A week earlier, the site ClickZ.com had posted an item headlined “10 Social Media 2011 Highlights (Data Included),” which included this wording:
“Facebook remains the global 900-pound gorilla of social media networks. Facebook reached 55 percent of the world’s global audience accounting for roughly 75 percent of time spent on social networking sites and one in every seven minutes spent online globally according to comScore’s October 2011 data.”
Anna Maria Virzi, executive editor of ClickZ.com, had this to say about the echo: “I mean, come on,” Virzi said. “The author appears to be lazy and I can’t believe that he could not research this himself and even rewrite a little bit more of this so it doesn’t look so obvious.” De Borchgrave says he “picked this up” at a social media conference and “received thanks from one of the sponsors.”
De Borchgrave’s think-tank work appears to reflect similar shortcuts. A July 2007 report titled “Force Multiplier for Intelligence” contains an introduction by de Borchgrave complete with a discussion of terrorism suspects under the watch of Britain’s MI5. A story with much the same wording appeared earlier that year in a BBC news report.
If nothing else, de Borchgrave’s literary borrowing shows how differently two organizations can handle allegations of wrongdoing. In keeping with its mysterious history, the Washington Times did not return calls and e-mails on this matter. (Salon.com reported last week that Washington Times officials had known about de Borchgrave’s habits before the latest examples surfaced).UPI could not be reached for comment.
CSIS, on the other hand, examined evidence of literary overlaps and declared that it would look into the matter. “We do have in our guidelines that plagiarism is not something that’s tolerated here,” said H. Andrew Schwartz, CSIS’s senior vice president for external relations. “We’ve never had to discipline anybody for anything like this, so I think the consequences of plagiarism could vary depending on the context. They could include serious penalties.”
A sprawling information-gathering campaign, suggests de Borchgrave, kicks off each of his columns. He reads eight newspapers a day. “I pick things up and make notes of different things and then use them in my column,” says de Borchgrave.
Of the allegations that some of those “different things” sneak into the columns without proper attribution, de Borchgrave notes: “If I dropped a few quote marks inadvertently, mea culpa. Everyone makes mistakes. I will make certain the appropriate quotation marks will be there in the future.”