CJ Werleman Releases Plagiarism Nonpology


I recently wrote two blog pieces on Author CJ Werleman. The first detailed some deeply unethical methods of operating and the second revealed an apparent catalogue of plagiarism throughout his work. Prompted by these articles, Michael Luciano with the help of Peter Boghossian have done a great job of uncovering even more instances of plagiarism (14 more at last count1).

After days of lashing out, excuses and potentially libellous claims2 levelled at other public figures, Werleman has released what he understands to be an ‘apology’. You can read it in full here3, but I’ll detail below my initial thoughts regarding some of it.

“Since my recent appearance on the Young Turks Network, my criticism of Sam Harris’ position, as it specifically pertains to the main driver of terrorism led many of his ardent fans to attack me. I have no problem with that – I made myself fair game”

This is the first attempt to deceive. ‘Ardent fans’ didn’t ‘attack him’ because he criticised Harris’s position, they ‘attacked’ him because he invented it. I’d like CJ Werleman to reference what in Harris’s works justifies saying: “[Harris] Has already said, that [he] would support, possibly, a nuclear first-strike on the Arab world”. This sentence is particularly troubling given Werleman so casually interchanges the word ‘Islamist’ with ‘Arab’. Do keep an eye on that CJ.

“Rather than attack my argument, however, Harris’ most strident supporters, co-opted a campaign to discredit me, and thus, in turn, my argument against Harris. Again, as a public figure I am fair game”

Yes, before we get to the ‘apology’ part, be aware that CJ is actually the victim in all this, but he’s taking it on the chin like the good bloke he is.

“Now at this point I owe my readers, fans, and supporters a sincere and heart felt apology. Through a combination of sloppiness and laziness I have let you, myself, and Salon/Alternet down. Badly!”

Go on…

“From a total of 55 Salon/Alternet op-eds, totaling 65,000 words, a vetting process has revealed a half-dozen instances of paragraphs that should have been enclosed in quotations”

CJ is once again revealing he hasn’t the first idea what plagiarism means and how serious it is for someone in his line of ‘work’. It matters not how many words he has tapped out. One instance of plagiarism is one too many. Several, as catalogued, is simply a pattern of deeply unethical behaviour, worthy of expulsion from any reputable academic institution, or loss of employment from any reputable news outlet. CJ also keeps implying this is primarily due to not ‘enclosing’ the quotations he has used. There are some problems with this excuse that he should address:

  1. These are not actually ‘quotations’ as claimed, but in fact misquotation then, as every other word appears to have been altered. One need not ponder too long to formulate an explanation as to why this has been done.
  2. It only serves to quote paragraphs in your piece if you actually mention who it is you’re quoting. CJ did neither in several articles, further suggesting these were not quotes, but paragraphs purposely presented as CJ Werleman’s own writing.
  3. CJ continues to downplay this as a ‘half-dozen’ instances, wilfully ignoring the additional 14 instances that have been uncovered subsequently.

“By every definition of plagiarism, these instances meet that definition.”

First honest statement of the nonpology. Therefore Werleman is a serial plagiarist and this should be addressed by Salon, Alternet and Middle East Eye.

“…the only defense I can provide, for the other half-dozen instances, is I incorrectly believed that the data/statistics/facts I had presented in these respective pieces were made clear they weren’t my own data/stats/facts – for I had cited the actual respective studies in the half- dozen respective pieces.”

What about the additional 14 instances? And how is this even a ‘defense’?

“But it would make no sense to steal another’s work by referencing the actual study/author I was referring to in the actual piece itself”

Yet – here we are.  Also, several pieces did not reference the original study or author in the article.

“No doubt this has been a very public and humiliating experience, and a great lesson learned”

Colour me sceptical.  This was a great opportunity for a sincere mea culpa, which could have salvaged any lingering credibility.

Given CJ’s inability to take any responsibility for the actual transgressions, and a failure to address the seriousness and scale of this alleged plagiarism, I’d support any further attempts to put pressure on Salon4, Alternet5 & Middle East Eye6 to release an official statement.

  1. Now confirmed to be 14 additional instances
  2. Werleman publicly accused Sam Harris of plagiarism only to have said accusations dismantled with devastating precision here
  3. It seems given the negative response to this ‘nonpology’, Werleman has now deleted it
  4. CJ has removed his Salon credit from his Twitter bio.  He no longer appears to be a contributor and they have added notes/revisions to the related articles
  5. Alternet have shown the most integrity in this whole episode and have now removed CJ’s articles from their archive completely.  He no longer appears to be a contributor
  6. Middle East Eye continue to publish CJ Werleman’s work.  This speaks to their integrity as a news platform


  • As someone who had never heard of him before all this, you have convinced me he is a bonafide fraud.

  • Jon (@Bluemeanie72)

    Its seems an appropriate time to pinch a lyric from Morrissey from the classic Cemetery Gates by The Smiths
    “If you must write prose and poems the words you use should be your own don’t plagiarise or take on loan. There’s always someone, somewhere with a big nose, who knows who’ll trip you up and laugh when you fall”

  • I believe that it will be literally impossible for this man to get away with this.

