Why didn’t CNN cover plagiarism by Obama’s mentors, Ogletree and Tribe?

(5/23, 10:30 a.m. update) Thanks to Harvard attorney John Hinderaker for his blog post summarizing and commenting on this post: “CNN’s Political Hit Job on Sheriff Clarke.”

[end of update]

Sheriff David A. Clark Jr. enjoys well-deserved national fame for his championing of conservative causes, and particularly for his pushback against liberal “solutions” to the problems of violent crime and urban disfunction that liberals have created through the last half century of misguided social policy.

Indeed, Sheriff Clark has admirers even in at the most far-left institutions — even at Harvard Law School.

Which is why some of the more conservative students at Harvard Law School, including those of us who launched this blog, only one of whom will be graduating soon (more fun next year, tied to the 200th anniversary; stay tuned!), were so pleased to hear last week that Sheriff Clarke will soon be filling an important post in the Department of Homeland Security, in charge of relations with state and local law enforcement.

We were not so pleased to read this hit piece, published by CNN on May 20, attempting to brand Sheriff Clarke as a “plagiarist” because, in writing a master’s thesis which drew on dozens of primary sources, in citing a few of the sources, in various passages of his very lengthy paper, he accurately cited the pages of the sources on which he relied, thus giving full credit to each author, but did not put quotation marks around various passages that Sheriff Clarke had not completely reworded, so that some of the wording was the same.

There is no need to defend Sheriff Clarke on specifics, for the key question here is not whether he violated some technical standards governing how an academic paper ideally should be prepared. We assume that Sheriff Clarke did fall a bit short in his adherence to technical standards, and that on at least some occasions he should either have used more quotation marks or else should have eliminated the similarities in language by further revising the draft.

The key question is whether Sheriff Clarke somehow acted dishonorably, in an attempt to mislead readers, in the way he wrote the paper. And obviously the answer is “no.” Even CNN concedes that “[i]n all instances reviewed by CNN’s KFile, Clarke lifts language from sources and credits them with a footnote . . . .” Because Sheriff Clarke gave full credit on each point to each author on whom he relied, it’s obvious he wasn’t attempting to somehow claim that he’d thought up particular points, when in fact they’d been earlier made by others. (And there was nothing particularly original about the points made as to which CNN cries “plagiarism!”; the passages cited relate to historical events, how the government has operated, and what various people think about various government policies.)

Anyone looking up each source cited would realize that Sheriff Clarke was giving full credit to the author(s) who had originally made the point. And thus no claim can colorably be made here that Sheriff  Clarke did anything dishonorable which might remotely bear on his role in public life.

So why did CNN take the time to locate, review, and research Sheriff Clarke’s master’s thesis? Because CNN is part of the liberal fake-news media apparatus that has been targeting President Trump since Day 1 of his presidency, and it is attempting to carry out a political hit job on a black conservative who is detested by liberals with a fury which exceeds (because he’s a black who refuses to stay on the plantation) even their hatred of President Trump.

We agree with Sheriff Clarke that the CNN has unleashed a “hired gun” — a “political hack” whose job is to do “oppo research” that favors Democrats. And we know that Sheriff Clarke is correct in commenting: “Only someone with a political agenda would say this is plagiarism.”

How do we know this? Because we’re students at Harvard Law School, familiar with the legendary crash and burn of two of its most famous professors, Laurence Tribe and Charles Ogletree, who were caught not just plagiarizing from the books of other scholars without even citing them (Clarke, by contrast, cited each scholar relied on), but were caught having students ghostwrite their books for them (no one disputes that Clarke, by contrast, wrote his master’s thesis himself).

CNN’s political agenda is made clear by the fact that it never devoted such intensive analysis to the plagiarism and use of ghostwriters by Ogletree and Tribe, not in 2004 when the scandals arose, not in 2008, when Ogletree and Tribe were in the news as key campaign aides to Obama (and lauded by the liberal media for having mentored Obama during law school), and not even in 2010 when Tribe was appointed to a high-level post in the Department of Justice.

Apparently, when supporters of a president are appointed to high-level positions or are otherwise influential, CNN is interested in plagiarism stories only if the president is conservative. CNN’s failure to cover the Ogletree and Tribe plagiarism/ghostwriting scandals is proof positive that its current story is a political hit job.

Lest we be accused of plagiarism or some other failure to give full attribution, we thank the Harvard Law School students who, in past years, blogged on these matters, most recently on the Harvard Law School is Bogus blog and, most exhaustively, on the Harvard Plagiarism Archive blog, both of which we consulted in preparing this post, to ensure that we are accurately characterizing the evidence of scholarly misconduct on the part of Ogletree and Tribe.

These blogs, and the many sources linked on them, should help those who have not attended Harvard Law School understand the shame and ridicule that Ogletree and Tribe have incurred even at this liberal institution, over their fundamentally unethical scholarly practices, which CNN did not even bother to mention when they rose to prominence during the Obama Administration. This stands in sharp contrast to the political hit job it has now launched against a black conservative, Sheriff David Clarke, whose highly technical citation infractions are, at most, 1% as serious as the egregious misconduct committed by Ogletree and Tribe, who were spared CNN coverage of their misdeeds because they are liberals who supported a liberal president.

For a quick overview of the Ogletree and Tribe plagiarism/ghostwriting scandals, we recommend in particular these posts:



Sheriff Clarke has it right. Political. Hit. Job.

2 thoughts on “Why didn’t CNN cover plagiarism by Obama’s mentors, Ogletree and Tribe?

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