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More examples of 'possible plagiarism' from Coulter's 'Godless' book

Ron Brynaert
Published: Monday July 10, 2006

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An ongoing RAW STORY examination of possible plagiarism and failure to cite sources by conservative pundit Ann Coulter in her best-selling book Godless has uncovered more examples that have yet to be reported or viewed by her publisher.

In addition to the three examples identified by plagiarism expert John Barrie (commissioned by The New York Post), three other examples cited by The Rude Pundit, and a list of fifteen items already reported by RAW STORY, the continuing investigation has turned up four more examples.

(Note: While similar language is used in the entirety of each of the quotations provided, language which is identical or nearly-identical is emphasized in bold by RAW STORY.)

The New York Sun

In the sixth chapter (page 163), Coulter employs language similar to that in a February, 2005 article published in the New York Sun, written by David Salisbury, the Director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, as well as numbers used in the Sun, without citing any source at all.

Coulter: "Between 1982 and 2001, spending on New York City public schools increased by more than 300 percent, clocking in at $21474 per pupil annually."

Salisbury: "In New York City, funding for public education has more than tripled since 1982, rising to $24.8 billion from $3.8 billion. In terms of per-pupil spending, that's an increase to $21,474 (for 2000-2001) from $4,165."

Coulter: "Only Washington, D.C., that hotbed of educational achievement, spends more per student."

Salisbury: "Only Washington, D.C., spends more, but doesn't get better results."

Coulter: "By contrast, the average tuition for private elementary schools is less than $4,000 and around $6,000 for private secondary schools."

Salisbury: "Data from the National Center for Education Statistics indicate that the average private elementary school tuition in America is less than $4,000 and the average private secondary school tuition is around $6,000."

Portland Press Herald

In the second chapter of Godless (page 55), Coulter employs language similar to a December, 2004 article written by Gregory D. Kesich for the Portland Press Herald on convicted killer Dennis Dechaine, but offers no citations for her summation of the case.

Coulter: "The case began in 1988, when Jennifer Henkel returned to her home in Bowdoin, Maine, to find her baby alone and her twelve-year old babysitter Sarah Cherry missing.”

Kesich: "The case against Dennis Dechaine began on Wednesday, July 6, 1988, when Jennifer Henkel returned to her home in Bowdoin at 3:20 p.m. to find her front door open and her baby sitter missing."

Coulter: "Henfel found a notebook and a car repair receipt with Dechaine’s name on it in the driveway."

Kesich: "Outside she found a little loose-leaf notebook and a car repair bill with Dechaine's name on it."

Coulter: "She had been stabbed repeatedly in the throat and head, and strangled with a scarf."

Kesich: "She had been raped with sticks, strangled with a scarf and stabbed repeatedly with a small blade around her throat."

Coulter: "The rope used to bind Cherry was later demonstrated to be part of the same rope that was found in Dechaine’s truck."

Kesich: "The rope used to tie Sarah was made of the same material as a yellow plastic rope found in Dechaine's truck."

The Cato Institute

In the sixth chapter (page 162), Coulter apparently lifted language, along with the entire premise, primarily from the "executive summary" of a 35-page report written by Paul Ciotti in March of 1988 for the Cato Institute called "Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment," (read in PDF format) but never cites her source.

From Godless:

Obviously, the solution is to keep paying teachers more. At least that the conclusion that the courts keep coming to - which is probably why the Constitution did not give judges the power to tax. In the mid-1980s, a federal judge in Kansas City implemented liberals’ dream program to improve the public schools. The judge imposed a $2 billion tax hike on the citizens of Kansas City in order to build opulent public school campuses replete with Olympic-size pools with an underwater viewing room, 25-acre wildlife sanctuaries, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation facilities - and of course, higher teachers’ salaries. After twenty years of the perfect experiment in liberal education theory, there was less racial integration in the schools - the purported purpose of the plan - and black test scores hadn’t improved one jot. Somewhat amazingly, at one high school, the reading scores of black males were completely unchanged from freshman to senior year.

Excerpts from Ciotti’s report:

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, "You can't solve educational problems by throwing money at them." The education establishment and its supporters have replied, "No one's ever tried." In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $21,700 per pupil--more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers' salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.


In an effort to bring the district into compliance with his liberal interpretation of federal law, the judge ordered the state and district to spend nearly $2 billion over the next 12 years to build new schools, integrate classrooms, and bring student test scores up to national norms.


At Central High, complained Clark, black males were actually scoring no higher on standardized tests when they graduated as seniors than they had when they enrolled as freshmen four years before.

Senator Orrin Hatch

In the second chapter (page 39), Coulter employs language similar to a March, 1994 speech against the nomination of Chief Justice Rosemary Barkett given in the Senate by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. (Parts of Hatch’s testimony can be read at National Review Online.)

Coulter: "One such killer was Jacob John Dougan, leader of what he called the 'Black Liberation Army,' the goal of which was to 'indiscriminately kill white people and thus start a revolution and race war.'"

Hatch: "Dougan was the leader of a group that called itself the Black Liberation Army and that, according to the trial judge, had as its 'apparent sole purpose * * * to indiscriminately kill white people and thus start a revolution and a race war."

Coulter: "Dougan killed an eighteen-year-old white hitchhiker, Stephen Anthony Orlando, and then made a tape describing Orlando’s murder in gruesome detail, which he mailed to the victim’s mother and, this being America, to the media."

Hatch: "Subsequent to the murder, Dougan made several tape recordings bragging about the murder, and mailed them to the victim's mother as well as to the media."

But it’s what Coulter left out of Hatch’s speech that is more disturbing than the similarities in language employed.

From Godless:

According to Barkett and her fellow dissenters Dougan’s case was "not simply a homicide case," it was also a "social awareness case." The opinion Barkett joined is worth quoting at some length:
[T]his killing was effectuated to focus attention on a chronic and pervasive illness of racial discrimination and of hurt, sorrow, and rejection. Throughout Dougan's life his resentment to bias and prejudice festered...

However, when Hatch appealed to the Senate he read from the entire dissent so as not to be accused of "distorting it."

Hatch’s speech:

Normally, I would summarize this dissent, but I do not want anyone listening to think that I am distorting it. Accordingly, I am going to read verbatim excerpts from it:
This case is not simply a homicide case, it is also a social awareness case. Wrongly, but rightly in the eyes of Dougan, this killing was effectuated to focus attention on a chronic and pervasive illness of racial discrimination and of hurt, sorrow, and rejection. Throughout Dougan's life his resentment to bias and prejudice festered.

If Coulter's source was indeed the Hatch speech, the author apparently cherry-picked content, leaving out "Wrongly but rightly in the eyes of Dougan," which put Barklett’s dissention in a worse light than it may have already been for many of her right-leaning readers.

Crown Publishing denial

In a statement released to Media Matters and other websites and media outlets last week, a senior vice president for the company that published Coulter's Godless characterized previous plagiarism allegations as "trivial," "meritless" and "irresponsible."

"We have reviewed the allegations of plagiarism surrounding Godless and found them to be as trivial and meritless as they are irresponsible," Crown Publishing Group's Steve Ross wrote. "Any author is entitled to do what Ann Coulter has done in the three snippets cited: research and report facts."

"The number of words used by our author in these snippets is so minimal that there is no requirement for attribution," added Ross. "As an experienced author and attorney, Ms. Coulter knows when attribution is appropriate, as underscored by the nineteen pages of hundreds of endnotes contained in Godless."

Coulter's publisher only mentions "three snippets." The Rude Pundit and RAW STORY have reported at least eight other "snippets."