As a busy guy with lots of deadlines, I’ve always understood and feared the dangerous possibility of sloppily copying something by mistake. What I have never been able to get my mind around is willful, sustained, and clearly deliberate plagiarism — particularly when committed by very successful writers. I can see why some insecure kid might do something stupid. I don’t condone it, I can just understand it. But how do you explain Chris Hedges? If this New Republic piece is right, then he’s a grotesque and wanton plagiarist. He submitted a piece to Harper’s* that is, allegedly, full of ripped-off paragraphs and quotes reported by another journalist. And it apparently isn’t an isolated incident. And for what? It wasn’t like Hedges was under pressure to write a piece about poverty in Camden, N.J. He could have done his own reporting. Why would a guy that successful take such a stupid, discoverable, and dishonorable shortcut? I just don’t understand it.
And good for Christopher Ketcham and TNR for running it. They’ll make few friends on the left for doing so.
*Note: An early version said Hedges had submitted the piece to Mother Jones. It was Harper’s. I changed the text accordingly.