New Think Tank CEO Allen West Plagiarized Viral Internet Story

UPDATE: West Is Now Trying To Hide His Plagiarism

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

UPDATE 1 (4:08pm): West has updated his piece but has not admitted to the plagiarism.

The following sentence has been added to the piece, just before the series of paragraphs Media Matters highlighted as originating with the viral story: "Then I came across a widely circulated email and viral internet post about a number of stories that seem to have dropped off the radar of the mainstream media, and conveniently ignored by the Department of Justice."

That sentence replaces one from the original version in which West had credited the research in the article to himself, writing: "I decided to do a little checking and scouring for some information. And it didn't take long to find proof of hypocrisy that reaches the highest levels -- the White House."

The post now includes italicized paragraphs where West had previously committed mass plagiarism. He has also fixed the three plagiarized typos that were originally identified by Media Matters. There is no indication in the post that it has been changed.

A screenshot of West's original post can be found here. A comparison of the original version (left) and current version (right) can be found here.

UPDATE 2 (5:15pm): Following the publication of this post, Media Matters emailed West for comment. Michele Hickford, AllenBWest.com editor-in-chief, replied that "I know you've already written your story, but I have revised our post to indicate the copy that came from the original sources. I had inadvertently omitted the quotation marks when I originally posted."

Media Matters subsequently asked Hickford for further clarification. Hickford wrote that "Allen West is the author of the post." She also said that "as editor, I had inadvertently omitted the quotes, and once I realized the quotes were omitted, added the sentence regarding the source of the original content to clarify." When asked why the post does not indicate that it has been revised, Hickford wrote: "We do not generally note updates to the stories unless substantive facts of the stories have changed. in this case, the specific shooting incidences remain unchanged."

This explanation doesn't pass the smell test. West originally wrote that he himself did "a little checking and scouring for some information." West did not originally include any links or citations to the material that was purportedly intended to be quoted (and still does not do so). And West's editor "inadvertently omitted" quotation marks for five paragraphs (the sixth paragraph cited below has not been italicized).

ORIGINAL POST: 

Allen West heavily plagiarized from a viral Internet story in a piece attacking the Obama administration for purportedly ignoring the deaths of law enforcement officers. West lifted at least six paragraphs (including typos) from the story, which was previously posted on sites like Yahoo! AnswersFree RepublicFacebook, and the comments section of various websites.

West is a Fox News contributor and former Republican congressman who was recently named the CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), a conservative think tank. Announcing his hiring, NCPA called West, who begins on January 2, "an outstanding choice for CEO. He is a visionary leader, committed to the free-market principles that form the foundation of the NCPA's research and education."

West wrote a December 11 piece for his website responding to recent "black lives matter" protests. He wondered if President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have ever stopped to "consider if the lives of law enforcement officers matter" and claimed he did "a little checking and scouring for some information. And it didn't take long to find proof of hypocrisy that reaches the highest levels -- the Oval Office."

He then heavily plagiarized from a viral piece that began appearing on the Internet months ago. The viral piece, which attacks President Obama's response to law enforcement murders, has been posted on various websites, comments sectionsmessage boards, and Facebook pages (including on West's fanpage by one of his followers). 

The piece has been attributed to a wide range of people, including "a Retired Police Officer" or "a retired Federal Law Enforcement Officer." It's also appeared as bylined pieces on community commentary pages and in Letters to the Editor pages under the names Doug Oxford (Citrus County Chronicle, 9/20/14), Bill Jamison (Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, 9/5/14), and Nick Hale (Naples Daily News, 8/31/14), according to a Nexis search.

The claim that President Obama has been indifferent to the deaths of law enforcement officers is wrong. PolitiFact called a variation of the claim "pants on fire" false, writing that "We found many instances of White House 'special recognition' for fallen officers." It added: "the meat of its accusation -- that Obama has ignored the suffering of law enforcement officers killed in action -- is demonstrably wrong. We found at least six instances in which Obama honored the lives of fallen officers in writing or in speeches."

West alternated between lightly rewriting the piece and copying its text verbatim, including typos. His examples and the viral piece's examples appear in the same order. 

side-by-side of excerpts from West's piece and a December 5 version of the story posted on a political message board highlights the similarities:  

Here's a breakdown of six consecutive paragraphs from West's piece vs. the viral piece. 

West wrote of Detective Melvin Santiago:

Does anyone remember Detective Melvin Santiago? He was a Jersey City police officer who was shot to death on July 13, 2014. Santiago was white. His killer, Lawrence Campbell, was black. Does anyone recall Obama appearing before national television and calling for justice for Officer Santiago's family?

