The Morality of the Anti-Trump Elite
George Neumayr
by

The dominant media spends day after day accusing Trump of this or that “lie.” It puts the worst possible construction on his every utterance. Meanwhile, the high priests of that media get caught out in plagiarism scandals and the like and never pay the slightest price for those acts of brazen dishonesty.

Fareed Zakaria is a well-documented plagiarist, but CNN has no qualms about giving him a show from which to attack Trump’s integrity from every conceivable angle. Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who often lacerates Trump for not owning up to his deceptions, has published a book, titled ironically Merchants of Truth, that contains multiple plagiarisms which she refuses to admit.

One wonders if Abramson’s public denials of plagiarism amount to saying: I didn’t borrow these passages nearly word for word from other sources; my ghostwriter did. If that is the real explanation, she hasn’t given it yet. So far she will only admit to errors in “citation,” as if she properly attributed the passages in the text but she failed to cite the sources accurately in the end notes. In fact, she didn’t attribute the passages in the text at all, which meets the textbook definition of plagiarism, as one of the victims of her theft, Mathew Ingram, notes:

It’s an odd feeling to have an otherwise unremarkable passage you wrote appear as an exhibit in an accusation of plagiarism, especially when it relates to the former executive editor of The New York Times, and especially when the allegedly plagiarized passages appear in a book about the state of modern media. And yet, here we are….

I’m glad to hear Abramson is planning to fix her citations and/or quote certain passages that were originally unquoted. Is there a fine line in some cases when it comes to what qualifies as plagiarism? Definitely. We’ve likely all been guilty of cutting and pasting a sentence or two here or there when we were in a hurry. But some of the examples referred to above seem to go far beyond a simple slip of the keyboard — they are rewritten, but not very much, and some are not given any credit at all. That’s not the kind of thing one would expect from someone of Abramson’s caliber.

Abramson is using her own private, self-serving definition of plagiarism to say that she didn’t plagiarize, and is enlisting other members of the elite media in her con. Bill Keller, her predecessor at the New York Times, has also cast her textbook acts of plagiarism as mere acts of inadequate citation. He took to Twitter to say that he finds it “distressing that some apparent carelessness in attribution might overshadow her achievement.”

Were the New York Times to find in one of Trump’s books whole paragraphs taken from others and presented as his own, it would cry plagiarism in a second. But Abramson can count on powerful members of the media to run interference for her. The club to which she belongs is too invested in its own myths to holds its members accountable. What it considers “brave” is holding the National Enquirer accountable.

Jeff Bezos has been heralded for “standing up” to a publication that people already hated and always knew had no standards. Bezos is the latest Washington Post publisher to be extolled for pushing on an open door. Maybe Hollywood can turn his “brave” fight with the National Enquirer into a sequel to its tribute to Kay Graham for defying the already unpopular and weakened Richard Nixon.

Bezos’s real feat is that he has managed to get people to talk exclusively about what we already knew — the sleaziness of the National Enquirer — while ignoring his own sleaziness. Washington has spent months tut-tutting Trump over the Stormy Daniels affair. But it is completely indifferent to the revelation that the publisher of one of the largest newspapers in the country and a supposed pillar of civic life is engaging in behavior similar to Anthony Weiner’s.

A publisher who cheated on his wife and engaged in a sexting scandal might have suffered a loss of credibility in the past. Not anymore. From all the recent praise it would appear that Bezos’s credibility has been enhanced. The irony is that the National Enquirer normally victimizes people with false stories. In this case, they had a true one and were using it to try and influence the Post’s coverage, thus giving Bezos an opportunity to stand against such pressure. Bezos certainly understands the temper of the times about “revenge porn” and knew that he would be seen as a sympathetic victim.

Yet all these scandals of the anti-Trump elite have a deflating effect on its moral crusades against the president. How seriously can we take them? Members of the ruling class spend much of the day obsessing over Trump’s “vulgarity and dishonesty,” then the remainder of it immersing themselves in their own.

George Neumayr
George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.
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