In fact, in reading over my files on plagiarism and fraud, both by journalists and by scholars, I felt a pang of sadness for some of the perpetrators -- an unusual emotion for me, I admit, but there you have it. I shall not remind readers of the identity of one of my favorite plagiarists, a New York Times writer (a Pulitzer Prize winner) whose report on an alleged plagiarism in Boston contained … yes, you guessed it, plagiarism. And I do not want to identify the famed columnists who have been caught making up stories. They have moved on in life. That Washington Post writer from the early 1980s who copped a Pulitzer for a bogus story -- let us forget his/her name, too.
Yet why not remind readers of Dan Rather's aspersions on President George W. Bush's service in the Texas National Guard? Rather's evidence obviously was faked, yet Rather is still claiming some sort of Higher Accuracy. Or how about the CNN-Time story from the late 1990s claiming on doubtful evidence that U.S. forces used nerve gas in Laos? A president of NBC News resigned after admitting in 1993 that his "Dateline" report of an exploding General Motors truck was a hoax, and four years later a Pulitzer was conferred on him for, of all things, editorial writing. Perhaps some journalist statute of limitations had passed.
The New York Times, however, deserves special mention for the likes of Jayson Blair, who both plagiarized and fabricated a whole string of stories before being fired in 2003 along with two editors. A year earlier, the paper had to fire a New York Times Magazine writer after the magazine published the writer's phony story. And just weeks after Blair's departure, the Times' Rick Bragg, another Pulitzer winner, left after being suspended for using another reporter's work as his own. In the summer of 2003, The Villager, a small newspaper in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan, charged the Times with basing stories for three years on Villager stories and even using the same people The Villager used in their stories.
All of which brings me back to El Rushbo and his observance of the passing liberal monopoly in media. Perhaps as conservatives continue to break the liberal monopoly, the liberals will raise their journalistic standards. Or maybe they will get worse; most of the aforementioned plagiarisms and hoked up stories took place in recent years.