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GOP lawmaker accused of plagiarizing Washington Times’ anti-climate change rant

By Daniel Tencer
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 17:20 EDT
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A Republican state representative in Oregon who declared last week that “the hypothesis of catastrophic man-made global warming is dead” has been accused of lifting that assertion — and the rest of his speech on the House floor — from a Washington Times editorial.

Rep. Matt Wingard, who has a degree in broadcast journalism, admitted on Monday that he lifted his speech from an editorial entitled “Osama and Obama on global warming,” which sought to link Osama bin Laden’s recent declaration on global warming to the US president’s policies.

Wingard told the Wilsonville Spokesman that he had planned to send out a press release explaining that his speech came from the Washington Times. And he did that on Monday, but only after Kari Chisholm at Blue Oregon published a story showing Wingard’s speech to be almost exactly the same as the Times editorial.

Wingard reportedly also lifted several paragraphs from columnist Margaret Wente in Canada’s Globe and Mail.

Chisholm reported:

As I listened to Wingard’s speech, it struck me as being a little odd. On the floor of the Oregon House, he talked about the winter in Scotland, a professor at the University of Victoria, the Russian view of some British research. It was all a bit curious.

So, I got to Googling, and now we know why: Matt Wingard’s entire speech was plagiarized. Well, all of it except for a single six-word sentence – and a bunch of minor wording changes designed to hide the plagiarism.

Make no mistake: it’s those minor wording changes that are the most damning of all — if he’d been merely reading an article and forgot to mention that, the text would have been verbatim. He was covering his tracks.

Chisholm added that copyright infringement is “hypocritical for a guy that goes on and on about property rights.” In a follow-up story, Chisholm noted that “[t]his incident is especially damning for Wingard because he’s a trained journalist.”

‘SCIENTISTS REVIEWED MY SPEECH’

“I guess if you’re afraid of the substance of the debate, you attempt to distract from it as much as possible,” Wingard told the Wilsonville Spokesman. “I had a number of scientists review my speech before I read it. I stand by the substance of the statement. Everything else is just political games.”

Wingard has a BA in broadcast journalism from the University of Southern California. He worked for KIMA TV in Yakima, Washington, before becoming a campaign manager for a Washington State lawmaker. He continues to run a communications consultancy.

The Washington Times editorial Wingard cited declared that “the man-caused catastrophic global warming theory is dead, and it needs to be buried,” and asserted that “Mr. Obama and Mr. bin Laden need to update their talking points.”

The following video, of Rep. Wingard’s speech on the Oregon House floor, was posted to YouTube by user ORHouseDems on Feb. 12, 2010.

 
 
 
 
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