Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) continued to deny reports on Thursday that he'd stolen substantial sections from the Wikipedia entries of two movies and used them in speeches.
There are undeniable similarities between Paul's speeches and the Wikipedia entries, which are written by community members and not official in any sense. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported earlier this week that Paul had lifted a number of sentences from the Wikipedia entry on the film "Gattaca" during a recent speech in Virginia. BuzzFeed followed up with a report that found another instance of Paul stealing from a Wikipedia entry on "Stand and Deliver" during a speech on immigration earlier this year.
Paul first fought back against these charges on Wednesday during an interview with Fusion, claiming he'd only "borrowed plot lines" from the movies, and that "haters" were depicting his moves as something more significant. Maddow later covered his response on her show, saying that it seemed like Paul doesn't actually understand what plagiarism is, or perhaps why he was even being accused of it.
Paul made his apparent confusion even clearer on Thursday, when his office released an official response to the controversy.
“In the course of a 25 minute speech, Senator Paul described the plot of a movie attributed it to the primary sources -- the movie -- in no way insinuating they were his own thoughts or ideas," his office said in a statement to BuzzFeed. "If the text had been submitted for academic publication, of course it would have been footnoted. Only in Washington is something this trivial a source for liberal media angst.”
As others have pointed out, Paul hasn't been charged with acting as if he was the actual mind behind "Gattaca" or "Stand and Deliver." Paul has been accused of plagiarizing, in this case directly lifting passages written by others on Wikipedia and inserting them into his speeches, without attribution. If that's not clear, here's the definition of plagiarism according to to Merriam-Webster: "To use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas."