Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sliming Rick Perlstein

Paul Krugman, NYT
August 5, 2014 10:36 am

OK, this is grotesque. Rick Perlstein has a new book, continuing his awesomely informative history of the rise of movement conservatism — and he’s facing completely spurious charges of plagiarism.

How do we know that they’re spurious? The people making the charges — almost all of whom have, surprise, movement conservative connections — aren’t pointing to any actual passages that, you know, were lifted from some other book. Instead, they’re claiming that Perlstein paraphrased what other people said. Um, what? Unless there’s a very close match, telling more or less the same story someone else has told before is perfectly ordinary — in fact, it would be distressing if history books didn’t correspond on some things.

Can I say, I’m familiar with this process? There was a time when various of the usual suspects went around claiming that I was doing illegitimate things with jobs data; what I was doing was in fact perfectly normal — but that didn’t stop Daniel Okrent, the outgoing public editor, from firing a parting shot (with no chance for me to reply) accusing me of fiddling with the numbers. I also heard internally that there were claims of plagiarism directed at me, too, but evidently they couldn’t cook up enough stuff to even pretend to make that stick.

(More here.)


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