Case reopened: reviewing new examples of plagiarism by the Daily Beast's Gerald Posner.

Media criticism.
Feb. 8 2010 5:30 PM

More Posner Plagiarism

Veteran reporter Gerald Posner is a repeat offender.

Gerald Posner. Click image to expand.
Gerald Posner

Last week, a reader tipped me to an instance of potential plagiarism by Gerald Posner in the Daily Beast, for which Posner is chief investigative reporter. After I called the plagiarism to the attention of Daily Beast Executive Editor Edward Felsenthal, the site deleted five pilfered sentences and added an editor's note to explain the deletions and to apologize.

In an interview with me, Posner admitted he had plagiarized the Miami Herald in his piece —although he had no explanation for how he had lifted the copy. Posner's editor, Edward Felsenthal, also acknowledged without flinching that Posner had plagiarized but added that he believed the act to be inadvertent and that Posner would continue to write for the Daily Beast. (I've saved a copy of the unexpurgated article.)

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But this isn't the only example of Posner pinching copy without attribution. Slate reader Gregory Gelembuik and I have uncovered additional examples of plagiarism by Posner in the Daily Beast from the Texas Lawyer, a Miami Herald blog, a Miami Herald editorial, a Miami Herald article, and a health care journalism blog.

Posner copied from a July 20, 2009, Texas Lawyer  article in his Feb. 4, 2010, Daily Beast piece titled "Can This Man Save Jacko's Doctor?" Here are the plagiarized passages, with the relevant sections marked in bold:

On Dateline NBC and in other TV interviews over the next few days, Chernoff got out four main messages:Murray was cooperating with the police; he did not prescribe Oxycontin or Demerol to Jackson; he had only briefly been Jackson's doctor; and many other physicians had treated and prescribed medication for Jackson.
The Daily Beast, Feb. 4, 2010

Chernoff taped the show in Los Angeles on Sunday June 28. During the broadcast, Chernoff says he was able to deliver his main messages about his client:Murray was cooperating with police; he did not prescribe Demerol or Oxycontin to Jackson; he had only treated Jackson for a short period of time; and other doctors had treated and prescribed medication for Jackson.
Texas Lawyer, July 20, 2009

~~~~~~

Then Chernoff flew to Las Vegas and gave Murray, who had returned to his home there, a secure cell phone to prevent electronic eavesdropping.
The Daily Beast, Feb. 4, 2010

On June 30, Chernoff flew to Las Vegas to bring Murray a secure cell phone to prevent electronic eavesdropping as well as to collect certain documents.
Texas Lawyer, July 20, 2009

In his Nov. 21, 2009, Daily Beast article, "Murder or Miscarriage?," Posner plagiarized an Oct. 27, 2009, Miami Herald blog post. Again, the relevant section is marked in bold:

Turned out that 37-year-old Woodward was being held at the Wilshire Division jail, in lieu of $2 million bail on suspicion of murder for the death of an unborn child—believed to be his. At the time, the police said the arrest happened after an investigation revealed "suspicious circumstances of a miscarriage" reported to them only a few days earlier. The fetus was estimated to be in its 13th week.
The Daily Beast, Nov. 21, 2009

Josh Woodward, owner of South Beach's 8 Oz. Burger Bar, was arrested Sunday in Los Angeles and is being held on at the Wilshire Division jail in lieu of a $2 million bail on suspicion of murder for the death of an unborn child believed to be his. Police say the arrest happened after an investigation on Monday revealed "suspicious circumstances of a miscarriage" that was reported on October 19. The fetus was estimated to be in its 13th week.
Miami Herald blog, Oct. 27, 2009

Posner plagiarized the Miami Herald again in his July 29, 2009, Daily Beast piece, "Pill Mill Capital Cracks Down":

Until now, pain clinics have avoided rigorous state inspections because of a legal loophole that exempts facilities that don't accept medical insurance. Most clinics only take cash. As a result, pill-mill owners and employees don't have to undergo the background checks required at other medical clinics. More than a dozen doctors and clinic owners in South Florida with disciplinary records or criminal convictions are operating freely. An owner of an Oakland Park pill mill is sitting in jail awaiting trial on charges of trafficking Oxycodone. ... 
The Daily Beast, July 29, 2009

Until now, many pain clinics have escaped rigorous state inspections because of a quirk in the law that exempts facilities that don't take insurance—and many clinics accept cash only. This loophole also allows clinic employees and owners to avoid the background checks required at other health clinics. 

The Miami Heraldhas identified more than a dozen doctors and clinic owners in South Florida with disciplinary records or criminal convictions. One man continues to own an Oakland Park pain clinic while in jail awaiting trial on charges of trafficking oxycodone.
Miami Herald, June 19, 2009 (retrieved from Nexis; the St. Petersburg Timesalsoposted the Herald story)

