Media continue to repeat plagiarism accusation without noting that Biden had previously credited Kinnock

››› ››› LILY YAN & DIANNA PARKER

Media outlets continue to report that Sen. Joe Biden was accused in 1987 of plagiarizing then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without noting that while Biden did paraphrase from a Kinnock speech without attribution on at least two occasions in August 1987, he had reportedly credited Kinnock when previously using the same language.

Media outlets continue to report that Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) was accused in 1987 of plagiarizing then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without noting that while Biden did paraphrase from a Kinnock speech without attribution on at least two occasions in August 1987, he had reportedly credited Kinnock when previously using the same language.

For instance, in an August 24 article, Washington Post staff writer Anne E. Kornblut reported that Sen. Barack Obama's selection of Biden as his vice-presidential running mate "does not come without risks. Accusations that he plagiarized then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock helped sink his presidential campaign in 1987." On its August 24 op-ed page, the Post also published an assessment of Biden by Rutgers University professor David Greenberg in which Greenberg stated of the Kinnock incident, "Biden stole autobiographical material, in effect making false claims about his own life." Biden did not attribute portions of a Kinnock speech that he paraphrased during an August 23, 1987, Democratic presidential primary debate, and during an August 26, 1987, interview for the National Education Association. But the Post itself reported in a September 13, 1987, article that "Biden and reporters covering his campaign said that in speeches before and after that debate the senator has given Kinnock credit for the same passionate rhetoric, which he has used repeatedly in recent weeks." Specifically, the Post reported that "John Quinlan, a reporter for the Sioux City Journal, said his notes showed Biden said he was quoting Kinnock when he used the same passage in a speech Aug. 14. Stories in The [New York] Times, The Boston Globe and other newspapers also said Biden had used the rhetoric and credited Kinnock for it."

In addition to Kornblut's Post article, the following articles and editorial noted that Biden was accused of plagiarizing Kinnock without noting that Biden had credited him previously:

  • An August 24 Dallas Morning News article compiled by John Riley from wire and Internet reports
  • An August 24 Des Moines Register article by Thomas Beaumont
  • An August 23 Chicago Tribune editorial
  • An August 23 McClatchy Newspapers article by David Lightman and Margaret Talev
  • An August 23 article on National Public Radio's website by correspondent Jennifer Ludden

By contrast, a separate August 24 Washington Post article by staff writers Eli Saslow and Amy Goldstein stated that "The New York Times reported that during a debate, Biden had plagiarized a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. Biden had used Kinnock's words in speeches before, always crediting him, but this time he didn't." Similarly, in an August 24 Chicago Tribune article, correspondents Mike Dorning and James Oliphant wrote that Biden's "campaign imploded after he quoted from a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock without crediting him, leading to charges of plagiarism (even though he had credited Kinnock in other speeches)."

As Media Matters for America has documented, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and the Associated Press also reported on the Kinnock allegations without noting that Biden had previously credited Kinnock, according to reports at the time.

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