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[Baltimore Sun Columnist ]Olesker Out (detailed account of his alleged plagiarism)
WBAL ^ | January 04, 2006 | WBAL

Posted on 01/04/2006 12:33:26 PM PST by Former Military Chick


Olesker Out
Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - The Associated Press

Columnist Michael Olesker has resigned two weeks before his 30th anniversary with The (Baltimore) Sun amid allegations of plagiarism, after an alternative weekly found instances in which he used the work of other journalists without attribution.

Olesker resigned Tuesday, a day before the City Paper article hit the streets.

"I hope that people will understand that in the course of deadline pressures and trying to take a jumble of facts and boil them down to something understandable that I made errors of sloppiness and inadvertence that were human mistakes and certainly not in any way willful," Olesker told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Olesker, 60, wrote a local column for 27 years. He also served in other capacities for two years. His most recent column appeared Tuesday, his last day. Olesker said he was "stunned" when he received a phone call from The Sun about the City Paper's upcoming article while he was at lunch Tuesday, and he was asked to come to The Sun's offices.

Sun Editor Tim Franklin described Olesker as "contrite and apologetic" after meeting with editors. Franklin said Olesker decided to resign later that day.

"This has been a very painful experience for me and for the newsroom and obviously for Mike," Franklin said. "He's meant a lot to The Sun over the past three decades. He has illuminated many important issues in Baltimore and in the state in that time, so this was hard."

Olesker and Sun Political Editor David Nitkin are central figures in a First Amendment lawsuit the newspaper has filed against Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

In November 2004, Ehrlich issued an order prohibiting executive branch employees from speaking with Olesker and Nitkin. The ban was imposed after Nitkin disclosed a state proposal to sell preserved forestland in St. Mary's County to a politically connected construction company.

The governor's staff also complained about a November 2004 column in which Olesker described a meeting that he did not attend. Olesker acknowledged that he did not attend the meeting and apologized.

The governor's office also accused Olesker of concocting a conversation with Lt. Gov. Michael Steele for a column in May 2004. But a few days after leveling the accusation, Ehrlich's office acknowledged that Steele had spoken to the columnist.

Olesker said Wednesday that he and the newspaper have "been under tremendous pressure politically" and that he felt it was best that he leave the paper.

A federal district judge ruled against the paper in the lawsuit, which is now under appeal. Franklin said he didn't believe Olesker's resignation would affect the lawsuit, because arguments already have been made in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Franklin also said the lawsuit is "bigger than one individual."

"The lawsuit was about the principle of whether a high-ranking government official can gag tens of thousands of state employees from talking to individual journalists because he didn't like what they wrote," Franklin said.

Ehrlich Press Secretary Greg Massoni said in an e-mail detailing the ban that Nitkin and Olesker "are failing to objectively report on any issue dealing with the Ehrlich-Steele administration."

The recent allegations against Olesker surfaced Tuesday in an e-mail from Gadi Dechter, a media reporter at the City Paper to Sun City Editor Howard Libit.

Dechter said he and a researcher had reviewed Olesker's columns during the past two years and found instances in which the columnist had apparently used the work of journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Sun without attribution.

Dechter's research was prompted by a Dec. 24 correction in The Sun in which the paper said a paragraph from a Dec. 12 column by Olesker about former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland was almost identical to lines in a 2003 profile by Peter Carlson of The Washington Post.

Carlson wrote: "On one of his first trips out of the hospital, an old girlfriend pushed him around Washington in his wheelchair. Outside the White House, the chair hit a curb and Cleland pitched forward and fell out. He remembers flopping around helplessly in the dirt and cigarette butts in the gutter."

Last month, Olesker wrote: "On one of his first trips out, an old girlfriend pushed his wheelchair around Washington. Near the White House, the wheelchair hit a curb. Cleland pitched forward and fell out, flopping around in dirt and cigarette butts in a gutter."

At the time of the Dec. 24 correction, Franklin also ordered a review of Olesker's columns of recent years. That review was under way when he resigned and Franklin said that unfortunately it had not found the pattern that City Paper's research revealed.

"We didn't just set out to investigate Olesker for any reason," Dechter said Wednesday. "It was just that The Sun ran this correction on the 24th and it looked like an interesting story."

Below are similarities between columns written by Michael Olesker for The (Baltimore) Sun and stories that appeared in other newspapers. Compiled by Baltimore City Paper media columnist Gadi Dechter.

On July 3, 2003 Washington Post features writer Peter Carlson wrote:

"On one of his first trips out of the hospital, an old girlfriend pushed him around Washington in his wheelchair. Outside the White House, the chair hit a curb and Cleland pitched forward and fell out. He remembers flopping around helplessly in the dirt and cigarette butts in the gutter."

