Journalism, in part, is the work of turning up stones. Sometimes a reporter finds nothing underneath. Other times, he uncovers shock, scandal, or corruption.

An entire twentieth-century lore, beginning with The Jungle and culminating in the Watergate reporting, portrays the reporter as a man who stands against the corruption of institutions. But as the Left, which invented muckraking, has consolidated its power over those same institutions, the story has been recast.

Now, reporters for prestige publications defend, rather than interrogate, the organs of power. They seek to propagate official narratives and to discredit those who would question them. The establishment’s watchdogs have become its guard dogs.

I have observed this dynamic in recent months regarding academic plagiarism. I have been one of a handful of reporters, including Christopher Brunet, Aaron Sibarium, and Luke Rosiak, who flipped the rock in academia and discovered widespread fraud, plagiarism, and dishonesty. We exposed the president of Harvard, several DEI administrators, and professors in the grievance disciplines.

At first, the prestige press ignored these academics’ misbehavior. Then, under enormous pressure, they acknowledged it, couched with caveats and excuses. And finally, in the face of overwhelming evidence, they adopted the Left’s defensive counter-narrative, claiming that exposing plagiarism in academia is a form of “racial profiling” designed to “bully and intimidate” “Black women.”

They based this accusation on the racial identities of our targets. But I specifically tasked my researchers with investigating potential plagiarism by Harvard scholars and administrators of all racial groups. The initial evidence, though not systematic, pointed to an inconvenient result: a ponderance of plagiarism by academics who specialized in “diversity.”

Nevertheless, the Harvard student newspaper, mimicking the legacy press, cried foul. It called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and suggested that I was “[t]argeting [b]lack [f]aculty.” Jennifer Hochschild, a white professor of African-American studies, deemed our reporting a “targeted” attack on black women. The existence of racial disparities in our plagiarism reporting, they believed, was prima facie evidence of racist intent.

But we did not “target” black women. We examined Jennifer Hochschild’s work, for example, and did not find plagiarism. (In fact, Hochschild’s failure to plagiarize is contributing to the white-black plagiarism disparity at Harvard, and by her logic, is bolstering a white-supremacist narrative.) We simply found that individuals in this subgroup copied-and-pasted more than did individuals in other subgroups. Plagiarism is not committed by racial categories, but by individual scholars who choose to break the rules of academic honesty.

Our critics have clung to the mistaken notion that disparities can only result from discrimination. But in truth, numerous potential explanations exist for group inequalities. Racial and ethnic disparities are the rule, rather than the exception, in everything from income to education to athletics to ownership of nail salons and dry cleaners.

There is a reasonable alternative hypothesis to racism for our disparate plagiarism findings. First, universities have practiced decades of formal and informal affirmative action, recruiting, admitting, advancing, and hiring black scholars with lower standardized test scores than their white peers. Second, it stands to reason that grievance disciplines, such as critical racial studies and DEI administration, have lower academic standards than, say, astrophysics.

Put together, lower admissions standards and scholarly expectations could easily produce racially disproportionate outcomes when measured against general demographics.

There is only one way to know for sure. If our critics at Harvard are serious, they should conduct a systematic investigation of all Harvard faculty, to see if plagiarism disparities hold across all disciplines, departments, and demographics.

I would welcome such an investigation. But I will not hold my breath. There is a reason that these institutions do not turn over the rocks within their own walls.

Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images


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