~~~~~~

The new law, passed nearly unanimously in the legislature, requires doctors and pharmacists to record patient prescriptions for most drugs in a state-controlled database.
The Daily Beast, July 29, 2009

The new law, passed nearly unanimously in the Legislature, will require doctors and pharmacists to record patient prescriptions for most drugs in a state-controlled database.
Miami Herald, June 19, 2009 (retrieved from Nexis; the St. Petersburg Timesalsoposted the Herald story)

Posner also swiped from a Herald editorial and a health care journalism blog (which credits a Herald editorial) for his July 12, 2009, Daily Beast piece, "Jackson and the 'Pill Mills' ":

Now the state has become the unofficial national headquarters for a thriving black market in addictive prescription drugs, especially oxycodone, one of the drugs found in the sweep of Jackson's house after his arrest.
Daily Beast, July 12, 2009

The report describes how Broward has recently become the unofficial national headquarters for a thriving black market in dangerous prescription drugs, especially oxycodone.
Miami Herald editorial, April 8, 2009 (retrieved from Nexis; reprinted by the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce)

~~~~~~

Only 45 South Florida doctors are responsible for prescribing nearly nine million oxycodone pills in the last six months of 2008. Thirty-three of the top 50 oxycodone-dispensing doctors in the United States practice in Broward County.
Daily Beast, July 12, 2009

Among [Miami Herald reporter Scott] Hiaasen's findings:
45 South Florida doctors sold nearly nine million oxycodone pills in the last six months of 2008.
33 of the top 50 oxycodone-dispensing doctors in the United States practice in Broward County.
Covering Health, April 13, 2009

A lawyer by training, Posner is a full-time journalist who has written books about the Kennedy assassination (Case Closed), Ross Perot, Motown, the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship, 9/11, and other subjects. His byline has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Talk, Time, U.S. News & World Report, and elsewhere.

Asked for a comment about the new findings, the Daily Beast's Felsenthal e-mailed this statement: "We obviously take what's happened very seriously. We will be suspending Gerald Posner while we review his articles, to return if we are satisfied that he has taken the necessary steps to avoid this in the future."

Posner offered this statement:

Today I found out that I am suspended from my Chief Investigative Reporter position at The Daily Beast. I now realize that a method of compiling information that I have used successfully since 1984 on book research, obviously does not work in a failsafe manner at the warp speed of the net. Some of the incidents raised by Jack Shafer are not plagiarism, but are instances in which I received the same exact prepared quotation or statement from a police officer or press agent as other reporters. But others are mistakes that I deeply regret.

Rest assured, no one has been tougher on me than I have over this issue. I ask all of you to accept my apology for these instances, a tiny percentage of the hundreds of thousands of words I've written over decades. I accept, however, the full responsibility. 

Follow That Story! See "The Posner Plagiarism Perplex."

******

I read my e-mail at slate.pressbox@gmail.com hourly and tweet at Twitter intermittently. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type the word Posner2 in the subject head of an e-mail message, and send it to slate.pressbox@gmail.com.

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

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