Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter Plagiarized from Philadelphia Inquirer

A report says Chris Hedges lifted from a series on Camden written by Matt Katz, who used to cover New Jersey politics for the Inquirer.

A report in The New Republic today reveals that, in 2010, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges had plagiarized in a story about Camden he submitted to Harper’s. The pilfered prose? A 2009 series about Camden by then-Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Matt Katz.

Katz, who’s now at WNYC, says he hasn’t seen the piece that Harper’s editors determined Hedges cribbed from him. It didn’t run in the magazine. Hedges, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times for 15 years in the ’90s and early 2000s, has become a favorite political journalist of many liberals in the last 10 years. TNR’s Christopher Ketcham writes that he became defensive when confronted with the plagiarism.


"He got very heavy-handed about it," an anonymous fact checker at the magazine tells Ketcham. "He kept claiming that the people quoted in the Katz piece gave him the exact same quotes.” Weirdly, the story gives a bit of a boost to Katz's reporting and writing. Hedges' editor, Theodore Ross, declared the Hedges piece "a great story about a topic — poverty — that nobody covers enough." And since parts of it were cribbed from Katz, sweet!

Katz, who used to cover New Jersey politics (and write a dating column) at the Courier Post before heading to the Inquirer, is now working on a book about Chris Christie.

Hedges is described as a serial plagiarist by TNR, even cribbing from Ernest Hemingway in his 2002 book, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning. He hasn't written for Harper's since the Camden story was killed.

[The New Republic]

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  • Wolfenotes

    drive by shooting on a hit piece.

    Matt wisely stayed out of the fray – which originated in a dispute over Ketcham’s wife’s work over 4 years ago.

    Not all news is good news.

    • BumpIt McCarthy

      Ketcham is very upfront about the way Hedges stole from his wife, and provides extensive documentation of many instances where Hedges lifted, pilfered, laboriously thought-for-thought paraphrased, and otherwise ripped off his fellow writers. It’s practically a textbook on techniques in plagiarism. One might argue with a single instance of sloppiness or a printing error, but in the aggregate, it’s painfully obvious that Hedges has a problem. Ketcham may have been an interested party, but unlike Hedges, he made full disclosure and wrote a solidly substantiated piece.

      As a Liberal myself, who admired Hedges’ first book, it’s galling, not to say infuriating, to see Hedges’ bad behavior defended reflexively just because of his politics. Stop treating him as if he were the second coming just because you agree with him–he’s not infallible, and in fact he has done damage to the causes he believes in. And he’s robbed other writers of their work. For a big noise like Hedges, that’s especially egregious. And stupid.

      If anything, your comment is the drive-by hit: no addressing the substance of the issue, just a lame attack on the messenger. Read the article, if you haven’t already: the proof is all, devastatingly, there.

      • Wolfenotes

        Evidence is all there?

        The initial episode, which prompted the inquisition, the alleged theft of his wife’s work, doesn’t stand when subject to common sense. Why would Hedges verbatim plagiarize several paragraphs in a short essay in which HE CITED AND PRAISED THE PIECE?

        The original sin was not plagiarism, but an editing and formatting error by Truthdig, who incorrectly formatted a block quote.

        Have you ever made a formatting mistake in word or HTML/

        THe alleed 20 examples at Harper’s is backed by NO EVIDENCE – merely an anonymous fact checker source – who on top of refusing to be named, supplied no evidence at all.

        The Katz piece? The author, Matt Katz, did not go on the record and his tweet on the TNR piece says “apparently” he wa plagiarized.

        The Hemingway example is ludicrous – do people really rethink Hedges was “stealing” Hiemingway’s work?

        This was a hit piece, plain and simple, and the schadenfreude and opportunistic piling on is sickening.

        • BumpIt McCarthy

          Katz confirmed that they didn’t work together, as Hedges claimed — or LIED. That Katz didn’t go on the record soon enough for you, and used “apparently,” doesn’t change the fact that his text was essentially swiped and published unaltered, and Hedges had the stones to claim that he went to the very same sources, who said the very same things to him.

          The Harpers fact-checker would naturally not want to put his/her name out there in opposition to the 900-lb. literary Gorilla that is Celebrity Hedges. Champeen of the Good, but Harpers has not issued any statements challenging the truth of Ketcham’s story. Moreover, TNR certainly has lawyers who would have advised the story be killed as well if it weren’t solidly sourced. And since when do we go around demanding reporters reveal their sources?

          The claim that Hedges’ problems are merely incorrectly formatted block quotes doesn’t stand up when you read them side by side, and see that he went into the text to change it minutely. That is a red flag. In a genuine block quote, one doesn’t insert picayune adjustments to the quoted text, aside from ellipses where needed.

          Matt Katz, the other people Hedges robbed of credit, and the readers he tried to hoodwink are the victims here, not Hedges. It does defy common sense that he would take immense swathes of prose from a woman whose writing he praised and then incorporate them into his own piece without attribution. And yet that is exactly what he did.

          Your ideological blinders and unthinking hero-worship are plainly evident. If you believe at all in the right of a worker to be justly compensated for his labor, then you should admit that you’re enabling a celebrity plagiarist to swipe both credit and compensation belonging to a lesser-known, more industrious writer.

          The left has a bad habit of creating idols to worship and rely upon to save us if only….and of course they never do. But at least most of them are reasonably honest. Hedges has damaged himself, and all the causes he supposedly holds dear, and half the damage is being done by his enablers, whose efforts to cover for, excuse, or deny the truth of, his dishonesty are both shameful and embarrassing. The Right is having a field day with this, but at least as much of their glee is watching how hypocritical and intellectually fraudulent Hedges’ implacable army of admirers are.