On Dec. 12, 2003 Olesker wrote:

"On one of his first trips out, an old girlfriend pushed his wheelchair around Washington. Near the White House, the wheelchair hit a curb. Cleland pitched forward and fell out, flopping around in dirt and cigarette butts in a gutter."

On Feb. 19, 2005, Washington Post reporters Matthew Mosk and Lena Sun wrote about a personnel controversy at state agencies:

"The state has been sued at least six times since Ehrlich took office by workers who alleged they were fired for no reason other than their political affiliation, which is illegal."

On March 1, 2005 Olesker wrote:

"The state has been sued at least six times since Ehrlich took office by workers who alleged they were fired for their political affiliation. That is against the law."

On Nov. 17, 2005, the Washington Posts John Wagner wrote about Wal-Mart's lobbying against legislation in the Maryland legislature.

" . . . the bill, which would require companies with more than 10,000 workers to spend at least 8 percent of their payrolls on health benefits or contribute to the states health insurance program for the poor."

Olesker wrote:

". . . a landmark bill (vetoed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.) that would require companies with more than 10,000 workers to spend at least 8 percent of their payrolls on health benefits or contribute to the states health insurance program for the poor."

On Aug. 27, 2004, the New York Times David Leonhard wrote on the uninsured poor.

"But the disparity in incomes between the rich and poor grew after having fallen in 2002. Pay did not keep pace with inflation in the South, already the nations poorest region, in cities, or among immigrants. And the wage gap between men and women widened for the first time in four years."

On Oct. 15, 2004, Olesker wrote:

"The disparity in incomes widened between the rich and the poor. Pay did not keep pace with inflation in the cities, among immigrants, or in the South, already the nations poorest region. And the wage gap between men and women widened."

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TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: fakebutaccurate; md4bush; michaelolesker; olesker; plagiarism; resignation; sun
Thank goodness they are doing a house cleaning. Have to tell you, it gives one pause to think of those in the news not putting out their own stuff.

Obviously those of the past have not taught anyone a lesson here.

1 posted on 01/04/2006 12:33:27 PM PST by Former Military Chick
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To: Former Military Chick

Why, he could be a Presidential candidate!..........


2 posted on 01/04/2006 12:36:10 PM PST by Red Badger (And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him)
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To: Former Military Chick

Old school journalists used plagarism to write articles. They used the work of others as "research". It was hard to get caught before Nexus and the internet.

New school journalists use DNC/DU/MoveOn faxes and outright fabrications to write articles. They are no longer handcuffed to the truth. After all, who is going to correct them?


3 posted on 01/04/2006 12:38:48 PM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: NCPAC; MD4Bush; xcullen; Anti-Bubba182; Mo1; cyncooper; BillF; crushkerry; Howlin; backhoe; ...
Ping!

Olekser was the Sun columnist who wrote sloppy, biased crap about NCPAC and the MD4Bush affair.

City Paper article link.
5 posted on 01/04/2006 1:10:18 PM PST by conservative in nyc
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To: sauropod; Lil'freeper

So sorry...NOT!! Don't let the door hit ya in the arse.


6 posted on 01/04/2006 1:11:49 PM PST by big'ol_freeper ("Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought." Pope JPII)
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To: Former Military Chick

This is a good day in Baltimore


7 posted on 01/04/2006 1:14:48 PM PST by Vision (“We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the duty of intelligent men")
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To: conservative in nyc

Thanks for the ping!


8 posted on 01/04/2006 1:15:12 PM PST by Jersey Republican Biker Chick (Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.)
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To: Former Military Chick
The bigger cockroach (The Sun) bites off the head of the smaller cockroach (Olesker). Cannibalism taking place inside the walls of the Baltimore Sun.

Just wait until the MD4BUSH story is fully exposed, it may look like "Lord Of The Flies" over there before its all over with.
9 posted on 01/04/2006 1:22:40 PM PST by TheForceOfOne
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To: Red Badger

...or at least work for one. I bet Joe Biden could use a speechwriter. ;)


10 posted on 01/04/2006 1:33:14 PM PST by Heatseeker (Never underestimate the left's tendency to underestimate us.)
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To: Heatseeker

All this guy would have had to do was write, "So-and-so said....." and he'd have been okay. Must've been really lazy..........