    And thank you for all the great work you do not only on your blog/podcast, but mainly on this grave issue.

  • I have emailed Salon and Alternet urging them to release a public statement about Werleman’s clear pattern of plagiarism, and to discontinue their professional relationships with him. I would urge everyone else who reads this article to do the same. (I suggest email, not Twitter, as their Twitter accounts may be monitored.)

  • Wrote to Salon and Alternate about CJ and whether or not they would make a public statement to clarify these accusations.

    • Me too, but that was 3 days ago. No response or hint that my complaint was taken seriously or even received. Odd since they are essentially guilty of facilitating his plagiarism. You’d think any self respecting publication would spring into action if one of their contributors was implicated in such controversy. It is after all the deadliest of sins to commit in the publishing world, but I guess the American journalism school/publishing world are trying the American business school/investment banking model. No scruples? No problem, just ‘unlearn’ everything you know and take on our McNuggets version of ethics and fill in as you go..

  • This is what I wrote on Stephanie Cranson’s blog. It’s awaiting moderation. lol,

    James Mickelson
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    October 20, 2014 at 6:03 am

    Clearly CJ is behind this. I mean, how could you even know about this if you just joined twitter today? Did you hear about in on Facebook? Was your Facebook created today too?

  • I’d seen a little of this debate, wasn’t following too intently on Twitter but have the bigger picture thanks to the blog post notification e-mails that led me here. A couple of things to note. First, I am the Managing Director of a publishing company. I know a bit about this topic. Second, it’s already very well established but I will say for the record that this is indeed plagiarism and displays a serious lack of journalistic ability and ethics. Third, the actual reason why I am writing this comment, the e-mail exchange with Sam Harris struck me as being almost identical with an exchange I had with a former employee who plagiarised huge parts of a piece he had been involved in writing when he worked for me. The similarity between the two exchanges is quite uncanny, even down to the “I’m a good bloke really ;)” part!

    I think in both cases the root is an untrained person with a decent vocabulary but only moderate level of intelligence who genuinely didn’t think that what they were doing was wrong and from that they then dig themselves an even bigger hole when they refuse to back down. I hope that Werlemen doesn’t gain in any way from the attention he’s getting.

  • Who has time to write well?

    You too can have the same top-notch writing as a well-known author by following this quick and easy approach to literary excellence.

    First, start by being sloppy and lazy. Why spend hour upon hour crafting your own writing style and coming up with your own ideas when the Internet is at your beck and call? Remember, Google is your best friend.

    Once you’ve made Google your best friend, you’ll need to learn how to cut and paste the work of others. Why reinvent the wheel when technology is in your very own hands? Besides, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever get caught. Who has time to read these days—let alone investigate whether a writer has plagiarized? Now cutting and pasting can be a bit difficult at first, but in no time at all you’ll be able to lift copy quickly and powerfully with no trace whatsoever of your duplicity.

    Finally, and this is important, don’t be concerned with meaningless moral principles such as professional ethics. Remember, the ends justify the means. After a long day of copying and pasting, simply close your eyes and repeat this mantra over and over again: “The ends justify the means.”

    Remember, so long as you truly believe that the causes you fight for are right, then you are doing nothing wrong in being a plagiarist. Plagiarism is your second best friend.

  • When I saw C.J.’s appearance on The Young Turks, I was not surprised that he was a critic of Sam Harris — Sam rubs some people the wrong way and sometimes overstates his case — but it was pretty clear that C,J. was just making stuff up to slam him with. I’m glad to learn from you that my impression was correct. His more sensible criticisms seemed to be parroting Scott Atran, who he did not reference.

  • Alternet has removed his articles from their archive. I’m not holding my breath for Salon to do the same….

  • If *only* CJ Werleman had immediately apologized with the same professionalism, seriousness and sincerity that AlterNet did on Monday, he would have very likely salvaged some semblance of a writing career.

    Here’s the AlterNet apology:

    Dear Reader, it is with regret that we announce that frequent AlterNet author CJ Werleman was discovered to have failed to attribute text taken directly from other news and information sources. AlterNet takes allegations of plagiarism seriously, and has removed Werleman’s articles from our archives. Our apologies to the various sources and writers whose work was misappropriated in Werleman’s articles published on AlterNet.

  • CJ is a turd and a liar. He lied about what people said, he lied about poll results in muslim countries, and the list goes on. He is also a Muslim apologist which is dangerous the last thing we need is justifying Muslim actions these days

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  • How did sites such as this determine that CJ was a plagiarist? I think you’ve done a wonderful job demonstrating his plagiarism, but I’m just wondering how you found the sources of his plagiarized lines? I ask because I’d like to be able to keep an eye out in the future when I’m reading. One author I used to read, Hedges, did the same thing, and just by reading his work, I wouldn’t have known where he got his un-cited material from.

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