Former U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis will not lose his law license as a result of the plagiarism that probably cost him last year’s GOP nomination for Colorado governor. While McInnis has been crowing about this, media critic Jason Salzman writes in his Big Media blog today that McInnis is still guilty of plagiarism and is still guilty of misrepresenting his work to the Hasan Foundation, which paid him $300,000 for a series of original water articles.
As The Denver Post’s Dean Singleton said on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show last week, McInnis is still a plagiarist, even if the plagiarism was executed by his assistant Rolly Fischer. This conforms with the view of Prof. Bob Steele, a journalism ethics guru, who pointed out last year that even if text is given freely to a writer, word-for-word use of it still constitutes plagiarism. And in McInnis’ case, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs did not authorize McInnis to use his words.
Neither has McInnis been cleared of misrepresenting his water-musings articles to the Hasan Family Foundation, which he described as “original,” leaving him open to charges of fraud. Seeme Hasan acknowledged on KHOW’s Caplis and Silverman show that contrary to what the Foundation stated last year, McInnis did inform her, on a fax cover sheet, that he had hired an assistant to work on the water project. But Hasan says the assistant could have been answering the phones, for all she know. She did not know he would be writing the water musings, and she would not have allowed this had she known, she told KHOW.
It was a radio interview with Rick Wagner that seems to have gotten Salzman riled up on the subject. See a transcript of that radio interview here.
Salzman has written a number of books on the media and was the Rocky Mountain News’ media critic for several years.