NPR : News

Filed Under:

How Long Must Rand Paul Stay In 'Detention' For Plagiarism?

If you were a high-profile politician caught plagiarizing, would you:

  • A) Say something like "my bad," apologize profusely, promise to sin no more and quietly move on, hoping reporters would do likewise? Or ...
  • B) Acknowledge that mistakes were made, then lash out at the news media?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has been going with the second option lately.

In an interview with the National Review's Robert Costa published Wednesday, the senator owned up to borrowing liberally from the work of others for his speeches and op-ed pieces. (The Washington Times on Tuesday said it was dropping his weekly column as a result.)

But then Paul once again tried turning the tables on the journalists who have hounded him for publishing pieces under his name or giving speeches that used lengthy passages of others' words without any attribution.

"I'm being criticized for not having proper attribution, and yet they are able to write stuff that if I were their journalism teacher in college, I would fail them," Paul told Costa. That was building on his comment from the weekend about "hacks and haters" he wishes he could duel.

That hypothetical seems a little awkward — someone who's admitting to plagiarism imagining himself a journalism teacher. But let's move along.

Paul seemed particularly peeved by reporting on a speech he gave at Liberty University in Virginia last October. Journalists didn't accurately convey the theme of his speech so far as he was concerned, which explains the journalism-teacher gibe he aimed at the media.

The senator, who appears to be preparing for a run at the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, also mused: "I feel like if I could just go to detention after school for a couple days, then everything would be OK. But do I have to be in detention for the rest of my career?"

If Vice President Biden's career is any guide, the answer to that would be no. Paul might take some comfort from how Biden was able to rehabilitate himself after revelations emerged during the 1988 presidential campaign that he had repeatedly plagiarized other politicians.

It's proof positive that plagiarism is certainly not a political career-ender.

Paul has seen in his own family how a politician can get past controversy about writings attached to his name. Ron Paul, the former Republican congressman from Texas and the senator's father, came under fire for newsletters published under his name that contained racist, anti-gay and anti-Semitic statements.

The elder Paul distanced himself from the objectionable material by saying someone else wrote it and, beyond that, claimed he didn't even know about it until someone pointed it out to him.

Which leads to this irony: Assuming you accept the elder Paul's explanation, both father and son got in trouble for words they didn't write.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'The End of the Tour' Offers A Hint Of David Foster Wallace's Inner Struggle

A new film revisits a five-day interview that took place between writer David Foster Wallace and a reporter for Rolling Stone in 1996. Critic David Edelstein calls it a "very good movie."
NPR

Coffee Art: When A Spill Turns Into A Masterpiece

Ever splashed yourself with coffee? Then you know its staining powers. But where some see a ruined shirt, others have found a canvas.
NPR

Meet The California Family That Has Made Health Policy Its Business

On Medicare's 50th birthday, two brothers who helped get it off the ground tell their stories. A younger member of the Lee family is at the helm of Covered California, the state insurance exchange.
NPR

Debris Found In The Indian Ocean May Be From Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Investigators are studying a piece of debris found on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. They believe it could be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014. NPR has more about the debris, and what it could tell us about the missing airplane.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.