Political Animal


October 15, 2011 8:30 AM Scott Brown’s plagiarism flap gets a little worse

By Steve Benen

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) didn’t have an especially good week. A day after he voted to kill a popular jobs bill, Brown’s website was found to have plagiarized a speech Elizabeth Dole delivered nearly a decade ago. In this case, the senator’s office lifted verbatim a large section of text about his upbringing, which turned out to be about Dole’s upbringing.

Brown initially blamed a summer intern for a technical mix-up, arguing that Dole’s website had served as a template for his own, and this was an inadvertent holdover. This did not explain, however, why two sentences from Dole’s speech — one about her parents’ names, and one about her husband — had been carefully removed from the copy-and-paste job.

Making matters slightly worse, a one-day story turned into a three-day story when Brown’s version of events drew scrutiny.

Marcie Kinzel, a spokeswoman for Brown, told Reuters on Thursday that the senator’s website hasn’t been updated since around Feb. 2010 when her boss took office.

One Democratic source told POLITICO that this timeline clearly doesn’t match up with the senator’s claims, since February would have been “well before any ‘summer intern’ would have been onboard.”

“It seems Sen. Brown’s office is so busy trying to cover their tracks that they forgot to get their story straight before talking to the press,” the source said.

Remember, when we talk about Brown’s strengths as a politician, we talk about his likability and authenticity. No one is especially impressed with the senator’s inability to grasp public policy; Brown excels by way of his personality. But these qualities have taken a hit recently, first with a cheap shot at Elizabeth Warren’s appearance, and now with this flap over Brown’s memories that turned out to be someone else’s memories.

Just to twist the knife a bit, American Bridge 21st Century, which uncovered the plagiarism story, put together this clip showing media coverage of Brown’s bad week. If you’re a fan of the senator, you might want to look away.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on October 15, 2011 8:42 AM:

    Scott Brown:
    "I was born a poor black child..."


  • DAY on October 15, 2011 8:46 AM:

    my thoughts, too, gulag! "I was born in a log cabin, and walked barefoot to return a book. . ."

    An apt quote: "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive." - Sir Walter Scott.

  • Live Free or Die on October 15, 2011 9:00 AM:

    Senator Slong is toast. Warren has not even gotten ramped up and she looks like she is on target to crush him.

  • chris galkin on October 15, 2011 10:09 AM:

    Come on...he looks good naked!

  • bdop4 on October 15, 2011 10:16 AM:

    Ouch. But 3rd-Party organizations (not Warren) need to keep this going through November 2012.

    This is the kind of problem that sticks in people's minds. It's also indefensible (although I'm sure a number of the faithful will try anyway).

  • Peter C on October 15, 2011 10:55 AM:

    Now, THE MOST IMPORTANT TASK for a whole army of Young Republicans and FOX News underlings is to find a Democrat, ANY DEMOCRAT, who plagerized his or her personal history and values statement. Indeed, we may see fewer trolls here and at other progressive blogs during this period of feverish activity.

  • Lifelong Dem on October 15, 2011 10:57 AM:

    The buck stops with the summer intern.

  • N.Wells on October 15, 2011 11:46 AM:

    Coming next: "Well, er, it was an Australian intern, during his summer."

  • exlibra on October 15, 2011 7:07 PM:

    Hopefully, Elizabeth Dole will also serve as a template for how the Senate election will turn out next year.

    As for his having to "borrow" her statement about his "moral values"... Possibly, the reason is, he doesn't have any and is therefore unable to describe them? I never thought that "phony" was very high on the "moral values" scale.

  • Hmmmmm on October 15, 2011 11:49 PM:

    I think there is a major misunderstanding here. The person at fault is "Summer Intern", a young female staffer, who has worked in his office since he was sworn in.