Scott McInnis: Denver Post rushed to judgment, says writer in second plagiarism claim

Denver Post editor Greg Moore defends a story about an alleged second example of plagiarism by Scott McInnis, as well as the decision to deal with questions about it in an article that began with repudiations of McInnis by Rolly Fischer, the candidate's designated fall guy. But a writer McInnis allegedly plagiarized thinks the Post did him, and the public, wrong.

The critic in question is Daryl M. Plunk, a former Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst, who co-wrote a '90s-era piece on North Korea with Richard V. Allen. The Post noted similarities between that article and a column and speech McInnis delivered during the same time period by way of implying that he might have been a serial plagiarizer.

Earlier, the Post had established that portions of a McInnis essay on water -- written on assignment for the Hasan Family Foundation, which paid him $300,000 for his efforts -- had been more or less lifted from an earlier work by Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs. McInnis attempted to pin the blame for this on Fischer, a man in his early eighties, who subsequently told Channel 7 he was being scapegoated.

Plunk was quoted by the Post in a followup article saying that he'd given McInnis permission to use his material, so he didn't consider anything he'd done to constitute plagiarism. However, the Post failed to contact him until after its original piece had appeared in print, and shared his criticisms in the second half of an article that led off with the far more startling Fischer material.

None of that sat well with Plunk, who yesterday sent us the following statement taking the newspaper to task:

The Denver Post surely did get it wrong in publishing yesterday's plagiarism charges involving me, without contacting me in advance of that. DP officials privately have expressed regret to me, but have aimed to excuse this glaring omission by telling me they were rushing to report "breaking news".

Were any questions about these 15-year-old events truly pressing in any way? I think not. I'd say this had more to do with the burdens of the DP's own political agenda. The publication of DP's false accusations about me and Mr. McInnis was not about "breaking news" but rather it was a rush to judgment.

Today, DP buried my rebuttal in an article with an unrelated and sensational headline. Readers might also note that DP did not publish my extensive, written rebuttal, addressed to DP officials , even though other CO news outlets did report about that.

Furthermore, DP did not even quote a single word from my written statement. Instead, I was afforded just a single quotation which was taken from a brief phone conversation I had with a DP reporter yesterday.

Finally, you will note that today's DP article says that "Plunk supports McInnis." But, I was never asked about that, nor did I ever say or write that for DP's consumption.

In short, my dealings with Mr. McInnis, a decade and a half ago, were entirely appropriate and above-board. Yet, DP rushed to incorrectly assess that, then distorted the facts, and now is cowering in the weeds, and refusing to admit to its mistakes.


Daryl M. Plunk Alexandria, Virginia

None of this makes McInnis's other problems go away. But given his current troubles, it certainly doesn't hurt him to have others cast doubt on the Denver Post's coverage.