On Friday morning, Godless Spellchecker’s Blog highlighted several instances of plagiarism in articles written by C.J. Werleman for your site and also Alternet. Suspecting there might be more, I scanned Werleman’s pieces myself, and sure enough, there were. Those instances were also published on Friday on this site. The nature of the plagiarism is clear and damning, and several instances of it show a lazy attempt to slightly alter passages written by others merely by changing a word or two. For example, in one case, Werleman copied an entire sentence but for the substitution of “three decades” for “30 years.”
Alternet’s response was to quickly remove the pieces that had been flagged as containing plagiarism. On Monday, the site then removed all of Werleman’s articles and issued a statement. Werleman has disingenuously admitted to inadvertently plagiarizing, but his explanation for the offense grossly understates both the amount and the nature of his theft of others’ work. He also saw fit to try to smear Sam Harris, but that failed spectacularly.
Salon has issued no statements about this fiasco since it came to light on Friday. More incredibly, Werleman’s plagiarized pieces remain on your site as of Monday at 12:30pm. All one, two, three, four, five of them. And who knows, there might even be more. Seeking a comment, I sent emails to two different editors for your site, but these were not returned. My phone call went answered and your voicemail inbox was full.
At this point, I would like to ask four questions:
1) Why are you allowing work that’s quite obviously been stolen from hard-working writers and researchers to remain on your site?
2) Do you condone plagiarism, or at least think it’s not an egregious offense?
3) Do you plan on continuing your relationship with C.J. Werleman even after he’s been discovered to have plagiarized, and even after he attempted to engage in a blatantly dishonest smear campaign?
4) What kind of operation are you running?
Although I’ve been critical of some of your articles in the past, these questions are eminently reasonable. This is not a disagreement over a political issue. This is a matter of journalistic ethics, which have been so clearly violated in this case that it’s actually astounding Salon has been silent on this issue for four days.
I think I can speak for everyone who gives a damn about editorial integrity and just plain honesty when I say that it’s incumbent upon Salon to address this problem immediately. To remain silent is tantamount to giving your readers and the people Werleman stole from a giant middle finger. It’s to say, “We don’t give a shit.”
And with each passing hour, it truly seems like you don’t.
Update 10/22: Salon has finally acknowledged the plagiarism in an incredibly tone-deaf “correction.”
RELATED:C.J. Werleman says ISIS isn’t motivated by Islam and that it’s not as big of a threat as a potential Christian theocracy. He also faces plagiarism allegations and has a total meltdown.