It's never good to get your hand caught in the cookie jar. But if caught you must be, Chatterbox recommends that you arrange for it to happen during the month of August, when the media get lazy and inattentive. The latest illustration of this principle is the lack of publicity surrounding some apparent plagiarism committed by Monica Crowley, Richard Nixon's former editorial adviser and research consultant, now a Fox News political analyst and author of two titillating books dishing "candid commentary" from her mentor, Nixon Off the Record, which had a splashy Clinton-bashing excerpt in The New Yorker, and Nixon in Winter. (Watch for Nixon From Beyond the Grave: His Thoughts on Clinton's Impeachment, The War in Kosovo, and the Harry Potter Craze, coming from Random House this fall.)
On August 9--the 25th anniversary of Richard Nixon's presidential resignation--the Wall Street Journal's editorial page published a Nixon apologia by Crowley headlined "The Day Nixon Said Goodbye." Four days later, the Journal ran an editor's note that read as follows: "There are striking similarities in phraseology between "The Day Richard Nixon Said Goodbye," an editorial feature Monday by Monica Crowley, and a 1988 article by Paul Johnson in Commentary magazine ... Had we known of the parallels, we would not have published the article." Pretty interesting, no? Yet a Nexis search conducted earlier today turned up only two other references to this incident--one in a New York Post gossip column that appeared the same day the Journal ran its editor's note, and one brief item that ran in the back of the New York Times' business section three days later.
Since the Times item, which appeared a full week ago (and which Chatterbox happened to spot while he was vacationing in Vermont), nothing further appears to have been written or uttered on TV about this. That's especially striking in view of Crowley's flagrant (oh, let's just say it, Nixonian) stonewalling on the matter. Crowley was quoted by the Times' Felicity Barringer as saying that "there are clear similarities in the language. I have wracked my brain, and I can honestly tell you that I have not read" Johnson's article. I am not a plagiarist!
Well, Chatterbox has read both, and it just isn't possible for Crowley not to have read Johnson's article. (It is possible, of course, that she has a photographic memory and repeated Johnson's not-particularly-memorable phrases unconsciously; though if she had a photographic memory, wouldn't she remember reading the Johnson piece?)
Let's proceed to the evidence:
From Johnson's "In Praise of Richard Nixon," Commentary, October 1988:
"There was none of the personal corruption which had marked the rule of Lyndon Johnson, let alone the gross immoralities and security risks of John F. Kennedy's White House."
From Crowley's "The Day Nixon Said Goodbye," Wall Street Journal, August 9, 1999:
"There was none of the personal corruption that had marked the rule of Lyndon Johnson or the base immoralities and outrageous security risks of the Kennedy and Clinton White Houses."
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