11 posted on 01/04/2006 1:35:48 PM PST by Red Badger (And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him)
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To: Red Badger
Years ago I remember visiting a very talented (and wickedly funny) local cartoonist and writer, Rick Kollinger, and complaining about the leftist bias of journalists. Rick responded that in his experience, many journalists weren't biased towards any particular political philosophy, unless you counted laziness and sloppiness as political philosophies.
12 posted on 01/04/2006 1:49:08 PM PST by Heatseeker (Never underestimate the left's tendency to underestimate us.)
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To: OldFriend; StarCMC; La Enchiladita; SoldiersSister; wagglebee; Peach; pbrown; A CA Guy; don-o; ...

PING

Perhaps we are finally cleaning house.


13 posted on 01/04/2006 3:18:41 PM PST by Former Military Chick (I salute all our Vets, those who walked before me and all those who walk after me.)
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To: Heatseeker; Red Badger
...or at least work for one. I bet Joe Biden could use a speechwriter. ;)

My first thought, before even reading much of the article! You beat me to it!

14 posted on 01/04/2006 3:23:49 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: Former Military Chick
that I made errors of sloppiness and inadvertence that were human mistakes and certainly not in any way willful

So he copied others works but didn't do it willfully, that's nice to know. These people just can't tell the truth can they?

15 posted on 01/04/2006 3:38:01 PM PST by calex59
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To: Former Military Chick; Admin Moderator
Actually, The Sun isn't leveling the allegation of plagiarism. They are spinning it as a less-serious offense:
The Sun’s correction described Olesker’s mistake as a failure of attribution, not plagiarism, explaining that Olesker had recorded Carlson’s description in a notebook, in preparation for an April 2004 interview with Cleland. When he returned to the notebook 20 months later, according to the correction, Olesker mistook his close paraphrase of the Post paragraph as his own interview notes.
[...]
“It really was a mistake,” Libit says. “A panel of editors got together and talked about it with Mike [Olesker], and he retrieved the notebook and we looked at it, and it truly was a mistake and inadvertent.”
[...]
After satisfying themselves that Olesker’s near-copy of Carlson’s language was accidental, the committee of editors drafted the correction, which ran on Saturday, Dec. 24. The correction does not use the word “plagiarism” to describe Olesker’s mistake, Libit says, because “this wasn’t a case where [Olesker] was trying to take a shortcut or was intentionally copying from another source. This was a case where 20 months later his notes were unclear.” When asked whether the newspaper is taking disciplinary action, Libit says, “I can’t talk about that,” but adds that Olesker’s column will continue to run as usual.
The problem comes when other examples were so readily found. This shows that The Sun has not fully explained the actions of its former columnist (although he might be described as "habitually sloppy"...both with unattributed quotes and facts!).
16 posted on 01/04/2006 3:38:56 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: Gondring

To clarify, I'm not sure any allegations of "plagiarism" have been made.


17 posted on 01/04/2006 3:39:50 PM PST by Gondring (I'll give up my right to die when hell freezes over my dead body!)
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To: TheForceOfOne
Just wait until the MD4BUSH story is fully exposed,

Will it ever be, or will it always be on the peripheral?

18 posted on 01/04/2006 3:41:43 PM PST by processing please hold (Islam and Christianity do not mix ----9-11 taught us that)
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To: Former Military Chick
Perhaps we are finally cleaning house.

I hope you're right.

19 posted on 01/04/2006 3:43:18 PM PST by processing please hold (Islam and Christianity do not mix ----9-11 taught us that)
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To: Former Military Chick

20 posted on 01/04/2006 3:46:00 PM PST by StAnDeliver
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To: conservative in nyc

Olesker is famous for seizing upon the smallest issues and blowing them out of proportion in an effort to tar anyone not as liberal as he is (especially Ehrlich and Republicans).... but apparently Mr. Olesker is incapable of consistently developing original thoughts to accompany his smears.


21 posted on 01/04/2006 3:49:02 PM PST by mr.sarcastic (non-taxpayer funded smear machine)
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To: Former Military Chick

Olesker isn't just a plagiarist. He regularly distorted facts or flat-out made them up in order to bolster his opinions. The Sun always let him get away with it because they agreed with his opinions. They used the excuse that he had license to do so because he wrote opinion pieces, not "hard news".

Apparently they couldn't find an excuse to let him get away with outright plagiarism (even though they merely referred to it as 'failure to appropriately attribute' or some such).

BTW, he used to do those 30-second opinion pieces for one of the Balimer TV stations, too. Not only did he have the same journalistic integrity in producing those, but he's ugly and has one of the most annoying voices I've ever heard, to boot.


22 posted on 01/04/2006 3:50:16 PM PST by No Longer Free State (No event has just one cause, no person has just one motive, no action has just the intended effect)
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To: Former Military Chick
PING


Thank you.
23 posted on 01/04/2006 4:01:57 PM PST by Gucho
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To: conservative in nyc
Olesker will be easily replaced by someone even worse.

