The Washington Times announced that its columnist and former editor-in-chief Amaud de Borchgrave is taking “a three-month leave from writing his weekly opinion column” following accusations of plagiarism against him.
As the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple outlined in a May 21 story, de Borchgrave’s work “as a columnist for the Washington Times and United Press International and as a program director for the Center for Strategic and International Studies” has been questioned.
He had written May 16 with several examples, noting that de Borchgrave said “I don’t have an editor.”
Wemple showed “side-by-side comparisons” of alleged plagiarism by de Borchgrave from May 9 and January 3, 2012. The January 3 story apparently lifted from ClickZ.com, whose executive editor Anna Maria Virzi told Wemple that “The author appears to be lazy and I can’t believe that he could not research this himself and even rewrite a little bit more of this so it doesn’t look so obvious.”
Wemple also provided an example dating back to 2007 that appeared to be lifted from the BBC. That story was for CSIS, which told Wemple “plagiarism is not something that’s tolerated here” and that “consequences…could include serious penalties.”
Salon reported that four anonymous “officials” at the Washington Times learned about the plagiarism in July.
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On May 21, the Washington Times published a story announcing de Borchgrave’s “three-month leave,” a “decision by Mr. de Borchgrave…after an examination by two online news sites of some of his work showed similarities with material from other sources, without attribution.”
De Borchgrave is quoted defending his attribution practices and committing to “redouble my efforts to attribute with precision” and to “take responsibility” for his “mistakes.” His self-described “hiatus” is to “work on my memoirs,” according to the Washington Times report.
The Washington Times noted it will review de Borchgrave’s columns “relatively soon” and apparently stood by de Borchgrave, quoting its editor saying “We wish him the best” and that he “has long been an asset.”
The Washington Post’s Wemple responded to the Washington Times announcement and detailed “the weirdness of this announcement,” including the Washington Times’ admission that “De Borchgrave’s in charge,” the impression that there was “nothing amiss,” and the presentation of the report.
We wrote to the Washington Times asking about Salon’s report and the Washington Post’s criticism, and for more information about the review of de Borchgrave’s work.
The Washington Times‘ Ed Kelley told iMediaEthics by e-mail that “The story we published in The [Washington] Times this morning and posted on washingtontimes.com last night speaks for itself. We aren’t going to comment beyond that.”