Pulitzer-Winning Lefty Writer Hit with Serial Plagiarism Charges
Chris Hedges is a big deal in left-wing circles, and according to the left-wing New Republic, Hedges is also a serial plagiarizer. Writer Christopher Ketcham details a list of incidents going all the way back to Hedges first book, which was published in 2002.
Apparently, it all began to unravel in 2010 after Hedges submitted a manuscript to Harper's and the magazine's fact checkers found numerous incidents of not only plagiarism, but Hedges claiming original reporting done by others as his own.
The trouble began when Ross passed the piece along to the fact-checker assigned to the story. As Ross and the fact-checker began working through the material, they discovered that sections of Hedges’s draft appeared to have been lifted directly from the work of a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter named Matt Katz, who in 2009 had published a four-part series on social and political dysfunction in Camden.
Ketcham summarizes it as a "leading moralist on the left … caught plagiarizing at one of the oldest magazines on the left."
In Hedges' book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning," which Ketcham describes as a "classic," Hedges apparently went so far as to plagiarize Ernest Hemingway. After being caught, for later editions, Hedges changed the wording a bit but still (and without attribution) stole original ideas and thoughts from the author's "A Farewell to Arms."
The New Republic details disturbing and chronic incidents of Hedges' plagiarism -- where he lifted from and/or published in a number of elite, left-wing magazines and websites, including Harpers, Salon, Truthdig, and the Nation.
According to Ketcham, this detailed reporting on Hedges "first took shape as an investigation for The American Prospect and then for Salon, both of which eventually declined to publish it."
Most of the allegations against Hedges go well beyond the kind of honest mistakes those of us who write for a living live in fear of making: forgetting to link a source or inadvertently plagiarizing simply because you forgot to put something in block quotes. NRO's Jonah Goldberg puts it best:
As a busy guy with lots of deadlines, I’ve always understood and feared the dangerous possibility of sloppily copying something by mistake. What I have never been able to get my mind around is willful, sustained, and clearly deliberate plagiarism — particularly when committed by very successful writers. I can see why some insecure kid might do something stupid. I don’t condone it, I can just understand it. But how do you explain Chris Hedges? If this New Republic piece is right, then he’s a grotesque and wanton plagiarist.
What happens now? Will Hedges' publishers (book, magazine, and digital) do the right thing and investigate his work fully. The fact that The American Prospect and Salon refused to publish Ketcham's investigative piece is not a good sign that the organized left is eager to face the idea of holding one of their cherished own accountable.
Even more troubling is the lack of cooperation Ketcham details from outlets confronted with Hedges' alleged plagiarism in their own publications.
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