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February 16, 2011 09:56 PM UTC

The Mike Rosen Recycling Program!

  • 32 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

THURSDAY UPDATE #2: Rosen’s “so what?” response to Westword (see Thursday update below) isn’t a shared sentiment at the Denver Post, apparently. Post Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley responded to our email query on this story. Said Haley:

We expect all columns published in our section to be original work and I recently told Mike this. While it’s true that you can’t plagiarize yourself, and it’s easy to simply lift paragraphs from your previous work as a way to provide background or supporting information, I expect writers to let readers know when they’re doing that.

Haley also clarified that Rosen is a freelance columnist, in a similar position to that of Susan Barnes-Gelt, Ed Quillen and John Andrews.

—–

THURSDAY UPDATE: Westword’s Michael Roberts gets the brush off from Rosen:

Earlier this week, a tipster informed yours truly (and Colorado Pols) that KOA talk show host Mike Rosen had basically copied a 2008 column he wrote for the Rocky Mountain News and republished it in December as a Denver Post piece. Rather than simply running side-by-side excerpts, we shared the info with Rosen to get his take. His response in a nutshell? Yeah, I did it, and so what?

…When contacted about the columns, Rosen responded via e-mail with this: “So what? I’ve been writing columns for 30 years. What’s his point, that I’m plagiarizing myself? No need to reinvent the wheel when the same issues resurface. Presumably, some new readers haven’t read all my past columns. As William F. Buckley, Jr. once said, ‘Repetition is the price of mastery.’ I’m flattered that your ‘tipster’ follows me so closely. Sounds like someone who disagrees with my views wanting to be a nuisance.”

…there’s a certain irony in the fact that the first copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by Nevada’s Righthaven LLC on behalf of the Post charged a South Carolina blogger for republishing a Rosen column without permission.

—–

[ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS]

Have you ever read a column from conservative pundit Mike Rosen of the Denver newspaper, and thought to yourself, “this is a bunch of tired, lazy boilerplate I’ve read before?”

As it turns out, you might be on to something.

A reader forwarded us this column from Rosen, written for the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News in November of 2008, titled “The ‘trickle-down’ myth.”

Leak through or trickle down – same difference. Bryan was a populist demagogue, a practitioner of the politics of envy, which latter-day Democrats have raised to an art form…

Defaming supply-side economics contemptuously as “trickle-down” has been a Democratic standby for years, with one notable exception. After John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, he persuaded Congress to reduce the confiscatory top marginal tax rate, then 90 percent, down to a mere 70 percent. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York in 1962, JFK explained: “In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues too low – and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut tax rates now.”

…In fact, it’s simply common sense. It applies to all facets of commerce. Think of a department store, for example. When the store wants to make more money it doesn’t raise its prices, it advertises a sale and cuts them. The store might make less money per unit sold, but by stimulating the volume of economic activity it increases its profits. Lower tax rates are a sale on economic enterprise.

Well, two years later, Rosen submitted another column for his current gig with the Denver paper–also forwarded to us today. Rosen’s second column, titled “‘Trickle-down’ a Democratic epithet,” is an obvious copy of Rosen’s Rocky column from 2008. In the telltale manner we’ve learned to watch for in the aftermath of former gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis’ plagiarism implosion, Rosen appears to have altered the first few sentences, found a couple of synonyms and other substitute terms, and moved a couple of paragraphs around in an effort to cover his tracks.

But with only those few token changes, it’s the same column.

To be clear, we’re not completely sure how to categorize this–some have insisted to us that this is straight-up academic plagiarism, which in the view of those observers does not make an exception for reusing even one’s own prior work without attribution. Others tell us that this is more a case of defrauding the Denver newspaper, by recycling columns for which he has already been paid. Did Rosen obtain prior permission from his editors to make token edits to a two-year-old column, and recycle it as “new” material in that paper? That seems hard to imagine, unless standards at the state’s newspaper of record have fallen even farther than we thought.

According-to-Hoyle plagiarism or fraud or whatever it is, it looks really, really lazy.

Comments

32 thoughts on “The Mike Rosen Recycling Program!

  1. Self-plagiarism is a major strike against the writer (if not cleared beforehand, and I agree it’s unlikely it was) and can prevent them from receiving further assignments if severe enough. And they get paid a LOT less than Rosen.

    1. Rosen/McInnis has a nice associative imagery about it.  Rosen hasn’t come up with anything original in years.  A totally plastic Republican recycling previous stale points without bothering to refurbish anything.

  2. from when I was still reading the RMN.

    I remember thinking to myself, “Genius, sheer genius . . . Now if we could just convince all of the department stores to reduce their sales prices below their costs of operation we’d have the best of both worlds — cheap goods for all consumers and untold wealth for the store owners.”  As Mike says, “It’s simply common sense.”

    (As an aside, I have a gun-totin’, Palin-lovin’, moose-shootin’, Republican, federal law-enforcement buddy who’s always quoting to me from Rosen.  His conversation almost always starts with — “Mike Rosen, he’s an economist you know, . . .”

    And, my first thought is always — “and we let you carry loaded weapons?”)

