Eat The Press

In a bizarre irony, HuffPo's ETP has learned that The Boston Herald plagiarized Editor & Publisher's article about Seth Mnookin's Vanity Fair article about...plagiarism. Except for the first paragraph, today's Boston Herald "'Code' blue: Vanity Fair calls Brown copycat cowboy" is almost identical to E&P's "Upcoming 'Vanity Fair' Article Raises New Issues About 'DaVinci Code' Author," dating from yesterday, June 6th, at 11:45 am ET. The byline on the E&P story is "E&P Staff" and the byline on the Herald story is "Inside Track," which is the Herald's gossip column.

Both stories refer to Mnookin's article, "The Da Vinci Clone," about allegations of plagiarism against Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown as a "massive article." Both stories cite "John Olsson, the director of Britain's Forensic Linguistics Institute" saying "This is the most blatant example of in-your-face plagiarism I've ever seen. It just goes on and on. There are literally hundreds of parallels." Both follow with "Brown did not respond to requests for comment" (E&P says "from Vanity Fair"; the Boston Herald says "from the magazine").

Both follow with a paragraph on a separate plagiarism allegation. E&P:

Mnookin also cites an incident in which Brown copied for "The DaVinci Code" an exact passage from the paper "Leonardo's Lost Robot," written by robotics expert Mark Rosheim. Brown's publisher, Doubleday, said it was covered under fair-use. Rosheim says, "Every now and then I'll be giving a talk and someone will come in with The Da Vinci Code and ask me to sign a copy. Either that or they'll accuse me of copying him."

Boston Herald:

Mnookin also cites a passage in "The Da Vinci Code" that is exactly the same as a passage from the paper "Leonardo's Lost Robot," written by robotics expert Mark Rosheim. Brown's publisher, Doubleday, said it was covered under fair use. "Every now and then I'll be giving a talk and someone will come in with 'The Da Vinci Code' and ask me to sign a copy," Rosheim said. "Either that or they'll accuse me of copying him."

Next, the articles mention how Mnookin "links" (E&P) "offers evidence that may link" (Herald) "to a spate of "mysterious" e-mails that Perdue has received, coming from one "Ahamedd Saaddodeen" (both articles). The kicker for both articles: "The new Vanity Fair article concludes with Perdue's words: "Sometimes it's hard not to feel as if I'm going crazy."

When asked about the similarity, E&P editor-in-chief Greg Mitchell said he had not known about the Herald article. Said Mitchell: "Very funny. A newspaper story about plagiarism that, to put it mildly, borrows very heavily from our story."

When called for comment, "Inside Track" co-editor Gayle Fee admitted the error, saying she "rewrote the E&P piece on deadline" and "should have credited them." Fee had no further comment. At the time of publication, the Boston Herald article had not been updated to reflect E&P as the source material.

UPDATE, 2:51 pm: The Boston Herald has taken the story off its website.

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