TVNewser FishbowlDC AgencySpy TVSpy LostRemote PRNewser SocialTimes AllFacebook 10,000 Words GalleyCat UnBeige MediaJobsDaily

Does Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone Piece on Michele Bachmann Qualify as Plagiarism?

According to Poynter, Matt Taibbi‘s  just-posted Rolling Stone piece on Michele Bachmann “borrowed liberally” from a 2006 City Pages cover story written by G.R. Anderson. City Pages writes that Abe Sauer at the Awl called Rolling Stone out in a “point-by-point comparison and got Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates to admit he had deleted several ‘according to City Pages’ references. Bates promised to add link backs into the electronic version of the story, which he did.”

But Anderson, the original author of the story, wants an apology. “I would never want to get anybody fired,” Anderson told City Pages. “But I do want credit where credit is due.” Anderson is currently a journalism professor at the University of Minnesota J-School, and he did say that while he “would not consider what the Rolling Stone contained in it to be plagiarism. That is for other people to decide… [but] I do know that if a student handed in a story with that particular lack of sourcing, not only would I give it an ‘F,’ I would probably put that student on academic fraud.”

This is one example of the sort of liberal borrowing in Taibbi’s piece from Sauer’s comparison between the two at the Awl:

City Pages, 2006:

‘I came in wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and moccasins, and I had no makeup on at all,’ the story quotes Bachmann as saying. ‘I had not one piece of literature, I had made not one phone call, and spent not five cents and I did not solicit a vote.’

Rolling Stone:

‘I came in wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and moccasins, and I had no makeup on at all,’ she said. ‘I had made not one phone call, and spent not five cents, and I did not solicit a vote.’

Sauer notes the fact that this “particular City Pages profile is sure to be one of the most-borrowed texts of the upcoming election cycle. (The Daily Beast June 15th profile of Marcus Bachmann was noble enough to cite it.)” In the interview with City Pages, Anderson speculates why he thinks this sort of borrowing now occurs even for major profiles written by journalists:

And I think that perhaps what has happened to Taibbi is that he’s being encouraged to be the new gonzo that [Jann Wenner, the publisher] romanticizes and those days are over. I don’t think either one of the them realizes it. The differences between Taibbi and Dr. Thompson is that Thompson went to get a story–he went places–he didn’t write it from fucking Jann Wenner’s fucking couch. You couldn’t find Thompson for months, because he was working on a story. Clearly, this Bachmann piece shows the difference quite clearly, between Taibbi and Hunter S. Thompson–which is vast. The longer Taibbi chases it with rhetoric and no reporting, he’s going to lose.

Mediabistro Course

Travel Writing

Travel WritingStarting September 23, learn how to turn your travel stories into published essays and articles! Taught by a former Vanity Fair staff writer, James Sturz will teach you how to report, interview, and find sources, discover story ideas and pitch them successfully, and understand what travel editors look for in a story. Register now!