    1. I remember thinking to myself, “Genius, sheer genius . . . Now if we could just convince all of the department stores to reduce their sales prices below their costs of operation we’d have the best of both worlds — cheap goods for all consumers and untold wealth for the store owners.”  As Mike says, “It’s simply common sense.”

      And, don’t get me started on My gun-totin’, Palin-lovin’, moose-shootin’, Republican, federal law-enforcement buddy who’s always quoting to me from Rosen.  Everytime he starts a conversation  with, “You know Mike Rosen, he’s an economist,” I just want to stick a fork in my forehead to make the pain go away.

  3. What Mike Rosen has on Dean Singleton. They can’t possibly keep him on the payroll now that he’s been exposed as a self-plagiarizing fraud, can they?

    Maybe he’ll hijack an Iranian airliner, fly it right into the Denver Post and “blow it to smithereens!”

  4. Does anyone remember the mini scandal when the Blondie comic strip apparently repeated itself a few years back, albeit from a 1952 original?

    Each of the 56-years-apart episodes shows Mr. Dithers barging into the Bumstead house and bathroom to see if the bathing Dagwood is home. In the last panel, a towel-clad Dagwood is pictured hanging out of the window to avoid his boss.

    Of course, as with Rosen, the better question is how come this doesn’t happen more often. There are only so many ways to arrange the same dozen elements of a Blondie cartoon or a Rosen column, it’s bound to have that whiff of familiarity.

  5. Now, I know that I am the only one who listens to talk radio…but a couple of times, I thought he was reading his column on the air.  Anyone else catch that?  Or, is it only me?

    1. dreck in The Denver Past, I’m guessing Rosen’s just following their stylebook.

      Jason was wondering in another recent diary how long it’s going to be before they finally get after McInnis on his promised name clearing?  I was going to offer they might be working on a fairly comprehensive 50th-anniversary story for sometime in 2060 (although it fantastically stretches credulity to even suggest they might still be around in another five years.)

    1. That’s exactly what Rosen should do.  Not just column – the 4 or 5 others he repeats endlessly.  If he could narrow them down to just 5, it could like his panties- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

      (Sat is Monday inside out. Sunday is a day of rest)  

  6. Running a student newspaper in college, I caught one of our columnists plagiarizing. What was especially interesting was that one of the articles he plagiarized was itself self-plagiarized.

    I think that actually both the paper which shall not be named and the RMN could ask for restitution for the value of the column if they didn’t clear it in advance. Even if the Denver Ghost cleared it, the RMN can ask (and sue) the DG for restitution.

    I’m sure the paper which shall not be named is aware of its rights and responsibilities in a case like this, given how, ahem, litigious it is in cases of so much as a not-actually-oversize block quote. What I’d like to see is a legal estate for the RMN bother to ask for restitution… seems unlikely, but it’d be fun to see.

    1. The Post would be the one infringing here, though there’s a big if involved. Do you (or any of the handwringers above) know what rights Rosen sold to the Rocky along with the original column? If it was nonexclusive serial, then he can do whatever he wants with the column later. The Post might be peeved it’s getting warmed-over blather, but it’s not as though that doesn’t describe everything Rosen writes.

      1. Somebody with a law degree, feel free to correct me, but I believe that as a freelancer, Rosen would have sold that story to the Rocky outright. So whoever now owns the Rocky archives owns the story.

        1. And it appears those were the terms Salzman had when he was a columnist for the Rocky. But I know a number of columnists sell their writing under much less restrictive terms, in part because they resell the same column to a number of outlets that aren’t considered competitive either geographically or by topical coverage area. I have no idea how Rosen operated in his Rocky days, but I’m not assuming it was one way rather than the other.

  7. .

    speaking as one who has had confidential information plagiarized, information purportedly protected as proprietary, I’m sensitive to the difference.

    Google a definition.  The plagiarist has to lift something from another author.  It’s definitional.  

    But lazy, yer right about that.

    .

    1. for this kind of robotic punditry.  You don’t see the liberal equivalent of Mike Rosen and John Andrews in the big Colorado daily.  It continues to expose what a biased newspaper is being produced under the guise of fair and balanced.

  8. It ain’t easy writing a persuasive defense of trickle down with 30 years of evidence suggesting that the trickle is more like a full stop. His arguments are bullshit just like his work product.  

  9. If their goal is to just have any content that carries the ads, then this is no big deal. And in fact, they can shoot to have half their content be old content that is rearranged a bit – there are computer programs that can do this.

    On the flip side, if they think their content should meet a minimal standard of a newspaper, then they will require that Rosen write something original each column. And if he’s run out of original thoughts (quite likely), then replace him with someone new.

      1. Haley:

        “While it’s true that you can’t plagiarize yourself, and it’s easy to simply lift paragraphs from your previous work as a way to provide background or supporting information, I expect writers to let readers know when they’re doing that.”

        So “you can’t plagiarize yourself,” but on the other hand it’s ok if you “let readers know when they’re doing that”?  This literally makes no sense, so I’ll translate: yes, it’s an ethical breach, but we still want to employ him, so I’ll nonsensically plead it down to failing to inform readers…

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