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Did Times‘ Kristof Steal War Nerd’s Dick Cheney Iranian Mole Column?

kristof_cheney.jpg

That’s what Gary Brecher — a.k.a the “War Nerd” — wants to know. Brecher fired off a letter to the New York Times accusing op-ed columnist and world-weary traveler Nick Kristof of plagiarizing a March 6 column in which Brecher alleged “more or less ironically” that Dick Cheney is an Iranian mole.

On March 20, the Times published Kristof’s column, “Iran’s Operative in the White House,” with “Is Dick Cheney an Iranian mole?” as its subtitle. [For those of you without TimesSelect, here's a link to Kristof's full column.]

“Kristoff [sic] could have done the decent thing and cited my column,” Brecher wrote. “Instead he claimed the Cheney-as-Iranian-mole idea as his own.”

FishbowlNY combed through both columns and found no direct evidence of lifted text but, as Brecher points out, the mole “idea” no doubt appeared in his column first:

So far, Iran has been the big winner in this war, and they haven’t fired a shot or lost a man. Pretty incredible. Makes me dizzy to think of it, makes me wonder if Cheney isn’t actually a mole.

Kristof:

But in fact there’s an American who has provided services of incalculably greater value to Iran in recent years. So you have to wonder: Is Dick Cheney an Iranian mole?

“Dozens of my readers have written to me to call this brazen theft to my attention,” Brecher continued. “I expect the NYT to publish an acknowledgment of this plagiarism, with an apology by Kristoff [sic]. My agent informs me that he has a history of such theft, so he should be familiar with the drill.”

E-mails to the Kristof and the Times seeking a response have yet to be returned. UPDATE: New York Times spokesperson Diane McNulty denies any plagiarism:

Nick Kristof never saw the blogger’s posting before writing his column, and there plainly is no “plagiarism.” The blogger used the term “mole” in regards to Cheney once deep in a posting about the partitioning of Iraq. Nick wrote a column about how various policies of the Bush administration have benefited Iran and used the “mole” idea thematically throughout the piece. Where’s the plagiarism?

Brecher’s full memo:

—–Original Message—–
From: Gary Brecher
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 9:35 PM
To: REDACTED
Subject: Here’s what I sent to the NY Times

To Whom It May Concern:

I, Gary Brecher, aka “The War Nerd,” would like to bring to your attention a case of plagiarism by your columnist N. Kristoff. My column, “The War Nerd,” is a widely read online commentary on military history and contemporary war news. I’ve been featured by nearly every major outlet, including such ideologically opposing sites as Fox and AlterNet, interviewed by UPI, and blogged by thousands of sites. My column gets millions of unique hits per month.
On March 6, 2007, I wrote a column alleging, more or less ironically,
that Dick Cheney is an Iranian mole. Here’s a link to that column:

http://www.exile.ru/2007-March-06/war_nerd.html

One month later, your columnist Kristoff wrote a column called, “Is Dick Cheney an Iranian Mole?” Kristoff could have done the decent thing and cited my column. Instead he claimed the Cheney-as-Iranian-mole idea as his own.

Dozens of my readers have written to me to call this brazen theft to my attention. I expect the NYT to publish an acknowledgment of this plagiarism, with an apology by Kristoff. My agent informs me that he has a history of such theft, so he should be familiar with the drill.

Yours,
Gary Brecher, aka “The War Nerd”

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