Wente Weathers Plagiarism Accusation

Globe & Mail columnist Margaret Wente (pictured) is in hot water after allegations of plagiarism  surfaced with respect to a 2009 column by her. The allegation was levelled by University of Ottawa professor Carol Wainio who writes for the media blog Mea Culpa.

The column in question accuses Western elites with an overly aggressive enviromental agenda of causing undue hardship for Africans who are tasked with more pressing concerns than habitat protection and wildlife conservation such as simple survival — conveniently ignoring the link between the health of environment and the well-being of humans and other lifeforms that depend on it for survival.

In her analysis of the column, which can be found here, Wainio said it bore many similarities to a column written earlier by the Ottawa Sun’s  Dan Gardner that was itself inspired by ideas contained in a book by a Prof. Paarlberg. As the Guardian subsequently reported, the Globe & Mail conducted an investigation and conceded that there may have been “some truth” to the allegations and Wente was subsequently disciplined.

Yesterday, Wente wrote a column in the Globe & Mail addressing the allegations. It does contain something of a mea culpa, but also casts aspersions on Wainio. Here’s a quote:

The current firestorm started with a blogger named Carol Wainio, a professor at the University of Ottawa and a self-styled media watchdog. She has been publicly complaining about my work for years. Her website, Media Culpa, is an obsessive list of accusations involving alleged plagiarism, factual errors, attribution lapses and much else. She has more than once accused me of stealing the work of other writers with whom I happen to share an opinion.

As a columnist, Wente generally champions a conservative philosophy and counter-accusations have surfaced of a witch-hunt by those sympathetic to a more progressive political philosophy. Other people are less inclined to forgive Wente for her transgression. You can get a taste of that by checking out the comments section of Wente’s column.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

2 thoughts on “Wente Weathers Plagiarism Accusation”

  1. Plagiarism is very difficult to monitor and enforce with today’s vast internet online resources.

    Even if a journalist like her gets caught with a paper made 3 years ago, the question could also be whether plagiarism was intended or accidental?

    Now I wonder whether plagiarism itself is becoming a non-issue?

  2. m b: You should really check out the stuff about Wente on Media Culpa. http://mediaculpapost.blogspot.ca/

    We’re not talking about a single screw up from a few years ago, even though that’s the way Wente tried to wave this away in a recent column.

    If you won’t go so far as to call Wente a serial plagiarist (I think I might), she’s certainly a consistently sloppy writer.

    And these are just the cases where you can hold up writing by someone else next to hers and demonstrate she’s ripping other people off. It leaves out all the times she gets her facts wrong. Which is often.

    For years, climate scientists have raged about how completely out to lunch Wente is on that subject.

    Heck, I even wrote an article a few years back about women in science that was a reaction to a nonsensical Wente column about how women can’t do math so maybe we shouldn’t be funding women mathematicians and scientists.

    In short, she’s a contrarian who’s always played fast and loose with the facts but whose one asset was that she could occasionally turn a decent phrase.

    And now it seems that the phrases she was turning may not have even been her own.

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