Politics & Government

Who is Monica Crowley, conservative pundit, Trump appointee and alleged plagiarist?

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

Monica Crowley smiles as she exits the elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump announced Crowley as senior director of Strategic Communications for the National Security Council.
Monica Crowley smiles as she exits the elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump announced Crowley as senior director of Strategic Communications for the National Security Council. AP

Monica Crowley, a national security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, was accused by CNN Saturday of plagiarizing passages in her 2012 book.

OK, who is Monica Crowley?

Crowley got her start as a research assistant on foreign policy to former President Richard Nixon, helping the politician — who had already resigned for his role in the Watergate break-in at the Democratic National Campaign headquarters and the subsequent cover-up — in the final few years of his life by editing his books, arranging his speaking engagements and coordinating his travel. Once he died in 1994, Crowley published two books about him. She also earned a Ph.D. in international relations from Columbia University.

After that, Crowley became a political columnist for the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times, as well as the host of her own radio show and a frequent guest on Fox News, per her bio on the Washington Times.

Crowley has been a fierce critic of President Obama dating back to his initial run in 2008. At the time, she repeated an unverified claim that Obama was possibly “Arab-African” and and not African-American. On her website, she praised the 2008 Republican ticket of Senator John McCain and former governor Sarah Palin.

In 2012, Crowley called Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney a “brilliant and visionary” candidate. It was also during the 2012 campaign that Crowley published her book, “What The (Bleep) Just Happened?” When Obama won a second term, she told Newsmax that the nation was at a “tipping point” of becoming a failed entitlement state.

In 2016, Crowley did not endorse a candidate during the primaries but pushed for Trump during the general election, comparing him favorably to Nixon at several points in the campaign.

After Trump’s election, some speculated that Crowley might become the new President’s press secretary, per The Hill. Instead, she was named senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, per the Washington Times. As part of her new role, she will report to retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who Trump named his national security adviser.

What exactly does CNN say she plagiarized?

Based off an analysis of “What The (Bleep) Just Happened?” by reporter Andrew Kaczynski, CNN reports that “large sections” of the book are lifted from other sources without proper attribution. In fact, the book doesn’t have any bibliography or notes, per CNN.

As evidence of the claim, CNN highlights more than 50 passages from news stories, columns and other websites, including Wikipedia. The outlets include the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Yahoo News, the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, National Review, New York Times, Politico, the BBC, New York Post, Bloomberg, Investopedia and others.

Here are a few examples, with help from Business Insider.

Wall Street Journal commentator Michael J. Boskin wrote, “As Milton Friedman taught decades ago, the true burden on taxpayers today is government spending; government borrowing requires future interest payments out of future taxes.”

Crowley wrote in her book, “As the late great economist Milton Friedman pointed out, the true burden on taxpayers is government spending because government borrowing demands future interest payments out of future taxes.”

An AP article reads, “There may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at rates lower than middle-income workers. bIn 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service. But that's less than 1 percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.”

Crowley wrote, “There may be some individual millionaires who pay taxes at lower rates than middle-income folks. According to the IRS, in 2009 there were 1,470 households that filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million but paid no federal income tax. But that’s less than 1 percent of the 237,000 returns showing incomes over $1 million.”

A Wikipedia article reads, “In December 2007 CIA director Michael Hayden stated that “of about 100 prisoners held to date in the CIA program, the enhanced techniques were used on about 30, and waterboarding used on just three.”

The exact same passage appears in Crowley’s book with no attribution.

Perhaps the most bizarre instance of alleged plagiarism came from a 2004 website about “pork barrel spending” listed on a podiatrist’s website.

Is this the first time Crowley has been accused of plagiarism?

No. In 1999, Crowley wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal titled “The Day Nixon Said Goodbye,” per Slate. Later, however, the Journal published an editor’s note that said there were “striking similarities in phraseology between "The Day Richard Nixon Said Goodbye," ... and a 1988 article by Paul Johnson in Commentary magazine ... Had we known of the parallels, we would not have published the article.”

As CNN reports, Crowley was quoted in a New York Times article at the time saying that while she did see the similarities in wording, “'I did not, nor would I ever, use material from a source without citing it.”

What have she and Trump’s team said in response to CNN’s report?

Crowley did not respond to requests for comment from CNN, nor did her publisher, HarperCollins. A Trump transition spokesperson, however, issued a statement in support of Crowley.

“Monica’s exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the Administration,” the statement read. “HarperCollins—one of the largest and most respected publishers in the world—published her book which has become a national best-seller. Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”

This is the second instance of plagiarism inside Trump’s team, with the first being Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention that recycled phrases from a Michelle Obama tweet. The speechwriter who helped Melania Trump write her speech, offered her resignation after the controversy, but Trump did not accept the resignation, per CNN.

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