Red America, my new blog at washingtonpost.com, has been under attack since its launch. It is a conservative blog on a mainstream media site, so many of the attacks were expected. If one bothers to read it, I believe it stands as a welcome addition to the opinion debate.The hate mail that I have received since the launch of this blog has been overwhelmingly profane and violent. My family has been threatened; my friends have been deluged; my phone has been prank called. The most recent email that showed up while writing this post talked about how the author would like to hack off my head, and wishes my mother had aborted me.
But in the course of accusing me of racism, homophobia, bigotry, and even (on one extensive Atrios thread) of having a sexual relationship with my mother, the leftists shifted their accusations to ones of plagiarism. You can find the major examples here: I link to this source only because I believe it’s the only place that hasn’t yet written about how they’d like to rape my sister.
I know that charges of plagiarism are serious. While I am not a journalist, I have, myself, written more than one thing that has been plagiarized in the past. But these charges have also served to create an atmosphere where no matter what is said on my Red America blog, leftists will focus on things with my byline from when I was a teenager.
I can rebut several of the alleged incidents here. The most recent accusation, is that I stole a music review from Crosswalk and passed it off at National Review Online. In fact, I wrote both lists myself; I was one of Crosswalk’s music review contributors at the time.
The Left has also accused me of foisting Sen. Frist quotes and some descriptive material from the Washington Post for a New York Press article on the Capitol Shooter. But the quotes I used were either properly credited or came from Sen. Frist’s press conference, which I attended along with many other reporters. So it is no surprise that we had similar quotes or similar descriptions of the same event. I have reams of notes and interviews about the events of that day. I also went over the entire piece step by step with NYPress editors to ensure that it was unquestionably solid before it ran.
Virtually every other alleged instance of plagiarism that I’ve seen comes from a single semester’s worth of pieces that were printed under my name at my college paper, The Flat Hat, when I was 17.
In one instance, I have been accused me of passing off P.J. O’Rourke’s writing as my own in a column for the paper. But the truth is that I had met P.J. at a Republican event and asked his permission to do a college-specific version of his classic piece on partying. He granted permission, the piece was cleared with my editors at the paper, and it ran as inspired by O’Rourke’s original.
My critics have also accused me of plagiarism in multiple movie reviews for the college paper. I once caught an editor at the paper inserting a line from The New Yorker (which I read) into my copy and protested. When that editor was promoted, I resigned. Before that, insertions had been routinely made in my copy, which I did not question. I did not even at that time read the publications from which I am now alleged to have lifted material. When these insertions were made, I assumed, like most disgruntled writers would, that they were unnecessary but legitimate editorial additions.
But all these specifics are beside the point. Considering that all of this happened almost eight years ago, and that there are no files or notes that I’ve kept from that brief stint, it is simply my word against the liberal blogosphere on these examples. It becomes a matter of who you believe. [or we could just find the person that supposedly did the dastardly deeds -Pinko Punko]
The truth is, a more responsible teenager would’ve nipped this sort of thing in the bud. A less sloppy writer would have made sure that material copied from other places never made it into a published piece, and never necessitated apologies or explanations that will do nothing to stop the critics. I was wrong not to do so.
But I do have one other collegiate example that might be to the point. When I was a junior in college, I wrote an article about liberal protests against Henry Kissinger’s visit to our campus. The leftists featured in the piece tried to get me kicked out of school. They mounted a six-month campaign against me. They posted fliers about me on campus. They sent me reams of hate mail. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful – the Honor Council completely cleared my name and the article as the truth. The events of the past 72 hours seem like a rerun of that experience.
The truth is, no conservative could write for the Post without being subject to the gauntlet of the liberal attack machine. There is no question in my mind that any RedState contributor writing for this blog would have found leftists delving through his high school yearbooks and grade school book reports in an effort to discredit and defame him. And if you too were a sloppy teenage writer, your errors or the errors of others would’ve been exploded.
I have a great many friends who are willing to stand and defend me on this. I appreciate their support. I have enormous respect for Jim Brady and the vision he has at WPNI. But while the folks at washingtonpost.com understand my position and are convinced by my arguments on many of these issues, they also feel that the firestorm here will only serve to damage us all, and that there is no way this blog can continue without being permanently tagged to this firestorm. Therefore, I have resigned this position with washingtonpost.com.
This is a shame. As you all know, I am a conservative, but not a partisan – I believe had this blog been allowed to continue, it would have been a significant addition to the Post’s site. The Post showed bravery by including a conservative voice, and I hope they continue to seek that balance.
While my blog was only alive for a week, it did have one result that was encouraging. If the change of heart described here continues, it will all have been worth it.
To my friends: thank you for your support. To my enemies: I take enormous solace in the fact that you spent this week bashing me, instead of America.