Nixon's Monica Stonewalls, Part II

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Aug. 30 1999 4:38 PM

Nixon's Monica Stonewalls, Part II

Monica Crowley, the Fox News political analyst and author of two books about her former boss, Richard Nixon, is annoyed with Chatterbox for characterizing her stance toward her plagiarism controversy (see "Nixon's Monica Stonewalls About Plagiarism!") as "stonewalling." She told Chatterbox (who finally reached her today by phone): "I did not stonewall you or the issue." She hadn't returned Chatterbox's earlier queries because she was on vacation, she said; and she'd already explained herself to Felicity Barringer of the New York Times.

But careful readers of Chatterbox's earlier item--about the striking similarities between a recent Op-Ed piece Crowley wrote for the Wall Street Journal and an essay written 11 years earlier by Paul Johnson for Commentary--will note that Chatterbox had already allowed for the possibility that Crowley was on vacation. They will also note that Crowley's comment as quoted in the Times--that "I have not read" Johnson's piece--seemed, under the circumstances, to be less than truthful. It was mainly in reference to this Times quote that Chatterbox was accusing Crowley of "stonewalling." And guess what? Crowley--who confirmed to Chatterbox that she's currently writing a Liddy Dole profile for Talk magazine--is still stonewalling!

To review: No fewer than five passages in Crowley's Op-Ed, a tribute to Nixon pegged to the 25th anniversary of his resignation, were worded in ways that were identical or nearly identical to passages in the Johnson article. (Scroll down to the bottom of Chatterbox's earlier item to assess the extremely damaging evidence.) It isn't possible that Crowley never read Johnson's piece. When the Journal got wind of the similarities, it published an editor's note saying it wouldn't have published Crowley's piece had it been aware of the "striking similarities in phraseology."

Crowley now says she does not remember making the absolute statement ("I have not read") that the Times attributed to her. Her mantra to Chatterbox was, "I do not remember reading the [Johnson] piece." Cleverly pretending the accusation against her was that she stole Johnson's ideas about Nixon, she said that "the concepts in question are shared by those with a knowledgeable background of [Nixon's] life and career." Well, sure, it can well be imagined that two people would independently arrive at the (erroneous) idea that Nixon got screwed. What can't be imagined is that two people would independently arrive at the same words to express this idea.

"I understand that there are clear similarities in some of the language use, but I arrived at my conclusions independently and I expressed them that way," Crowley told Chatterbox. "Nor would I ever submit material from a source for publication without attribution, without citing it properly."

But surely, Chatterbox sputtered, you must have read Johnson's article. Are you saying you didn't read Johnson's article?

"I don't remember ever reading the piece," Crowley answered.

But that's not possible! Chatterbox said. Lengthy passages are repeated verbatim, or almost verbatim!

"I acknowledge to you there are similarities in the phraseology," Crowley said.

Oh, come on, Chatterbox said. Why not come clean and at least admit that you must have plagiarized inadvertently?

"I did not plagiarize. Absolutely not."

What about the giveaway Britishism (Johnson is British; Crowley is not) you repeated--that Nixon emerged from Watergate "with credit"?

"Come on, Tim, I've been using that phrase for a long time."

Chatterbox briefly considered dedicating the rest of his life to finding out whether Crowley has ever before used the phrase "with credit," and decided against it. Clearly, Crowley wasn't going to do even a Ruth Shalit (i.e., admit plagiarism but say it was inadvertent and trivial), which Chatterbox previously thought was the minimal amount of self-abnegation such a situation demanded. Crowley was just going to ... stonewall.

It's working. Aside from Chatterbox's rants on the subject, there continues to be no follow-up to the Times item (and an earlier one by the New York Post) in any news outlet tracked by Nexis. This provides further evidence that Bob Woodward is wrong when he argues in his new book, Shadow, that lying and obfuscating by public figures is inevitably self-destructive. Chatterbox remembers writing this before ("Why Clinton Was Better Off Lying"), but the archival link doesn't seem to be working just now, so he'll just plagiarize himself.



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