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!”
“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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Now confirmed to be 14 additional instances ↩
- Werleman publicly accused Sam Harris of plagiarism only to have said accusations dismantled with devastating precision here ↩
- It seems given the negative response to this ‘nonpology’, Werleman has now deleted it ↩
- 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 ↩
- 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 ↩
- Middle East Eye continue to publish CJ Werleman’s work. This speaks to their integrity as a news platform ↩