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April 12, 2007

Katie Couric Caught Plagiarizing The WSJ

But wait -- she has a defense. She didn't actually plagiarize, because the news items that bore her byline were falsely attributed to her!

In other words, she's not guilty of falsely claiming the writing of the WSJ as her own because she was actually falsely claiming the writing of her staffers as her own.

Which, in this case, turned out not to be the writing of her staffers but of the WSJ.

So, no problem.

Katie Couric did a one-minute commentary last week on the joys of getting her first library card, but the thoughts were less than original. The piece was substantially lifted from a Wall Street Journal column.

CBS News apologized for the plagiarized passages yesterday and said the commentary had been written by a network producer who has since been fired.

The CBS anchor "was horrified," spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said. "We all were."

The "Katie's Notebook" items are distributed to CBS television and radio stations, including WTOP (103.5 FM and 820 AM) in Washington, and posted on the news division's Web site. Genelius said it is "very common" for the first-person commentaries to be put together by staffers without Couric's being involved in the writing, but that she does participate in topic selection.

So it's not really "Katie's Journal," I guess.

What made the ripoff especially striking was the personal flavor of a video -- now removed from the CBS Web site -- that began, "I still remember when I got my first library card, browsing through the stacks for my favorite books."

As Steven Wright said, "The other day I was... Oh wait, that was somebody else."

I won't bother quoting the plagiarized parts. They're near-verbatim.

I don't know why anyone plagiarizes. Cops say kidnapping is the stupidest crime -- because how do you get your freakin' money?

Plagiarism must be the second-stupidest crime. Is there another crime in which the evidence remains in plain sight -- forever? You can plagiarize your first year out of college and then have it spring up to destroy you fifty years later after you've made a career for yourself. It's a ticking time bomb that can destroy your career at any moment. And if you ever achieve any prominence -- it certainly will, because it will be noticed.

For crying out loud, even schoolchildren know that when they plagiarize they should at least change the sentences enough that they're not direct swipes.

How hard is it for an adult in the media industry to re-write a sentence to obliterate any similarities with the plagiarized material? Do Katie Couric and her crack staff not have the sense and writing skills that fifth-graders do?

A representative of CBS said that the "Katie's Journal" segment's name would be changed to the "Intimate, Personal Diary of Katie and/or Fiftteen or Twenty of Her Closest Girlfriends and/or Underlings and/or Copyright Lawyers."

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posted by Ace at 01:50 AM

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