Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) thinks the media doth protest too much, and if he were a journalism professor he would flunk the media for reporting on several instances of apparent plagiarism found in speeches and text by the Kentucky Republican. A journalism professor at Baylor University, Paul’s alma mater, didn’t quite see it that way.
“Having now read both the provided texts of the speeches and columns of Sen. Paul in question, as well as the original materials, I believe that Sen. Paul’s comment ‘if I were their journalism teacher in college, I would fail them’ is inappropriate and misguided,” Robert Darden, associate professor at Baylor University’s Journalism, Public Relations and New Media school in Texas, told TPM.
Paul’s stance on the subject has shifted with each revelation, first reported by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and BuzzFeed. The senator initially struck a defiant tone, wishing he could duel with the “hacks and haters” calling him out for plagiarism. He later admitted that his staff, under a heavy workload, could have been more careful, and that “ultimately,” it was his “fault.” But on Wednesday, Paul lashed out at his critics once more.
“I’m being criticized for not having proper attribution, and yet they are able to write stuff that if I were their journalism teacher in college, I would fail them,” Paul told National Review‘s Robert Costa.
Darden was not moved by that assessment.
“It appears that the Senator from Kentucky is choosing to attack the messenger rather than specifically address what appears to be an unambiguous case of plagiarism,” he said in an email. “Had one of my Journalism students made the same mistakes, I would fail them for each individual assignment and refer the case to the appropriate university office that deals with honor code violations.”
The Washington Times and Paul on Tuesday “mutually” agreed to end his weekly column after he failed to properly cite material and appeared to lift entire sentences from an article written by The Week’s Dan Stewart.
Stewart wrote Wednesday that he felt “flattered” by Paul lifting from his work.
“I suppose I ought to feel angry,” he said. “My work was stolen by an elected official and putative presidential candidate with a far higher profile than me, who passed it off as his own instead of acknowledging its lowly creator. But I don’t. In fact, I’m not all that bothered by Sen. Paul’s use of my article. Worse things have happened.”
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site’s coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.