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Birther King Corsi Again Accused of Plagiarism

By Leah Nelson on January 3, 2012 - 2:01 pm, Posted in Uncategorized

Between refining his farcical anti-Obama “birther” conspiracy theory, fear-mongering about a nonexistent planned merger between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, and groundlessly declaring that oil is not derived from living things and is therefore an infinite resource, right-wing attack dog Jerome Corsi is one busy dude.

The weight of these responsibilities seems to have become too much for the poor dear, who has reportedly compromised his normally impeccable ethics with a bit of plagiarism. On Dec. 19, Corsi published in WorldNetDaily (WND) an “exclusive” article titled “Obama’s legacy of broken promises – in Kenya.” Purportedly based on the results of a long-term research project headed by an unnamed former member of the Kenyan parliament, the article details Obama’s failure to come through on financial promises the president allegedly made to the Kenyan government, including the donation of money to improve the village in which his Kenyan relatives live.

Thing is, much of the “exclusive” reporting was apparently ripped off from prominent news sources, including a 2008 article from the London Evening Standard and a 2011 piece from Agence France-Press, the French wire service. The accusations of plagiarism were first raised by Barackryphal, a blog touting itself as “a skeptic’s guide to birtherism,” whose producers illustrated evidence of Corsi’s plagiarism in a helpful color-coded guide denoting which material was stolen from which source.

Much of the cribbed material is specifically credited to WND’s team of anonymous Kenyan researchers, while only three pieces of information are attributed to their proper source, the 2008 Evening Standard piece. (In case you were wondering why Corsi didn’t go to Kenya himself to track down some anti-Obama dirt, recall that the indefatigable birther in 2008 was deported from that country for failing to have proper authorization to undertake his investigation into supposed “details of secret deep ties” between Obama and certain Muslim politicians in Kenya.)

Barackryphal reports that Corsi failed to respond meaningfully to its queries about his sources, claiming that the WND-commissioned report is “proprietary” and declining to answer specific questions about when the alleged investigation took place or what other stories the supposed Kenyan source has contributed to. Yet the revelation of plagiarism apparently didn’t go unnoticed at the WND bunker: An editor’s note added to the top of the story says, “The following article is based on a paid, 8,000-word report by Kenyan researchers commissioned by WND. Unknown to WND, the report included unattributed references to a July 25, 2008, story by the Evening Standard of London. WND included a link to the 2008 story to back up the claims of the report, which WND believed was original. WND regrets the error.”

If this is true, it means that when preparing his article Corsi somehow failed to notice that the Evening Standard reporter had access to the exact same quotes as Corsi’s unnamed Kenyan source and in many cases mysteriously used identical language in the explanatory material that fills out the rest of the story. WND’s editorial note makes no mention of the content apparently burgled from Agence France-Press.

This isn’t the first time Corsi has been accused of plagiarism. In 2006, far-right blogger Debbie Schlussel accused him of copying parts of her columns and using them under his byline, noting that he had even replicated a typo in her original work. In one of the few Schlussel declarations with which Hatewatch is ever likely to agree, she wrote, “If he’s going to rip people off, he can at least get it right and not rip off my original mistakes.” WND appears to have since taken down the article in question.

Corsi made the reverse error in his latest article, Barackryphal points out; he misspelled the last name of one of the individuals whose quote he appears to have cribbed from Agence France-Presse’s 2011 article. In a follow-up post, Barackryphal also highlights numerous other (slightly less egregious) instances of apparent uncredited borrowing by WND columnists.

And so, it seems, WND and Corsi have no problem making up news to suit their far-right agenda but seemingly can’t generate adequate original material to back up the true stories they might wish to tell. In their through-the-looking-glass world of forged birth certificates, creeping Shariah, gay Nazis, and potential antichrists, that just about makes sense.

  • CM

    OilyBird,

    The abiogenic theory of petroleum formation that you cite is upheld by only a tiny minority of geologists and is based on little that resembles scientific evidence. In other words, it’s a fringe theory, even if you have some vague recollection of seeing it mentioned in Science or hearing it discussed on NPR. In fact, the likeliest place to see it presented as fact is in conspiracy-theorist and “hard currency” circles, which is why it’s no surprise to see Corsi embracing it.

  • Gary D. Williams

    “The two theories of abiogenic formation of hydrocarbons, the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins and Thomas Gold’s deep gas theory, have been considered in some detail.[F]ormation of higher hydrocarbons in the upper layers of the Earth’s crust occurs only as a result of Fischer-Tropsch-type reactions in the presence of hydrogen gas but is otherwise not possible on thermodynamic grounds. This theory is therefore invalid. Both theories have been overtaken by the increasingly sophisticated understanding of the modes of formation of hydrocarbon deposits in nature.”
    RESOURCE GEOLOGY, vol. 56, no. 1, 85–98, 200685 Abiogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons: An Historical Overview Geoffrey P. GLASBY

  • OilyBird

    Actually, despite the term “fossil fuels”, it appears that most petroleum is not derived from the decomposition of “living things” but from chemical processes involving heat and high pressure created in the depths of the Earth in the presence of certain compounds. While these compounds may be present where there was a lot of biomass, it turns out that the biomass itself is probably not where the majority of petroleum comes from. I remember seeing articles on this in the journal SCIENCE and hearing interviews about this on NPR’s “Science Friday” a few years back.

    Having said that, this does not mean that oil is an infinite resource; the time for it to be produced is millions of years, and we have the potential to use all that is currently present in a couple hundred.

    Surely, Corsi is an idiot who can’t get his facts straight . . . but in this case, he may have been about one thing that SPLC may have gotten wrong.

  • Larry

    I was born and raised in the South so you can say I know something about Racism. I have never seen anything, EVER, in my 64 years on earth that comes close to these people. The REALITY of President Obama is just more than their small and very closed minds can deal with so they invent these outlets to justify their actions and beliefs.

  • Ryan

    Dear America,

    Please understand and accept these three simple and incontrovertible facts about Obama:

    1) He is NOT a Kenyan;
    2) He is NOT a Muslim, and most obvious of all;
    3) HE IS NOT A DAMN SOCIALIST.

    Signed,
    Europe.

  • CM

    For some reason, this item reminds me of the Radio Swaziland reporter whose live-from-Iraq accounts of the war turned out to have been broadcast from a broom closet in the station’s studios in Swaziland. Only in this case, Corsi seems to be the one who stayed in the closet, surfing the Evening Standard and AFP on his laptop or whatever. (At least, that seems the likeliest scenario to me.)