Mike Rosen plagiarizes himself in Denver Post column? He says he did nothing wrong

Categories: Media

mike rosen photo cropped not denver post.JPG
Mike Rosen.
Update below: This week, a tipster informed yours truly (and Colorado Pols) that KOA talk show host Mike Rosen had basically copied a 2008 column he wrote for the Rocky Mountain News and republished it in December as a Denver Post piece. Rather than simply running side-by-side excerpts, we shared the info with Rosen to get his take. His response in a nutshell? Yeah, I did it, and so what?

The similarities between "The 'Trickle-Down' Myth," published in the November 28, 2008 Rocky, and "'Trickle Down' a Democratic Epithet," are so striking that they don't leave much room for deniability. Here's a segment from the Rocky item:

Defaming supply-side economics contemptuously as "trickle-down" has been a Democratic standby for years, with one notable exception. After John F. Kennedy was elected president in 1960, he persuaded Congress to reduce the confiscatory top marginal tax rate, then 90 percent, down to a mere 70 percent. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York in 1962, JFK explained: "In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues too low -- and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut tax rates now."

Under the Kennedy tax-rate cuts, as predicted, revenues grew. Twenty years later, when tax rates were cut even more under Ronald Reagan, federal tax revenues again soared with the "rich" paying an increasingly greater share of the income tax burden. Since it was now a Republican initiating this policy, Democrats branded it "Reaganomics" and mocked it as half-baked, "trickle-down" economics.

And here's its equivalent in the Post offering:

A rare exception was Democratic President John F. Kennedy, who persuaded Congress to cut income tax rates across the board, including the top rate, then more than 90 percent, down to a mere 70 percent. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York in 1962, JFK explained: "In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues too low -- and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut tax rates now." Under the Kennedy tax-rate cuts, as predicted, revenues grew.

Twenty years later, when tax rates were cut even more under Ronald Reagan, federal tax revenues again soared with the "rich" paying an increasingly greater share of the income tax burden. Since it was now a Republican initiating this policy, Democrats branded it "Reaganomics" and mocked it as half-baked, "trickle-down" economics.

The tipster pointed out that Rosen had taken this tack at least once before via two Rocky columns, the 2004 salvo "Party Still Trumps Person," which I could no longer find online (I tracked it down using the Nexis data base), and 2008's "Party Trumps Person." But Rosen traded Ted Kennedy for Charles Schumer from the first election cycle to the second. Here's a snippet from 2004:

Now, let's say you're a registered Republican voter who clearly prefers the Republican philosophy of governance. And you're a good-natured, well-intentioned person who happens to like an individual Democrat, a Senate candidate, who's somewhat conservative. You decide to cross party lines and vote for him.

As it turns out, he wins, beating a Republican and giving the Democrats a one-vote majority, 51-49, in the U.S. Senate.

Congratulations! You just got Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein and Hillary Clinton as key committee chairs, and a guarantee that your Republican legislative agenda will be stymied.

And here's how the segment looked in 2008:

Let's say you're a registered Republican who prefers that party's philosophy of governance. And you're a fair-minded, well-intentioned person who happens to like a certain moderately conservative Democrat running for U.S. Senate. So you decide to cross party lines and vote for him. As it turns out, he wins, giving Democrats a one-vote majority, 51-49. Congratulations! You just got Charles Schumer, Patrick Leahy, Diane Feinstein and Hillary Clinton as key committee chairs and a guarantee that your Republican legislative agenda will be stymied.

When contacted about the columns, Rosen responded via e-mail with this: "So what? I've been writing columns for 30 years. What's his point, that I'm plagiarizing myself? No need to reinvent the wheel when the same issues resurface. Presumably, some new readers haven't read all my past columns. As William F. Buckley, Jr. once said, 'Repetition is the price of mastery.' I'm flattered that your 'tipster' follows me so closely. Sounds like someone who disagrees with my views wanting to be a nuisance."

In a subsequent exchange, Rosen wrote more specifically about the columns in question. About the first pair, he notes that "when I've discussed this on the air, I've said as long as the left continues to misrepresent supply-side economics as 'trickle down,' I'll keep rewriting this column."

Regarding party trumping politics, he adds, "I write this at least every four years when there's a presidential election and discuss it frequently on air. It's a new concept to many people. I labor to explain this to conservatives who might waste their vote on third-party candidates and help Democrats get elected, as Naderites helped Bush beat Gore in 2000."

Based on this last comment, readers can look forward to seeing the "trump" column again next year. Until then, there's a certain irony in the fact that the first copyright-infringement lawsuit filed by Nevada's Righthaven LLC on behalf of the Post charged a South Carolina blogger for republishing a Rosen column without permission.

What does the Post braintrust think about all this? I will be sending a link to this report to editor Greg Moore. When he or another Post representative gets back to us, we'll update.

Update, 10:33 a.m.: Just received a statement from Denver Post editorial page editor Dan Haley about this topic. He writes:

We expect all columns published in our section to be original work and I recently told Mike this. While it's true that you can't plagiarize yourself, and it's easy to simply lift paragraphs from your previous work as a way to provide background or supporting information, I expect writers to let readers know when they're doing that.

