How Defending Ann Coulter Is Like Defending a Serial Killer:
When historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was accused of plagiarism for her 1987 book The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, fifteen years after its publication, her early defense was her "extensive" research and citations. Ann Coulter's publisher, Crown, is making the same case, saying that Coulter's book Godless has "19 pages of endnotes."
And it's true, oh, so true. There's endnotes upon endnotes in this heinously awful collection of Coulter's columns strung together by the mucus of venomous spittle. Man, you couldn't even begin to check all these endnotes, nor would you, because, you know, you expect that an editor or, say, a publisher would have checked all this before. In her last "book," Slander, Coulter couldn't talk enough about how the thing was filthy with endnotes, which, she and others asserted, made it all valid and true and right. The fact-checkers out there can address what will inevitably turn out to be a mind-bogglingly random tossing of sources in at the end of Godless.
The problem, of course, is not what's cited. As Goodwin learned, it's not what you cite that makes you a plagiarist. It's what you don't cite. And, really, open up just about any random page in Godless, and, sure enough, there'll be uncited information, which, while not the word-for-word plagiarism that gets everyone all hard and ready to ejaculate at the book burning, is still sloppy and just objectively (you heard the Rude Pundit: "objectively") wrong.
Like, for instance, pages 204 and 205, in her chapter where Coulter supposedly disproves evolution. She summarizes and quotes from Michael Behe's evolution-questioning book Darwin's Black Box, yet her endnotes contain not a single mention of Behe's book. One might assume she never actually read Behe's difficult work. Then she quotes two evolution-supporting biolgists, Tom Cavalier-Smith and Robert Dorit, who "concede Behe's point." Yet, again, she offers no citation for these quotes. Could it be because what she's actually doing is quoting Behe quoting them from an article first published at the creationist Discovery Institute's website?
The entire book has page after page of uncited material, no matter how much she actually cites stuff elsewhere. To say that her endnotes prove her innocence is not unlike saying that the guy next door went his whole life without killing anyone until he blew a brain gasket and went on a ten-state hobo-stabbing spree. Crown Publishing is full of shit and knows it (unless you wanna publish a book by the Rude Pundit; then let's do lunch - you know how to get in touch), trying to protect a cash cow from being gutted. And it doesn't matter if it's just negligence or active theft and obfuscation. Coulter appears on television and is treated like an expert whose opinion is at least vaguely informed by more than a desire to keep appearing on television. (For, indeed, Coulter is the crack whore of the news networks.) Every network gives her the imprimatur of being knowledgeable.
So why has the Rude Pundit spent so much time on Coulter's plagiarism when there's so many other more important issues out there? Simple enough: because it's fun. And in the midst of summertime, we can all agree that a little bit o' fun is a good thing, especially if the end result is something positive, like daily jogs on the beach'll help you get rid of that spare tire or that tearing down Ann Coulter will make the United States a much more pleasant place.