This is really nothing to cheer.

Better would be that the Sun was disbanded and the assets sold to more deserving owners.

24 posted on 01/04/2006 4:21:14 PM PST by muawiyah (-)
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To: Former Military Chick
Franklin said he didn't believe Olesker's resignation would affect the lawsuit, because arguments already have been made in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. Franklin also said the lawsuit is "bigger than one individual."

If David Nitkin is fired, indicted, resigns, or otherwise departs does the "Sun Papers Right to access MD State Officials" lawsuit become moot?.

25 posted on 01/04/2006 4:22:27 PM PST by ricks_place
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To: Heatseeker

That was then; this is now. Anyone who doesn't see that the vast majority of Old Media people are leftist promoters is one himself.


26 posted on 01/04/2006 4:35:58 PM PST by little jeremiah
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To: Former Military Chick

Can I do a little dance?


27 posted on 01/04/2006 4:37:32 PM PST by little jeremiah
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To: conservative in nyc

It's just more evidence of the liberal echo chamber.

Liberals get one meme going and then they parrot it to each other.

So it's hardly surprising to see this sort of parroting in print.

28 posted on 01/04/2006 4:58:10 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: conservative in nyc

Thanks, that is interesting. I wonder how much of this he has done over the years?


29 posted on 01/04/2006 5:42:25 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: Former Military Chick
Unfortunately, The Baltimore Pravda was just forced to throw one columnist over the side because he got caught red-handed by the even more liberal City Paper. This will in no way have an impact on the paper acting as the PR department for the Maryland DemocRAT party or the O'Malley campaign.
30 posted on 01/04/2006 8:17:25 PM PST by RebelBanker (If you can't do something smart, do something right.)
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To: conservative in nyc; NCPAC

well, lets ping him


31 posted on 01/04/2006 10:10:16 PM PST by GeronL (http://flogerloon.blogspot.com)
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To: Former Military Chick

Thank you for the ping!


32 posted on 01/04/2006 10:13:31 PM PST by Alamo-Girl (Monthly is the best way to donate to Free Republic!)
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To: Former Military Chick

BUMP!


33 posted on 01/04/2006 10:15:09 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: big'ol_freeper; Lil'freeper; kristinn; Doctor Raoul; tgslTakoma; Angelwood; Trueblackman; ...

Oh Happy Day!!

Saint Olesker has been Baltimordor's version of Rank Fish for a very long time. I have despised his "reportage" and his constant ducking of any public forum where he would actually have to answer criticism for an equal length of time. Oh happy day!!!

"I hope that people will understand that in the course of deadline pressures and trying to take a jumble of facts and boil them down to something understandable that I made errors of sloppiness and inadvertence that were human mistakes and certainly not in any way willful," Olesker told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Barbra Streisand.

34 posted on 01/05/2006 4:51:50 AM PST by sauropod (Follow the Gourd! Follow the Gourd!)
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To: No Longer Free State

Saint Olesker is one of the most arrogant public people I have ever seen.

I used to HATE his TV appearances (the one minute opinion bloviation) on JZ.


35 posted on 01/05/2006 4:54:40 AM PST by sauropod (Follow the Gourd! Follow the Gourd!)
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To: Former Military Chick; sauropod
Olesker said Wednesday that he and the newspaper have "been under tremendous pressure politically"

Pffffft! Typical liberal response when caught red-handed in undeniable wrongdoing: "The VRWC made me do it!"

36 posted on 01/05/2006 5:40:56 AM PST by shezza (36 days)
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To: sauropod

Yep. Bloviation. Good word.


37 posted on 01/05/2006 5:31:31 PM PST by No Longer Free State (No event has just one cause, no person has just one motive, no action has just the intended effect)
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To: Former Military Chick
Last month, Olesker wrote: "On one of his first trips out, an old girlfriend pushed his wheelchair around Washington. Near the White House, the wheelchair hit a curb. Cleland pitched forward and fell out, flopping around in dirt and cigarette butts in a gutter."

Speaking of plagiarism, this reminds me of an old Henny Youngman joke (from http://funny2.com/henny.htm ): A man is at the bar, drunk. I pick him up off the floor, and offer to take him home. On the way to my car, he falls down three times. When I get to his house, I help him out of the car, and on the way to the front door, he falls down four more times. I ring the bell, and say, "Here's your husband!" The man's wife says, "Where's his wheelchair?"

Cheers!

38 posted on 01/05/2006 8:42:55 PM PST by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: conservative in nyc

Busted~!

Thanks for the ping :-)


39 posted on 01/07/2006 3:06:28 AM PST by Da Mav
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