The Corner

Historian: Ben Carson Did Not Plagiarize My Book

Bill Federer, the author of a “quote book” featured repeatedly in Ben Carson’s America the Beautiful, defends the neurosurgeon-turned-presidential aspirant from charges of plagiarism.

“In my estimation, he has used my material exactly the way I wanted my material to be used,” Federer tells National Review Online. “The fact that he had cited me 16 times shows that his intention was to be honest and up front in his use of my material and the two times that the BuzzFeed article cited that he had not, in my estimation, is an editor’s oversight, errata, and it’s not plagiarism.”

The conservative author was responding to a BuzzFeed report that Carson had plagiarized from Federer’s America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations. The report pointed to multiple instances in which Carson had used text from other sources without quotation marks to indicate that he was not writing in his own voice. Federer blames that on the editor, providing NRO with e-mails that show him collaborating with Candy Carson (who co-authored the book with her husband) and reading the manuscript after it had gone through three drafts.

“It’s one thing a student going online and is cheating and taking someone else’s paper,” Federer says. In this case, “there wasn’t a habit of using somebody else’s thoughts and claiming them as your own.”

To buttress the argument that the editor made a mistake, Federer points to a quote from his book, via Carson’s, that refers to James Madison as “John” Madison.

“In other words, the editor made a mistake,” he says.

Federer adds that he felt “misrepresented” by the BuzzFeed story because it portrayed Carson as “a low-level plagiarist when this was an honest editor’s error.”

“Somebody is saying, ‘we want to dig up stuff on Dr. Carson,’ and they can’t find him sleeping around so they pick on his book,” Federer says.

BuzzFeed has published a number of plagiarism stories about politicians, Democratic and Republican.

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