Nixon's Monica Stonewalls About Plagiarism!

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Aug. 23 1999 6:08 PM

Nixon's Monica Stonewalls About Plagiarism!

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."

Johnson:

"Nixon ... consistently underestimated the unscrupulousness of his media enemies and their willingness to sacrifice the national interest in the pursuit of their institutional vendetta."

Crowley:

"Nixon, though always suspicious of his political enemies, consistently underestimated their ruthlessness and willingness to sacrifice the national interest in the pursuit of their institutional vendetta."

Johnson:

"So great was the inequity of Nixon's downfall that future historians may well conclude he would have been justified in allowing events to take their course and in subjecting the nation to the prolonged paralysis of a public impeachment, which at least would have given him the opportunity to defend himself by due process of law. But once again his patriotism took precedence over his self-interest ..."

Crowley:

"Given the inequity of Nixon's downfall, historians may yet determine that he would have been justified in allowing events to take their course and subjecting the country to a prolonged process of impeachment, which would have given him the chance to defend himself by due process of law. His allegiance to the country, however, overrode his political self-interest."

Johnson:

Characterizes the 1960 election as "one of the most corrupt elections of modern times."

Crowley:

Characterizes the 1960 election as "one of the most corrupt elections of modern times."

[This assertion, unlike the others, has some merit, and it's possible the two arrived at the phrase independent of one another; but given the other examples cited here, that likelihood is not great.]

Johnson:

"By a curious paradox Richard Nixon was one of the very few people who emerged from the Watergate affair with credit."

Crowley:

"Ironically, Nixon was one of the few people who emerged from Watergate with credit ..."

[Johnson is British, Crowley American; why would she, on her own, use a Britishism like "with credit"?]

Chatterbox left phone and e-mail messages with Crowley, but received no response. It's possible that Crowley, like many of the more attentive members of the news media, is on vacation this week. Or perhaps Crowley's closeted in order to finish a Talk magazine profile she's reportedly writing about Liddy Dole. (The New Republic's Dana Milbank recently quoted Crowley saying she's trying "to humanize another Republican.")

 

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