A plagiarism probe for Ann Coulter

An expert says the conservative pundit seems to have lifted passages for her column and for "Godless."

Published July 6, 2006 1:14PM (EDT)


The company that syndicates Ann Coulter's column is apparently willing to look into charges that the conservative pundit committed plagiarism in the course of writing her bestseller "Godless: The Church of Liberalism."

Several Web sites have raised questions over passages in "Godless," and the New York Post upped the ante over the weekend when it reported that the creator of plagiarism-detection software had found three instances of "textbook plagiarism" in the book. The expert, John Barrie, told the Post that one passage from "Godless" appears to have been copied from Planned Parenthood literature; another appears to have been pilfered from the San Francisco Chronicle; and a third appears to have been lifted from a newspaper in Portland, Maine.

In addition, Barrie told the Post that his iThenticate software has identified problems with Coulter's syndicated column. One 2005 column contained six passages taken, without attribution, from a Los Angeles Times story, Barrie said, while another took 10 facts about the NEA straight from a 1991 Heritage Foundation report.

Coulter initially refused to comment about the charges, and a spokeswoman for her syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, suggested to TPMMuckraker that the syndicate couldn't follow up on the charges because it didn't have contact information for Barrie or the New York Post. The spokeswoman eventually changed course, however, telling TPMMuckraker that UPS had, indeed, reached out to Barrie for additional information about Coulter's work.

As for Coulter? She hasn't responded to the charges in the Post's story directly, choosing to attack the Post instead. In her latest column, Coulter refers to the Post's "constant harassment" of her -- there's no mention of the plagiarism story -- and complains that the paper has been "reduced to tabloid status." As others have already noted, the Post is ... a tabloid.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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