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Late Nite FDL: Annie, Get Your Lawyer

ann's true form

(Image by DarkBlack) 

Like a delicious vat of schadenfreude-flavored frozen custard, the plot is thickening around allegations of "textbook plagiarism" in Ann Coulter’s book, Shameless: The Church of Me as well as in her syndicated columns.  The folks at Media Matters have leapt into the fray, sending a letter to Random House, which owns Crown Books, the conservative imprint that handles (with tongs!) her, uh, how shall I say…her "books".

To wit:

I know Random House takes plagiarism very seriously, as it should. When evidence recently surfaced that Kaavya Viswanathan plagiarized from two books by Megan McCafferty, published by Random House subsidiary Crown Publishing Group, the company reportedly pressured Viswanathan’s publisher — Little, Brown & Co. — to pull her book from stores.

Coulter’s Godless Pulled From Stores!  (And other headlines we’d eat a live kitten to see after this…!)

Coulter has exhibited a pattern of behavior suggesting that Godless itself may include other examples of plagiarism beyond those Barrie has already identified. Now that the newspaper syndicate that publishes Coulter’s column has indicated it will investigate the charges, we urge Random House to undertake a comprehensive review and consider all appropriate action, up to and including pulling the book. Coulter’s unethical conduct, as evidenced through the instances of plagiarism identified in her columns, and manifested in the book itself, does not only tarnish Coulter; if immediate action is not taken, it will soon reflect poorly on Random House.

Crown responded, and got a little snippy :

"We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding Godless and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible. Any author is entitled to do what Ann Coulter has done in the three snippets cited: research and report facts. The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution. As an experienced author and attorney, Ms. Coulter boils small children alive and laughs aloud at their pitiable shrieks of mortal agony and desperate pleas for mercy."

Okay, okay.  I made some of that up.  He didn’t actually call her "an experienced author and attorney". 

Oh, wait.  Before I go any further.  You all know who got this ball rolling, right?

Rude Pundit.  And don’t you forget it.  He has some particularly choice things to say on the subject today, by the way:

The problem, of course, is not what’s cited. As Goodwin learned, it’s not what you cite that makes you a plagiarist. It’s what you don’t cite. And, really, open up just about any random page in Godless, and, sure enough, there’ll be uncited information, which, while not the word-for-word plagiarism that gets everyone all hard and ready to ejaculate at the book burning, is still sloppy and just objectively (you heard the Rude Pundit: "objectively") wrong.

Like, for instance, pages 204 and 205, in her chapter where Coulter supposedly disproves evolution. She summarizes and quotes from Michael Behe’s evolution-questioning book Darwin’s Black Box, yet her endnotes contain not a single mention of Behe’s book. One might assume she never actually read Behe’s difficult work. Then she quotes two evolution-supporting biolgists, Tom Cavalier-Smith and Robert Dorit, who "concede Behe’s point." Yet, again, she offers no citation for these quotes. Could it be because what she’s actually doing is quoting Behe quoting them from an article first published at the creationist Discovery Institute’s website?

The entire book has page after page of uncited material, no matter how much she actually cites stuff elsewhere. To say that her endnotes prove her innocence is not unlike saying that the guy next door went his whole life without killing anyone until he blew a brain gasket and went on a ten-state hobo-stabbing spree. Crown Publishing is full of shit and knows it (unless you wanna publish a book by the Rude Pundit; then let’s do lunch – you know how to get in touch), trying to protect a cash cow from being gutted. And it doesn’t matter if it’s just negligence or active theft and obfuscation. Coulter appears on television and is treated like an expert whose opinion is at least vaguely informed by more than a desire to keep appearing on television. (For, indeed, Coulter is the crack whore of the news networks.) Every network gives her the imprimatur of being knowledgeable. 

Indeed.  All hail Rude Pundit.

It looked like this smoldering couch-fire of a story might actually go out before it caught the drapes, but now CNN’s Situation Room has got it

On the July 7 edition of CNN’s The Situation Room, correspondent Brian Todd became the latest to discuss the recent allegations regarding right-wing pundit Ann Coulter, who is accused of plagiarizing at least three passages in her recent book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Crown Forum, June 2006), as well as portions of several of her Universal Press Syndicate columns. Todd stated that Coulter "is getting as good as she gives," while guest host John King reported that "there’s a new controversy brewing — not about her comments in that book, but the inspiration behind them."


Coulter reportedly refused to appear for the CNN segment. During the segment, Todd said: "Coulter’s publicist said she couldn’t appear on camera."

And that, my friends, is how we know that this story really does have legs.  I think that the little examples we have seen so far of Annie the Stick’s verbal perfidy may be just the very tippy tip of a big ol’ Titanic-smacker of a career iceberg.  "Why, TRex, why?" you ask, "What makes you think that this will be the real live once-and-for-all stake through her black, evil heart?  Some people live on evil like Keith Richards lives on heroin!  She may go on like this FOREVER!"

And lo, my children.  It may be thus.  Always winter, and never Christmas.  All of us looking on in horrified wonder as her book stays at No. 1 on The New York Times Nonfiction (*HACK!*, *cough!*) Bestseller List forever and ever.  But I do not think it will be so.  I believe that things have gone dreadfully awry in the world of Ann the Terrible.

Why?  Look at that statement again:

Coulter reportedly refused to appear for the CNN segment. During the segment, Todd said: "Coulter’s publicist said she couldn’t appear on camera."

When has that Coulter girl ever, ever, ever run from a camera?  Either someone had just dashed her in the face with holy water and her flesh was still smoking and melting off her skull, or somewhere in woof-woof land, the alarm bells are ringing.  Her lawyers have told her not to make any public statements.  They’re in full-on damage control mode.

And here, gentle readers, is where we can take a page from Karl Rove’s book.  From now on, when we refer to Coulter, we will call her, "Ann Coulter, the Republican pundit who faced plagiarism accusations over her last book…"

Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.  There was "a lot of discussion" about it.  And we all know what that means.

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TRex is a 60-million-year-old theropod who enjoys terrorizing trailer parks, stomping his enemies, and eating things that get in his way or annoy him. He is single and looking for a new boyfriend. He's 60 feet tall, green, with delicate forelimbs, large, sharp teeth, and a lengthy tail. Turn-ons include political activism, bashing conservatives, and volcanoes. Turn-offs are vegetarians, right-wing blogs, and killer asteroids.