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

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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