Universal Says It Doesn’t Think Coulter Plagiarized

By: Dave Astor

Universal Press Syndicate said today that it doesn’t think controversial columnist Ann Coulter is guilty of plagiarism.

When reached for reaction to Universal’s statement, the head of the company the New York Post asked to investigate the alleged plagiarism said of some of Coulter’s work: “It is uncited, it is unoriginal, and it does look like plagiarism.” But iParadigms CEO John Barrie emphasized that it’s up to Coulter’s syndicate and book publisher to accept or ignore his company’s findings. “Our technology is not designed to make those judgment calls,” he said of the iThenticate system.

In a statement sent to E&P, Universal President and Editor Lee Salem said: “Last week a software program company official ran Ann Coulter’s columns through a ‘match-text’ program, frequently used by teachers to detect original work. The New York Post cited two columns in which some text matched other published materials and also mentioned three snippets in her book, ‘Godless: The Church of Liberalism.’

“In addition to looking at the columns mentioned in the New York Post story, we also reviewed a sampling of other columns that have been mentioned in the media. Like her book publisher, Crown, Universal Press Syndicate finds no merits to the allegations of plagiarism brought by the software company executive. There are only so many ways you can rewrite a fact and minimal matching text is not plagiarism.

“Universal Press Syndicate is confident in the ability of Ms. Coulter, an attorney and frequent media target, to know when to make attribution and when not to. We also have confidence in our 35-year history of detecting fraudulent and unethical work, having represented conservatives and liberal commentators alike.”

The reporter who wrote the Post article, Phil Recchia, had no comment.

Prior to the Post article, charges of plagiarism against Coulter emerged from several blogs, including Raw Story and The Rude Pundit. TPMmuckraker has also been covering the plagiarism allegations extensively.

Barrie told E&P that Coulter’s work might have been more a case of “textbook plagiarism” than some other writers — including Michael Olesker, formerly of The Sun in Baltimore — who lost their jobs amid plagiarism charges. “It’s definitely not any less serious than Michael Olesker’s situation,” he said.

The iParadigms CEO added that he only looked at part of Coulter’s “Godless” book and some of her columns. He said more examples of “textbook plagiarism” might be found if more of Coulter’s work were scrutinized.

Barrie also emphasized that the Post asked him to look at Coulter’s work, with which he previously hadn’t been very familiar. “I’m not out to get Ann Coulter,” he said.

Coulter — who appears in more than 100 newspapers via Universal — has also been criticized for recent harsh comments concerning, among others, certain 9/11 widows and Rep. John Murtha.


Related E&P stories:

Mixed Reader Reaction to Shreveport Paper’s Possible Coulter Drop.

Shreveport Paper Considers Dropping Coulter.

‘NY Post’ Cites Evidence That Ann Coulter Plagiarized Parts of Book, Columns.

Huffington, at Columnists’ Convention, Tackles Coulter, Will, Woodward.

Universal Executive Responds to ‘E&P’ Column on Ann Coulter.

Dave Astor: Enabling Ann Coulter.

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