February 12, 2014

The (U.K.) Daily Mail lifted several paragraphs from a Yahoo News account of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. It later updated the story with a credit to Yahoo.

The Yahoo story, written by Chris Moody, was published at approximately 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, while the unbylined Daily Mail piece was published at 6:01 p.m. on Tuesday and updated at 12:23 p.m. Wednesday.

While several sections paraphrased Moody’s story, several were outright rips, as the screenshots below show.

From Yahoo:

Speaking at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., Thomas, the second black justice to serve on the court, lamented what he considers a society that is more “conscious” of racial differences than it was when he grew up in segregated Georgia in the days before — and during — the civil rights era.

From the Daily Mail:

Some more instances of the Mail helping itself to the Yahoo story:


Thomas spent his childhood in a place and time in which businesses and government services were legally segregated. In his 2007 memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son,” he described his experience growing up as an African-American Catholic in Georgia during the Jim Crow era. “I was a two-fer for the Klan,” he said.

Thomas moved north from Georgia and graduated from Yale Law School in 1974. He went on to a successful judicial career that took him all the way to the Supreme Court. Thomas’ views on constitutional issues usually put him on the conservative side of the court, where he has penned opinions intended to rein in affirmative-action laws and overhaul a section of the Civil Rights Act that requires states with histories of discrimination to seek approval from the federal government before altering voting policies.

Throughout his career, Thomas said, he has experienced more instances of discrimination and poor treatment in the North than the South.

“The worst I have been treated was by northern liberal elites. The absolute worst I have ever been treated,” Thomas said. “The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia.”

The Mail:

While blatant, The Mail’s graf-ripping may not come as a huge surprise to some, as the British tabloid has been known to be lax about its attribution policies.

My interest in a potential plagiarism case was piqued by a tweet this morning tweet from Yahoo Chief Washington Correspondent Olivier Knox to The Sunday Times’ Toby Harnden.

Reached by email, Yahoo spokesperson Bahareh Ramin said, “We were aware of the Daily Mail piece and were in touch with them. Their story has been updated to include attribution to Yahoo News.”

The Mail hasn’t replied to a request for comment.

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