September 22, 2014

"For the 2nd time in 4 days, Democrat Mary Burke's campaign has been hit by charges that it lifted passages from other sources and used them in its campaign literature."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice passes along material "turned up by Republican Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and made available to No Quarter and BuzzFeed." I don't trust the Sentinel to dig into anything that might help Scott Walker, but Walker's campaign was smart enough to say that it was sending the same material to Buzzfeed, which ran a big story last Thursday — based on its own investigation — "Wisconsin Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Fires Campaign Consultant For Large Portions Of Copied Jobs Plan." There's web traffic to consider, along with whatever is left these days of a journalistic conscience.

After the Buzzfeed revelations, apparently the Walker campaign went looking for more of the same, which is clever. Everyone should be running that plagiarism software on all the other side's literature... and on their own, because you'd better be careful about using this kind of attack if you have any vulnerability. Here's how Bice describes what Walker's campaign found:
The material includes two Burke plans — one on rural communities and the other veterans issues — that include passages from several websites as well as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's "Plan to Create Wisconsin Jobs," which he used during his 2010 campaign for governor. There are seven instances of disputed material. Most of the material is less than a paragraph long, and in some cases, fragments of sentences. In four cases, the Burke documents cited the other online material but did not place the borrowed passages in quotes. All in all, the seven passages are not as substantial or egregious as the unattributed use of language by Burke's jobs plan. But a top Walker aide was still ready to pounce....
The copying was not that bad. Not as bad as that other stuff anyway. And Walker is mean: He's pouncing. Bice is, as usual, eager to help the Democratic Party candidate. The Walker aide made the obvious argument, that there's a pattern — "a disturbing pattern of intellectual dishonesty."

Bice contacted Burke, who hadn't seen the new material:
But she did note that Eric Schnurer — the consultant who has taken the hit for the purloined passages in her jobs plan — also worked on her 25-page rural plan, "Invest in Our Rural Communities." Her campaign cut ties with Schnurer late last week.

"I don't think it should be any surprise that we are drawing on best practices and ideas that have worked elsewhere," Burke said. "But in no circumstances should there be the same wording around those."
It must be Schnurer again, Mary muses, then, thinking out loud and a little carelessly, adding that anything lifted should have been reworded. (That seems to say: You get caught when you use verbatim passages.)

I wonder if Schnurer will ever fight back. His professional reputation is getting ravaged, but defending himself would require attacking the candidate, and attacking his own candidate would also hurt his reputation. Maybe he'll keep silent until after the election and decide what to do when he sees whether Burke wins or loses. Has Bice or Buzzfeed tried to talk to Schnurer? If he's refusing to speak, is that a completely independent decision? I'd like to know.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

Through Althouse I know more about Wisconsin's politics then I do about my home state of Washington's. Of course, when I do follow Washington politics I am, by turns, depressed and outraged. I'm sticking with Wisconsin. Depressing and outrageous, but at a more comfortable distance.

Anonymous said...

(than not then)

Roger Sweeny said...

What would be much more useful would be to look back at all the "plans" that successful gubernatorial candidates have published, and compare them to what the the governor then actually does.

I suspect there will be a lot of difference.

Should we really care what is in a candidate's "plan," any more than we should care about what is in a national party's "platform?"

Peter said...

It's hard not to see Bice as (D) Bice; I also read the article as an attempt to minimize and explain-away Burke's problem.

Bice writes as though he's Burke's agent, and the Journal-Sentinel's editors should have the good sense to assign others to the story. Assuming they can find any who are less openly biased than Bice, of course.

Burke is not an academic or a writer, and so plagiarism as such doesn't seem all that awful. Surely we know that many politicians have had books ghost-written.

But Burke does come across as a lightweight, as someone who doesn't much care about or pay attention to even major policy issues and so can't be bothered to produce anything better than a scrapbook filled with scraps of old hackwork.

damikesc said...

Bice --- JOURNALIST!

Totally serious. He is totally a journalist, or something.

Why is his article called "No Quarter"? Because you won't buy him with loose change.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I realize I am showcasing ignorance but I, being honest now as opposed to many comments, don't understand why you writing "Walker is mean" isn't plagiarism.