More from our Media archive: "Brian Hill: Hobby blogger sued by MediaNews & Righthaven is 20, chronically ill, autistic."

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36 comments
Jack McCullough
Jack McCullough

Is he really plagiarizing himself?

It seems to me that he's misappropriating the intellectual property of the Rocky Mountain News. I bet he doesn't own the rights to the columns he wrote for them while in their employ.

mauman
mauman

On last Mondays radio show (Feb. 21, 9AM podcast) Rosen said that he was merely rehashing old topics and ideas. He said: "As for using the same wording; if I've perfected the explanation, there's no need to paraphrase it. And this is fresh information to new listeners."

Rosen is not exactly forthcoming. Here's what he actually did. He didn't feel like writing an original column, so he brought up the old one on his computer and made a few changes to it: he wrote a new introduction, changed some words here and there, and altered the paragraph structure (easily done using cut and past). The only reason he went to this much trouble was to hide the fact that he was resubmitting an old column. He knew he was goldbricking and he tried to cover it up.

Mike Rosen and Dan Haley make it sound as though Rosen merely reused a phrase or a paragraph. No. In both cases Rosen essentially resubmitted an entire column, and he apparently got full payment for them.

One point of real substance: In his "trickle-down" columns, Rosen says that the Reagan income tax rate cuts caused federal tax revenues to "soar." Actually, of the six decades since World War II, the 1980s had the second worst income tax revenue performance. The worst decade, of course, is the 2000s.

The numbers come from the Historical Tables in the U.S. Budget, which you can get online. The individual income tax revenues for each year are found in Table 2.1. The composite deflators for each year, which are used to adjust for inflation, are found in Table 1.3.

Here's the growth, by decade, of federal income tax revenues:

1950s +87.6%1960s +63.5%1970s +24.5%1980s +20.8%1990s +67.9%2000s -27.2%

If the income tax revenues "soared" during the 1980s, what words should be used to describe the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1990s?

Mrs. Tina Rosevechski
Mrs. Tina Rosevechski

This punk is shameless and hapless. In other words, he is a numbskull and a nincompoop. And he proves it time and time again day in and day out with his blatherings and propagana. Get out Rosen, and move on to Costa Rica.

GFTW
GFTW

Looking forward to WW going after that blathering idiot, Mike Twittwin. Yeah, not likely to happen...

CONative
CONative

ARE YOU SERIOUS. Do you Libs not have anything better to do? YOU CAN'T PLAGIARIZE ONESELF.

Richtom
Richtom

This is exhibit A of why Mike Rosen is nothing but an old hack with tired ideas. He's so lazy he can't even take the time to rewrite his old hackneyed RMN column.Just stealin money Mike. Great country isn't it?

100
100

Plagiarism has two bad aspects: one aspect is cheating the person you're copying from. The other is misleading the reader and/or your employer that you're writing then for them. In this case, he's only doing the latter. If he was honest about it "As I wrote four years ago..." then it's not a problem ethically (though whether his employer would keep paying him is another question).

This guy sounds like a hack though, so none of this surprises me.

Richardowenprice
Richardowenprice

You have to be kidding. You wasted a whole column on this? And please don't give me that old line about how you're not taking a position when you devoted a whole column to it. The media is the message, pal. Get a life.

Guest
Guest

The copying doesn't have to be verbatim to violate the copyright of an existing work, but a lot depends upon which party owns the specific rights at issue as to whether or not infringement or a breach of contract occurred in this case.

As the creator of a work, Rosen would own the copyrights to the text of his columns, at least initially. By way of contract he may have assigned some or all of those rights to the Rocky (for the first column) and/or made certain representations/warranties to D. Post as the originality/non-infringement of columns he submits for publication there.

But it is possible that his contracts with both papers allowed him to retain the rights to create derivative works (arguably the case with this follow-on column), made no restriction on his re-use of material, or did not require him to make any rep/warranty or indemnify the Post. There is not enough info to say one way or another.

But I agree with the other commenter, that using the phrase 'plagiarism' just confuses the issue...even if Rosen did not or could not plagiarize himself, it does not necessarily mean he did nothing wrong.

Joe
Joe

The shame about this article is that a compelling topic is being lost on an incorrect term that seems to be used as a shock tactic, as well as incomplete reporting.

Rosen didn't plagiarize, which makes the headline wrong. A better headline and focus for the story: "Mike Rosen Recycles Column: Do Readers Deserve to Know They're Reading a Rerun?" That's the heart of the debate, whether Rosen needed to inform readers and his employer that he was recycling. Unfortunately, it's lost under a loaded buzzword like plagiarism, and everyone is arguing about that instead of what matters.

As far as the incomplete reporting, there's an assumption made that Rosen violated copyright. The copying isn't necessarily a breach of copyright because it's not verbatim. It all depends on what type of contract/work agreement that Rosen operated under at the Rocky Mountain News. The paper could only hold the rights to that piece as it appears, not the notes or information he gathered. For instance, a music writer at a paper could write a review of a Beck concert for that paper and then write another one of that same concert for Rolling Stone without it being an issue (as long as the paper didn't feel there was competitive conflict). That writer just couldn't use the exact same review in both places.

