George Stephanopoulos fails to bark!


Pretends Rand Paul gave an answer: The Rand Paul plagiarism flap became even more faux this weekend.

First, Paul added to the foolishness. Then, George Stephanopoulos stoutly refused to bark.

When we left this big pile of Dumb, some speech-writer had cut-and-pasted summaries of two movies into two speeches by Paul. It was a very dumb thing to do—but as a “plagiarism scandal,” it was also utterly pointless.

This didn’t stop Rachel Maddow from wasting her time, night after night, with this nonsense last week. Yesterday, Paul pretended to discuss the “issue” on This Week

In fairness, it’s always possible that Paul simply doesn’t understand what his speech-writers did. More likely, he was just throwing gorilla dust at George Stephanopoulos, pretending he didn’t understand.

Here you see some of the pompous piddle he directed at Lonesome George:
PAUL (11/3/13): Well, you know, the footnote police have really been dogging me for the last week. I will admit that. And I will admit sometimes we haven't footnoted things properly. In fact, I've given thousands of speeches, and I don't think I've ever footnoted any of those speeches.

In the speech in question, I quoted from 1984, Gattaca, My Left Foot, Michelangelo, Einstein and Ray Bradbury, among maybe a dozen others. And I attributed everything or attributed everything to them, but I didn't get into the secondary sources and say I quoted Einstein as according to an AP story or as according to Wikipedia.

[Viewers struggle to stay awake]

So I think the spoken word shouldn't be held to the same sort of standard that you have if you're giving a scientific paper. I've written scientific papers. I know how to footnote things. But we've never footnoted speeches. And if that's the standard I'm going to be held to, yes, we will change, and we will footnote things.

Everything in that paper, if I had presented it for an—or that speech for an academic publication, we'd have had footnotes next to it. In some of the other things that are now going to pop up, under thousands of things I've written, yeah, there are times when they've been sloppy or not correct or we've made an error.

But the difference is I take it as an insult, and I will not lie down and say people can call me dishonest, misleading or misrepresenting. I have never intentionally done so. And like I say, if—you know, if dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it'd be a duel challenge. But I can't do that because I can't hold office in Kentucky.
Obviously, this whole silly flap has nothing to do with footnotes. Beyond that, Paul plainly wasn’t accused of “quoting from Gattaca.”

In fact, he wasn’t “accused” of anything. It’s obvious that he, or one of his speechwriters, simply copied Wikipedia’s summaries of a couple of films. He read those Wikipedia summaries when he gave those speeches.

It always possible that Paul doesn’t understand that. More likely, he has decided to play it dumb, although we don’t know why.

Here’s the problem: Stephanopoulos simply accepted Paul’s absurd “explanation.” Obviously, Paul’s long, extremely pompous statement failed to address what has actually happened—the fact that he read a pair of film summaries from Wikipedia, word-for-word, in a couple of speeches.

As it stands, the flap is utterly pointless, but Paul’s response didn’t make any sense. As if he knew his own role in the dance, Stephanopoulos acted as if he didn’t know that!

Here’s how the session continued:
STEPHANOPOULOS (continuing directly): So what's the fix?

PAUL: Well, we're going to have to footnote things, like I say. But here's the problem, George. Ninety-eight percent of my speeches are extemporaneous. I spoke for 13 hours on the floor extemporaneous. And so it is a little bit hard to footnote things accurately. And I'll give you an example. I love the quote from Niall Ferguson, you know, referring to the president saying, oh, I'm—that the deficit's declining, and Niall Ferguson says yeah, from super enormous to really, really gigantic. And I love the quote. But is that enough, or do I have to say, as I heard or read on AP story about Niall Ferguson or as I heard when he was on with George Stephanopoulos? I mean, there is a sort of a certain degree when we're going to say, is that nitpicking?

[Viewers struggle for consciousness]

So is referring to the person enough, or do I have to refer to the original source, where I got the quote from the person? In an academic paper, even if you paraphrase something, don't even use the same words, anything's paraphrased has to be sourced.

[Viewers attempt to moderate snoring]

So when I wrote scientific papers, I sometimes had statements with eight footnotes for one sentence. Is that what you want me to do for my speeches? If it's required, I'll do it. But I think I'm being unfairly targeted by a bunch of hacks and haters, and I'm just not going to put up with people casting aspersions on my character.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. That's an extensive answer. Thank you very much, Senator Paul.
Surely, Stephanopoulos knew that Paul’s response was a big, non-responsive puddle of pompous warm piddle. But he didn’t point this out!

At the end, he even credited Paul with giving “an extensive answer!” We’ve never seen George more false!

The fraudulence of elite discourse seems to grow by the week. In this case, Maddow invented a silly non-scandal. Paul then gave a ludicrous non-response response.

In turn, Stephanopoulos agreed to pretend that Paul had given “an extensive answer.” And needless to say, no such Kabuki is complete these days without a word from Joan Walsh.

In this typical post at Salon, Walsh pretends to be upset about Paul’s desire for a duel. The headline refers to “Rand Paul’s wacko public meltdown.”

It seemed to us that Paul was funnin’ when he made the statement about the duel. But everyone seems to know his or her role in these gonzo pseudo-debates.

Stephanopoulos was there to pretend that an answer had been given. As always, Joan was there to pretend that we liberals should be upset.

All these people are getting paid. Everyone else is getting served big giant helpings of The Dumb. In the process, American culture is getting dumbed to the ground.


  1. It's obvious Paul's a reader from the way he mispronounces "Niall." He's obviously never heard it said aloud.

    BTW, I heard Paul quoted Ayn Rand recently and got an angry call from Paul Ryan for not naming him as the secondary source.

    1. I've never heard "Niall" either. How is it pronounced?

  2. Very nice post!

  3. Fine post as usual.

  4. It's obvious what Paul gets out of his statement. Paul gets to demonstrate some anti-intellectualism by poking fun at the perfessers who footnote everything, making himself one of the regular people who scoff at pretension. Professors are part of the liberal elite. He showed his distance from them by disdaining academic conventions.

    1. No. He claimed the he has written scientific papers with proper footnotes.

  5. So what's the over/under on the number of days Bob spends to tell us how pointless and trivial this all is?

    1. Side bet. Now that Chris Hayes has picked up the story,
      the odds are even that each time Bob beats this dead caballo he'll lament the lack of attention to children of color on The One TLC.

    2. Bob is waiting for the right-wing spin about "What Biden did was much worse . . ." before he can repeat it here and stick to his claim that plagiarism is no big deal.

  6. Bob, you're spinning the story yourself. Lifting without attribution is a habit so it's perfectly reasonable to see one or two or three instances then look for more.
    Now he's lifted an op ed column on mandatory minimums.
    Here's a bold prediction: they'll find more. Paul himself is also spinning. In one of the interviews he hinted that they would find more and dismissed those, too.
    Paul was immunizing himself from what he knew would be further revelations. Maddow was right to pursue it.

    1. And now the plot thickens. Seems that Paul lifted some 1300 words from an old Heritage Foundation report and dropped it into his book without proper attribution.

      Quite the serial plagiarist, it seems.

  7. sort of unrelated.......Axelrod said on Meet The Press that they did not do focus groups on Hillary as vp, just one poll. Yet, all day CNN was airing people saying that they had run focus groups. One guy even stumbled as he said focus group, presumably because he knew he was lying. I found it amazing so many would mislead.

  8. What are Rand Paul's views on the economy, foreign policy, etc.? Our journalists should be discussing that extensively. They prefer gossip.