Surely we know others have written that before so why can you write it without attribution? Because it is a general statement?

What if you wrote "Walker is insanely mean" and that was proven to have been written by someone else before? Is the "insane" enough to make the line original and therefore capable of being plagiarized?

If that still doesn't count as a line that could be potential plagiarism if proven to have been written previously, what about "Walker is clearly insanely mean and unhinged?"

garage mahal said...

Most of the material is less than a paragraph long, and in some cases, fragments of sentences

Yea, the race is really super close, so if you would get out of the race that would be great. Thanks.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"All of the following are considered plagiarism:

turning in someone else's work as your own

copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit

failing to put a quotation in quotation marks

giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation

changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit

copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on "fair use" rules)"

I am too unsophisticated to understand this modern world.

I have probably only seen a few hundred ways to structure a sentence, therefore according to Merriam Webster almost every sentence I have ever read or written is plagiarism for having copied the sentence structure but changed the words.

Bob Ellison said...

This doesn't smell right.

Is the issue that Burke's sayings and writings borrow from other left-wing sources?

That's not a serious issue. Did I miss something?

I do not follow WI politics closely, so maybe I'm way off base.

glenn said...

(D)

m stone said...

Ghostwriting and plagiarism are different.

Ghostwritten material is generated by someone working with a person who allows that person to take credit---a working relationship. Material need only be sourced if it is published secondary material, the property of someone else.

Ghostwriters abound but plagiarists are thieves. Schnurer stole for Burke and Burke gets the heat. Rightfully.

Bob Ellison said...

Political writings are among the greatest works of literature, comparable to Shakespeare and Homer, so it's a terrible act to fail to attribute sources properly.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

"#5. Recycle

Borrows generously from the writer’s previous work without citation"

This is a link causing more confusion than clarity.

Original Mike said...

"...along with whatever is left these days of a journalistic conscience."

Althouse made a funny.

Bob Ellison said...

"Expanding intern programs to provide help to small farmers and also give students direct agricultural education and experience."

It's like music! There really should be a federal investigation into stealing copyright.

Mark said...

Stuart Taylor lies, but all is forgiven. Mary Burke copies political platform stuff no one ever reads, biggest scandal ever.

Walker really is desperate, because this attack is both weak and total inside baseball. The Walker camps version of Jphn Doe hysteria.

Matt said...

Me and my friends are laughing our asses off. Whites have been culturally plagiarizing the works of Blacks for millions of years and no one cares. But a white lady steals bad ideas from a white dude and suddenly everybody cares.

It's all tortoises up in here.

Birkel said...

I think the defenses mounted here by the Leftists are weaker than those offered by the conservatives. What is is that Leftists are incapable of logic and reason?

Original Mike said...

Stuart Taylor lied?

m stone said...

The real solution for Burke was to write simply "I endorse a plan that includes...This (part) worked (here) and (here)."

The problem, other than ego is finding the "heres." for a dem.

PB Reader said...

HBS grads aren't intellectual heavyweights. They're networkers, achievers, collaborators, but individual thinkers? Not so much.

garage mahal said...

That's not a serious issue. Did I miss something?

Start here.

Bob Ellison said...

garage mahal, I'm not looking for more inside-baseball discussion.

I'm probably on your side. My question is: what really did Burke do that was wrong?

From the outside, it seems like slinging mud without any mud around.

WhoKnew said...

The cries of plagiarism are overwrought and mainly just politics. The criticism that matters and should stick to our Miss Burke is that, to quote Walker here: " This isn't just a campaign flier," he said. "This was a document that she told all of you in the press and the voters of this state was the centerpiece of her campaign. In fact, she not only mentioned that but she made a big deal to point out that this was because of her Harvard Business School experience that she had the expertise to put a plan like this together". That it turns out to be meaningless talking points stitched together by a campaign consultant discredits what a few weeks ago she said was one of her main claims to be better than the incumbent.

Lance said...

"I don't think it should be any surprise that we are drawing on best practices and ideas that have worked elsewhere," Burke said.

