Skip to main content

Salon Gives the Lamest and Most Half-Assed Response To Getting Caught Plagiarizing

When BuzzFeed handles a plagiarism controversy better than you, it's time to take a long look in the mirror.

At long last, some four days after it was revealed that atheist writer C.J. Werleman had plagiarized in nearly 20 of his articles for Alternet and Salon, the latter website has finally acknowledged it. Bear in mind, Alternet's response to the plagiarism revelations was to quickly remove the articles that had been flagged. Then the site removed all articles by Werleman (including those that didn't contain plagiarism), and subsequently it issued a formal note to readers about it.

But how seriously did Salon take the stealing of other writers' work? So seriously that they issued not a note or a statement, but a correction, as if Werleman had merely flubbed, say, the rank of a naval officer:

"Four of contributor CJ Werleman’sstoriesforSalon, three of which were originally published by our partner site, AlterNet, have been discovered to contain passages that were either improperly sourced or plagiarized. In the interest of transparency, we have emboldened the sections of these articles in question and included hyperlinks to the original source material. Salon deeply regrets the oversight."

First of all, we found that Werleman plagiarized in five articles for Salon, not four, and it's possible that other instances may have eluded our detection.

Second, Salon's decision to merely embolden and hyperlink the plagiarized passages while keeping the original plagiarized text is inexplicable. Even the passages that Werleman lifted verbatim remain without quotation marks, and therefore this gives the reader no indication that those are actually someone else's words. Also unforgivable is the fact that Salon doesn't state on any of the plagiarized articles that they in fact are-- and let's emphasize the present tense here -- plagiarized. Instead, readers simply see the emboldened and hyperlinked text highlighting the plagiarized excerpts. That's because this vague sentence now accompanies Salon articles in which Werleman plagiarized:

"This piece has been corrected since it first published."

To say that's an understatement is an understatement.

Third, Werleman's behavior after it was revealed he plagiarized has been unconscionable, and this has included misrepresenting the extent of his offense and waging smear campaign against his critics that was then thoroughly debunked.

It was only a few months ago when BuzzFeed was dealing with its own plagiarism controversy. After reviewing the evidence, the site issued a formal apology to its readers, which, thanks to The Daily Banter, you can also read in GIF form. Not only that, but BuzzFeed now has a full explanation atop each plagiarized post. For example, here's the note that accompanies the site's ground-breaking exposé, "7 Miracle Babies To Warm Your Heart Today":

"This post has been corrected to remove phrasing that was copied from the site Baby Said What, from which the structure of the list was also copied.

"BuzzFeed takes its responsibility to readers very seriously, and plagiarism is a major breach of that responsibility. Please read our apology to readers here."

Not that Salon will take any heed but when BuzzFeed -- America's least-trusted news source -- takes plagiarism allegations much more seriously than you do, well, that's just deeply problematic.

Follow me on twitter

RELATED: An open letter to Salon about the plagiarist writing for them; New Atheist-Basher busted for plagiarism and then proceeds to have a total meltdown

Read BuzzFeed's apology for plagiarism, but now with GIFs!