McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wikipedia

For all of McCain's supposed experience and knowledge of foreign affairs, one would think that he would be able to articulate an original thought regarding the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia.  Alas, this is not the case, unless of course McCain moonlights as an editor for Wikipedia.  Per Political Insider:

A Wikipedia editor notices some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. They appear similar enough that most people would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived directly from Wikipedia.

First instance:

one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity as an official religion (Wikipedia)

vs.

one of the world's first nations to adopt Christianity as an official religion (McCain)

Second instance:

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Georgia had a brief period of independence as a Democratic Republic (1918-1921), which was terminated by the Red Army invasion of Georgia. Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 and regained its independence in 1991. Early post-Soviet years was marked by a civil unrest and economic crisis. (Wikipedia)

vs.

After a brief period of independence following the Russian revolution, the Red Army forced Georgia to join the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union crumbled at the end of the Cold War, Georgia regained its independence in 1991, but its early years were marked by instability, corruption, and economic crises. (McCain)

http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/politicalins ider/2008/08/did-mccain-plagarize-his-sp eec.html

I imagine that if called on it, McCain would bluster on about Obama's use of a few lines first spoken by Deval Patrick, but this episode arguably strikes at the core of McCain's campaign, which is all about his supposed "experience" in a time of international turmoil.  If anyone would be as well versed on international affairs after reading Wikipedia as McCain, then what exactly entitles him to be President?

Tags: Georgia, mccain, russia, wikipedia (all tags)

Comments

17 Comments

Re: McCain Steals Speech on Russia from Wikipedia

Did you read what you posted ?

by lori 2008-08-11 10:23AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Steals Speech on Russia from

Sure - what are you getting at?

by rfahey22 2008-08-11 10:27AM | 0 recs
Oh, be fair.

McCain knows what he gets told. If it isn't in his manila folder, it isn't in his vocabulary. And he DAMN sure doesn't write his own speeches.

by vcalzone 2008-08-11 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

I don't really get it.  These are basic facts about a country, and if the speechwriter really did consult Wikipedia, the wording is rewritten enough to not be plagiarism.  If Georgia was, in fact, one of the first countries to make Christianity its official religion, Wikipedia doesn't own that fact.

by Steve M 2008-08-11 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

Steve,

You obviously don't understand plagiarism.  Either that, or you are a McCain apologist and McTroll.  I counted several words that were literally stolen from the Wikipedia piece.  For example, the McCain uses the word "Georgia."  Guess what?  So does Wikipedia.  Plus the word "to", plus the word "the" (on more than one occasion) plus some other words too.

If you won't denounce such blatant plagiarism, how far will you go to defend McCain!  Get out of here, McTroll!!

by markjay 2008-08-11 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

I stand corrected.  I hereby denounce AND reject it.

by Steve M 2008-08-11 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

But to incorporate material from a user-created online encyclopedia is a bit questionable, no?  I mean, are we to assume that McCain's people have in fact verified this information?  If Wikipedia is one of their sources, are we to believe that they rely on anything more authoritative?  

Granted, this is a small story in the grand scheme of things, but it does not give me any more confidence that McCain actually knows what he's talking about in the sphere of foreign affairs.

by rfahey22 2008-08-11 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

Thing is, most of the information from Wikipedia comes from other, more reliable sources.  In fact, I think it's all supposed to be that way.  So I mean, whoever wrote the initial entry on Georgia probably cribbed it from Britannica or some other offline source.

The result is that all authoritative sources pretty much end up sounding the same, at least on the level of basic, noncontroversial facts.  So if you wrote a sentence based upon what you read in the Encyclopedia Britannica, you'd probably end up with a sentence that sounded a lot like Wikipedia, even if you'd never been to Wikipedia.  Heck, suggesting that McCain cribs from Wikipedia is probably giving him more credit for tech-savviness than he deserves!

by Steve M 2008-08-11 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

Heh, that was always the flip side of the article - he gets 'teh internets.'  

by rfahey22 2008-08-11 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

Plagiarism doesn't mean word-for-word copying. It's using research without citing the source. It's still plagiarism if you rewrite the material in your own words. (In fact, rewriting the material makes things worse, because it points to a deliberate attempt to deceive rather than the simple carelessness of dropping the attribution.)

Now, obviously the citation rules for political speeches aren't very strict. We don't expect the speaker to insert a footnote every two or three sentences. We do expect the campaign to be able to provide cites for any controversial statements of fact on request.

So Sen. McCain is really the victim here. He's presumably spent lots and lots of his wife's money hiring experts on world politics, who can gather information from diverse and conflicting sources and come up with a best-guess explanation of what's happening and what we should do about it. If all he got was a rewritten Wikipedia cut'n'paste, then he didn't get his wife's money's worth.

I don't want to die in a nuclear war just because a Wikipedia article was in the middle of a 4chan vandalism war when somebody's intern copied it.

by mazement 2008-08-11 12:38PM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

Plagiarism:

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

by frankly0 2008-08-11 10:45AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

Strange, since I didn't use that word here.

by rfahey22 2008-08-11 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

You link to an article entitled "Did McCain Plagiarize His Speech on the Georgia Crisis?"

Take away the charge of "plagiarism", and what's left?

by frankly0 2008-08-11 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

I'm not accusing McCain of plagiarism, I'm saying that his supposed knowledge of foreign affairs is not very well established.  You or I could quote from Wikipedia and give a few opinions on the current crisis and those opinions would be just as valid as those contained in McCain's speech; the only difference is that McCain is perceived to be an expert on foreign affairs for some nebulous reason.  He gets away with this sloppiness precisely because people trust him and give him the benefit of the doubt, when in fact there's no evidence that we should do so.

by rfahey22 2008-08-11 11:16AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain Lifts Parts of Russian Speech from Wiki

The press release is simply establishing a very quick historical perspective. Wikipedia is as good a reference as any to base such a summary perspective on.

It's hardly as if McCain's judgment about who's the aggressor and who's the victim in the current conflict has anything to do with how exactly that summary is expressed, and what reference might be used as the basis of that summary.

Take away the charge of plagiarism, and you've got nothing.

by frankly0 2008-08-11 11:47AM | 0 recs
Better headline

"McCain lifts facts from the reference place!"

by Koan 2008-08-11 10:57AM | 0 recs
LOL

This reminds me of that episode of The West Wing where some guys are giving a briefing based on info out of the encyclopedia.

But I have to say that this does give McCain the edge over Obama in one area: Wikixperience.

by freedom78 2008-08-11 11:50AM | 0 recs

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