From the viral piece:

Does anyone remember Detective Melvin Santiago? He was a Jersey City police officer who was shot to death on July 13th. Santiago was white. His killer, Lawrence Campbell , was black. Does anyone recall Obama appearing before national television and calling for justice for Officer Santiago's family? Does anyone recall Eric Holder rushing to Jersey City to see that justice was done?

West wrote of Officer Jeffrey Westerfield:

Take the case of Officer Jeffrey Westerfield. He was a Gary, Indiana police officer who was shot to death on July 6, 2014. Officer Westerfield was white, his killer, Carl LeEllis Blount, Jr. was black. Anyone recall a statement from President Obama? Did Eric Holder fly over and visit with the family?

From the viral piece:

How about Officer Jeffrey Westerfield? He was a Gary, Indiana police officer who was shot to death on July 6, 2014. Officer Westerfield was white, his killer, Carl LeEllis Blount, Jr. was black. where was Obama? Where was Holder?

West wrote of Officer Perry Renn:

Officer Perry Renn was an Indianapolis, Indiana police officer who was shot to death July 5, 2014. Officer Renn was white. His killer, Major Davis, was black. And how many White House envoys attended Officer Renn's funeral?

From the viral piece:

Officer Perry Renn was an Indianapolis, Indiana police officer who was shot to death July 5, 2014, the day before Officer Westerfield was killed. Officer Renn was white. His killer, Major Davis, was black. I don't recall any mention by Obama about the untimely death of Officer Renn and, I doubt that Eric Holder rushed to Indianapolis to make sure justice was served.

West wrote of Deputy Sheriff Allen Bares:

Over in Vermillion Parish, Louisiana, Deputy Sheriff Allen Bares was gunned down by two men June 23, 2014. Deputy Bares was white. His two killers, Quintlan Richard and Baylon Taylor were black. Was President Obama outraged or could Deputy Sheriff Bares could have looked like a relative? Did Eric Holder rush to Louisiana to make sure that the family of Deputy Bares found justice -- nah he was too busy suing Louisiana over their school voucher program.

From the viral piece:

Vermillion Parish Deputy Sheriff Allen Bares was gunned down by two men June 23, 2014 in Louisiana. Deputy Bares was white. His two killers, Quintlan Richard and Baylon Taylor were black. Was Obama outraged? Did Eric Holder rush to Louisiana to make sure that the family of Deputy Bares found justice?

West replicated typos from the viral piece. Vermilion Parish is spelled incorrectly, as is accused murderer Quintylan Richard's name.

West wrote of Detective Charles Dinwiddie:

My last duty station was Ft. Hood, Texas so I know this next area very well. Detective Charles Dinwiddie of the Killen, Texas Police Department was murdered on May 11, 2014 by Marvin Lewis Guy, a black male. Officer Dinwiddie was white. Was there any major coverage on the national news? Certainly, the white citizens of Killeen could have taken to the streets to loot and burn businesses -- but they did not.

From the viral piece:

Detective Charles Dinwiddie of the Killen, Texas Police Department was murdered on May 11, 2014 by Marvin Lewis Guy, a black male. Officer Dinwiddie was white. Do you recall seeing anything about that on the news? Certainly, the white citizens of Killeen didn't take to the streets to loot and burn businesses. Do you recall any mention of Obama or Holder here?

Despite writing he knows the "area very well," West misspells Killeen as "Killen." The viral piece does as well.

West wrote of Officer Kevin Jordan:

Lastly, back in my home state of Georgia, there is Officer Kevin Jordan of Griffin, Georgia Police Department. I remember going to the old Textile Bowl Classic between Clark College and Ft. Valley State College with my mom -- a Ft. Valley graduate. Well, Officer Jordan was gunned down on May 31, 2014. Officer Jordan was black, his killer, Michael Bowman was white. This was a white man murdering a black police officer. Did anyone hear about that?

From the viral piece:

Then, there is Officer Kevin Jordan of Griffin, Georgia Police Department. He was gunned down on May 31, 2014. Officer Jordan was black, his killer, Michael Bowman was white. This was a white man murdering a black police officer. Where was Jesse Jackson? Where was "The Reverend" Al Sharpton? Was there looting and burning on the streets of Griffin, Georgia? No, in fact, we don't recall hearing about this one in the news as well. Why?

West concluded the column by claiming, "I write this missive because I despise hypocrisy." He previously decried plagiarism by Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) in an October 14 post.

Posted In
Ethics
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
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Allen West
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