A column by Fox News talking head Juan Williams published last month by the Hill was quietly updated last week to fix some pesky instances of plagiarism. The article, it turned out, featured entire paragraphs from a Center for American Progress report on immigration, with a few words changed here and there, as detailed by Salon. “I was writing a column about the immigration debate and had my researcher look around to see what data existed to pump up this argument and he sent back what I thought were his words and summaries of the data,” Williams told Alex Seitz-Wald without apologizing.
“I had never seen the CAP report myself, so I didn’t know that the young man had in fact not summarized the data but had taken some of the language from the CAP report,” Williams continued, adding, “I just feel betrayed.” Because he failed to double-check or do anything with his assistant’s research beyond putting it directly in his published piece? Okay, just checking.
This kind of thing happens to busy, powerful people who are spread thin (see also: Fareed Zakaria, Jonah Lehrer), and the researcher excuse has been used before. But that doesn’t make it acceptable, and for Williams to want any sort of sympathy is almost laughable. He said the assistant has attempted to resign, but Williams hasn’t decided if he’ll accept. How honorable.