I disagree with the commenters who claim there's nothing to talk about when it comes to what Rosen did. Because there is. Plenty. Sadly, this article gives those detractors ammo to derail the real debate.

Heresathought
Heresathought

Would the current owner of the Rocky Mountain News archives be interested in Rosen's "borrowing" of their copyrighted material? If Rosen received compensation for his work with the Rocky, and the Rocky reserved all rights to their printed content, maybe Righthaven should become involved. Any attorney want to weigh in?

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

"Mike Rosen plagiarizes himself in Denver Post column? He says he did nothing wrong."

Michael Roberts --- And your point is............? Mike Rosen didn't do anything wrong. So what's your gripe?

CU Foundation
CU Foundation

It's really more about the difference between journalism and talk radio. In journalism, repetition is a bad thing, and repetition of others is considered 'plagiarism.' In talk radio, repetition is considered 'reinforcement,' and is a plus: especially when the goal is to bludgeon people with blunt opinions. Rosen's more of a talk radio guy than a journalist. Hence, this attitude.

wmyers4224
wmyers4224

He may be rehashing, but all of it is his work and he can use it as he sees fit, although it certainly would have helped if he had included a statement such as, "I wrote in an earlier article that..." and also cited where his original comments appeared. It may be laziness, but it is not plagiarism. Is there something you don't understand about that? Your comparison of his current comments to his previous comments makes you look foolish and misguided, since this is not a case of plagiarism. Do you actually believe a person can plagiarize their own work? If you do, then maybe it's time for you to do something else.

dondiwilliams
dondiwilliams

I think Cee Lo Green has a hit song using the words that Rosen is trying to convey :)

journalist
journalist

Plagiarism involves representing someone else's work as your own. Rosen is not plagiarizing. It's lazy, but not unethical.

Pete
Pete

I don't really understand the point of this article. By definition one cannot plagiarize oneself. What is your issue here?

Scotch Neat
Scotch Neat

The fact that Mike Rosen is an unapologetic and unethical douchebag should really no longer surprise us.

Instead, what's surprising is that he still has an audience at all. One would hope that pointing things like this out would have some negative effect on his "authority" as a commentator, but apparently not. I'm not sure who's more to blame for this...the Post for letting it stand (so far), or his audience, for paying any attention to him at all.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Interesting information, mauman. Thanks for sharing it.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Do you have any examples of Mike Littwin reprinting old columns without acknowledging it? Let us know, GFTW -- and thanks for posting.

Guest
Guest

You're right -- as long as he upholds the basics of journalism, a skill Mike Rosen doesn't possess (among many other skills he doesn't possess, like critical thinking).

GFTW
GFTW

No, libs have nothing better to do!

Guest
Guest

Mike Rosen -- just another hack putting the "con" in "conservative."

Guest
Guest

His best response is "so what?" If Hickenlooper got caught doing something like this, Rosen and Peter Boils would be screaming to high heaven. All his apologists can do is point out that it's not technically plagiarism if you steal from yourself. Fair enough. It would likely be a far better column if Rosen did actually steal it from someone else. At least it would contain an original thought.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

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P
P

Poor wittle Mikey got busted for being a lazy hack and operating in a manner that clearly violates his employer's expectations "We expect all columns published in our section to be original work" I agree the term plagiarism is a distraction--perhaps: "Is Mike Rosen Just a Lazy Hack or a Deliberate Cheat"?

Pete
Pete

I think you and Joe make good points. How would damages be calculated for a copyright violation? I can't see how the Rocky could have any damages but I would think the Post could argue for some type of damages. Presumably they will fire him if they feel the damages exceed his contribution.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Very interesting thought, Heresathought. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for sharing your take.

Mberly
Mberly

He's stealing money from the DP which is paying him to produce original content. In addition, he's a lazy, unethical asshat.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

ScubaSteve, I'm trying to present the facts, not take a position. Some people clearly believe he did something wrong in this instance; others agree with him that he didn't. Each reader can reach his or her own conclusion. Thanks for posting.

mikem2
mikem2

From the Post's perspective He may not have plagiarized, but I would argue that he did something wrong. If I'm paying Rosen for X number of columns with Y words per week, I'm expecting original material. If I want to run a Best of Mike Rosen column, I wouldn't pay nearly as much as I would for an original article.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Love this post, dondiwilliams. Thanks for commenting.

GFTW
GFTW

YAWN, there's plenty of other crap to go after Twittwin for, rather than petty, non-issue "self-plagiarism".

Pete
Pete

Michael,

Where do you get off saying you are presenting the facts when your headline is factually incorrect? Your use of the word "plagiarizes" is wrong and you have been called out on it. Your refusal to acknowledge this clearly shows that you HAVE taken a position.

GFTW
GFTW

YAWN. You're no genius, nor a sir.

Guest
Guest

REALLY good response, GFTW. Boy, you showed Michael Roberts when he tried to call your lame-ass bluff! YAWN. You, sir, are a genius.

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