Trump's government candidate in plagiarism scandal

Monica Crowley took aim at United States President Barack Obama's policies in her 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened?.
Monica Crowley took aim at United States President Barack Obama's policies in her 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened?.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • HarperCollins is withdrawing the digital edition of Monica Crowley's 2012 book What The (Bleep) Just Happened? from retailers, after evidence of plagiarism was reported.

Its decision to recall the book comes after a report by cable news channel CNN that Crowley (pictured), a conservative columnist and television personality who was chosen by United States President-elect Donald Trump for a high-ranking communications role at the National Security Council, had included plagiarised passages from Wikipedia and newspaper articles.

"The book, which has reached the end of its natural sales cycle, will no longer be offered for purchase until such time as the author has the opportunity to source and revise the material," HarperCollins said in a statement on Tuesday.

The book, which took aim at Mr Barack Obama's presidency and policies, was a modest commercial success, selling about 20,000 hardcover copies, according to Publishers Marketplace.

Crowley's book was published by Broadside Books, a conservative imprint at HarperCollins.

It included identical language to passages published by other sources without attributing credit - in about 50 instances - CNN reported over the weekend.

More examples of plagiarism surfaced in Crowley's PhD dissertation, according to Politico, a political news website, which found more than a dozen examples of passages that had been lifted from scholarly works.

While publishers typically have non-fiction books vetted by their legal departments, most do not check for plagiarism, fabrication or factual inaccuracies. As a result, non-fiction books often contain errors and plagiarism.

These types of offences once signified the end of an author's career. But publishers have seemed more willing to give writers a second chance.

Last year, Simon & Schuster published a book by Jonah Lehrer, whose previous books for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt were recalled after it was revealed that he had plagiarised passages, recycled his own work and fabricated quotations.

James Frey, who cobbled up portions of his memoir, A Million Little Pieces, about his drug addiction, made a comeback as a young-adult novelist and publisher.

In Crowley's case, the evidence seemed clear enough: CNN highlighted many instances where text had been lifted from other sources and presented passages with the original material to stress similarities.

HarperCollins' decision to withdraw the book put it at odds with Mr Trump's transition team, which vigorously defended Crowley and dismissed the charges of plagiarism as "a politically motivated attack".

"Monica's exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the administration," Mr Trump's transition team said a statement to CNN.

"HarperCollins - one of the largest and most respected publishers in the world - published her book, which has become a national bestseller.

"Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2017, with the headline 'Trump's government candidate in plagiarism scandal'. Subscribe