Wasn't much of this material lifted from losing campaigns? According to the Buzzfeed article, Schnurer cribbed material from Ward Cammack, Tennessee Governor 2009, Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Governor, 2009, John Gregg, Indiana Governor, 2012, who all lost their campaigns. He also lifted from Markell of Delware in 2008, who won. And he boosted material from a White House press report AND a "Harvard" report.

Sure wish we had a real reporter somewhere who would follow up and ask where and when any of these policies have worked, and why they would work in Wisconsin.

Michael said...

"Best practices" my ass. These "best practices"' have been employed failingly for forty years or more.

HaHaHa. A term like "best practices" is dated bullshit corporate-speak. She would not have started a winning bicycle company on her own, she would not have created a losing bicycle company on her own and she would never have been hired by a bicycle company of any description on her own.

We have seen incompetents pose as big thinkers and we have seen where it has gotten us.

I find Wisconsin politics very amusing and one of the draws of the Althouse blog is that people discuss Wisconsin politics in serious, even angry, tones. Very funny from the outside in.

The morphing of secret servers to secret routers is worth a lifetime of chuckles.

David said...

This latest is small potatoes, or would be if it were not for the history. But neither incident would be very impactful if it did not reinforce what many already believe or suspect about Burke. She's an unaccomplished lightweight whose career (and increasingly her campaign) show no particular aptitude or qualification for being governor.

Fen said...

WhoKnew: The criticism that matters and should stick to our Miss Burke is that, to quote Walker here: " This isn't just a campaign flier," he said. "This was a document that she told all of you in the press and the voters of this state was the centerpiece of her campaign. In fact, she not only mentioned that but she made a big deal to point out that this was because of her Harvard Business School experience that she had the expertise to put a plan like this together".

That it turns out to be meaningless talking points stitched together by a campaign consultant discredits what a few weeks ago she said was one of her main claims to be better than the incumbent.


^^^ This. Nicely done.

So much for her Ha-vard Business School.

traditionalguy said...

Intellectual dishonesty is how you spell Democrat. The best delusion is now all that matters in a world re-educated to believe Liberal narratives are real.

It is unfair of Walker to hold this Woman's feet to the fire over her lying style. But no one has been fair to Walker since he spoke the truth in public.

mccullough said...

Bice should cover the Packers. Their fans need to be bolstered with excuses even more than Burke's campaign.

Scott M said...

Intellectual dishonesty is how you spell Democrat.

When most of your worldview disregards human nature, how can it be otherwise?

Original Mike said...

"Bice should cover the Packers."

With his track record, you suggest he cover something important? No thanks.

BarrySanders20 said...

Mary Mary, quite contrary
How has your platform grown?
With stolen signs and pilfered lines,
And pretty text not all your own.

SteveR said...

I would gather most people who are interested enough to know or care about the details of this situation, have long ago made their decision. Meanwhile the background noise works against Burke.

Bobber Fleck said...

From SteveR: "I would gather most people who are interested enough to know or care about the details of this situation, have long ago made their decision. Meanwhile the background noise works against Burke."

In a very close race this may create the margin of victory.

From WhoKnew: The criticism that matters and should stick to our Miss Burke is that, to quote Walker here: " This isn't just a campaign flier," he said. "This was a document that she told all of you in the press and the voters of this state was the centerpiece of her campaign. In fact, she not only mentioned that but she made a big deal to point out that this was because of her Harvard Business School experience that she had the expertise to put a plan like this together".

Walker is a very smart man with good political instincts. He framed that statement perfectly.

MikeR said...

"This was a document that she told all of you in the press and the voters of this state was the centerpiece of her campaign. In fact, she not only mentioned that but she made a big deal to point out that this was because of her Harvard Business School experience that she had the expertise to put a plan like this together."
This is an interesting claim. What is the evidence for it? Do we have a direct quote or something from Burke?
For example, if there is a video of Burke showing off "her plan", I think the Walker campaign could make a lovely No Comment advertisement showing Burke speaking twice: her original statement followed by her statement that it was all by someone else.

richlb said...

Mary, blame it on Daniel Inouye.

EMD said...

She could've just claimed it was all satire and she'd be in the clear.

