and contained on her own website…. “I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference,” said the message from Brown, which was removed later yesterday. “From an early age, I was taught that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself, to pursue positive change through a sense of mission, and to stand up for what I believe.”  Aside from the omission of an opening line — “I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter” — in Dole’s speech, the Bay State Republican’s language is the same throughout.

Brown’s staff has admitted that the words belong to Dole, and they claim that they appeared on Brown’s site as a result of a “staff level” technical error.  The copied words have been removed from the site.  Very, very sloppy.

I have to say, though, I’m not totally convinced by Brown spokesman John Donnelly’s explanation for what happened.  Here’s what he told the Globe:

“Senator Dole’s website served as one of the models for Senator Brown’s website when he first took office. During construction of the site, the content on this particular page was inadvertently transferred without being rewritten,” Donnelly said. “It was a staff level oversight which we regret and is being corrected.”

Hmm.  If the content really was “inadvertently transferred,” how is it that the line “I am Mary and John Hanford’s daughter” didn’t make it over?  If a whole bunch of content was accidentally brought over from Dole’s site, someone at some point must have seen the “daughter” line, and deleted it since obviously it was a mistake.  But having done so, shouldn’t that have set off alarm bells that something was wrong with the content on that page?  It’s hard to think of way in which somehow the first line of Dole’s speech was conveniently not transferred over while the rest of it was copied, all inadvertently.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to see the copied words in context, so I went to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to see if there was a capture showing the copied language in Brown’s bio.  But I discovered something quite curious: Scott Brown’s official website cannot be crawled, because it has a special file, called “robots.txt,” that disables web crawlers from accessing its pages.  So there is no publicly-available internet archive of Brown’s site. [SEE UPDATE BELOW] The only exception is made for Google’s crawler (called gsa-crawler, for “Google Search Appliance”), which is permitted to crawl the “/public” areas of the site.

Brown is not the only Senator who prohibits web crawlers, though he is in a distinct minority.  The following other Senators also have disabled web crawlers via a robots.txt file: Alexander (R-TN), Begich (D-AK), Chambliss (R-GA), Cornyn (R-TX), McConnell (R-KY), Murkowski (R-AK), Pryor (D-AR), Roberts (R-KS), Shelby (R-AL), and Warner (D-VA).  Off the top of my head, I can’t come up with any common thread that unites those Senators and that would explain why they, but not the rest of the Senators, refuse to allow web crawlers access to their websites.  Very odd.

UPDATE: The ever-alert chrismatth has found a government-run archive that shows the copied language in context.  Here’s a screenshot (click for larger):


Recommended by karenc, stomv.


11 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Ask and you shall receive...

    It’s pointless to not allow crawling, because it’s all preserved by the Federal Government’s!

    Here’s the little “technical error”

    chrismatth   @   Wed 12 Oct 10:16 PM
  2. It's always the staff's fault, or some little joke

    Scott Brown refuses to own up to any mistake on his campaign, taking responsibility for the actions of his underlings or the direction he’s taken his campaign into.

    He’s hired incompetent, mean-spirited people and instead of taking the blame for that — letting the buck stop with him — any of his camp’s mistakes are all some misunderstanding, some joke gone awry, some innocent little thing gone wrong. How long does he really expect us to continue to believe this stuff?

    Yes, his campaign is comprised of a bunch of incompetent twerps…. but he’s the freaking ring leader of them. They are a bunch of lazy bullies who aren’t even good at their jobs.

    RyansTake   @   Wed 12 Oct 10:44 PM
  3. The explanation given is better than

    “I forgot pretending other people’s words are my words. so EXCUUUUSE ME!

    But it’s not much better.

  4. Yes, Rye, you are correct.

    Brown has hired some pathetic incompetents. This is the kind of plagiarism than one expects from a seventh grader. Although I like Brown, he should try to disassociate himself from a group of people (republicans) who usually end up shooting themselves in the foot.

  5. Funny.

    What is funny about this is that Scott Brown utterly relies on his staff (think about how his staff have “meetings” with public and he does not). Lots of Senators rely on their staff, but they rely on them because they’re competent. If Brown’s staff continues to allow such amateurish mistakes, then the love he has among many in the Massachusetts public will only continue to erode. The Intern page thing is particularly troubling because that wanders toward the constituent services department and he can’t afford to take damage there.

  6. He plagiarized his values statement

    there is something very wrong with that.

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