Scott M said...

Actually, all of the necessary citations and footnotes were included on the original document that Eric Schnurer turned in. However, he emailed them to mutual friend Lois Lerner, so...

Curious George said...

"Mark said...
Stuart Taylor lies..."

Yes, we have proof that he lied about Chisholm...from Chisholm's lawyer, and Chisholm's brother in law, and also Dan Bice said so.

Mark said...

When Stuart Taylor called him a "longtime Chisholm subordinate" and "former staff prosecutor in Chisholm’s office" that was the full truth?

Staff prosecutor and long-time subordinate, for half a year of paper pushing and zero prosecutorial cases?

garage mahal said...

Walker think poor people peeing in cups creates jobs. That's funnier than anything Burke's jobs plan.

Original Mike said...

"Weak sauce", Mark.

garage mahal said...

Staff prosecutor and long-time subordinate, for half a year of paper pushing and zero prosecutorial cases?

So "long time" means a few months and "prosecutor" means not a prosecutor. That's not quite doing it for me. Got anything else?

Chef Mojo said...

All I know is that what Burke did would have gotten her expelled from the University of Virginia. Or the Naval Academy. Or West Point. Or any institution that takes honor and honesty seriously. Plagiarism is lying, and those with a sense of honor do not tolerate it. That people on this thread seem to be quite willing to minimize plagiarism is indicative of how low our standards have dropped as a society.

Skeptical Voter said...

I'm certainly not a Mary Burke fan. Of course I live in California so how the wrasslin' match in Wisconsin between the liberal establishment and the rogue conservative governor ends up is small potatoes in my world.

But we might all step back--there are, generally speaking two competing political philosophies in this country. The competing philosophies have been set forth time and again--typically by people who are not politicians. (Politicians have too much else on their plate "Get me elected!" to bother their pretty little heads about thinking philosophies through).

So is it surprising that a probably not too bright lightweight like Mary Burke hires a political hack, and tells him "go shop for ideas on the left wing shelves in the political grocery store"? He comes back with his shopping list of previously stated ideas, and puts a campaign package together.

Now what's interesting here (although it has happened time and again with politicians--see Slow Joe Biden and others) is that Mary Burke had the chutzpah to claim that she thought all those things up herself.

I'm trying to recall the last genuinely original idea I heard a politician express--and I'm at a total loss.

Original Mike said...

There are no new ideas. A (probably apocryphal) story told to me by an elderly scientist when I was young involved a paper presented at a research conference. After the presentation was over, an elderly man stood up in the audience and addressed the speaker. "That approach was stupid when we did it back in 1940, and it's still stupid today."

Anonymous said...

I'm glad the focus is on Bice, rather than on his paper.

It makes more sense when Bice writes these things to say Bice wrote. Rather than saying the paper said, etc.

Bice is the partisan here and he needs to be called out for it.

Patrick said...

Nice to see Garage and Mark bowing to the almighty power of the Party. Those whistle blowers need to be shown who runs the show in Milwaukee! Fortunately a few lies and half truths by Dan Bice should ensure that no one will mess with the Party.

garage mahal said...

"Whistleblower"

LOL

PackerBronco said...

But she did note that Eric Schnurer — the consultant who has taken the hit for the purloined passages in her jobs plan — also worked on her 25-page rural plan, "Invest in Our Rural Communities.

That explains the 6 pages about palm trees and increasing our state's production of coconuts. I was wondering about that ...

PackerBronco said...

Blogger garage mahal said...
Walker think poor people peeing in cups creates jobs.

9/22/14, 11:13 AM


He's just trying to find a job that you can handle GM.

Mountain Maven said...

The question is: Do Wisc. voters want a governor who not only plagiarizes but then rationalizes the dishonesty?

Alex said...

How close is Walker to fulfilling his promise of 250K new jobs in 4 years?

Alex said...

Mary Burke will magically create 250K new jobs.

garage mahal said...

He's just trying to find a job that you can handle GM.

I think Walker needs to piss test people that he surrounds himself with first. Not Grade A people by all appearances.

Fen said...

"Whistleblower"

garage mahal: LOL


True colors.