PORTLAND, Maine — Plagiarism accusations against a highly accomplished international journalist won’t affect his scheduled keynote speech at a peace rally in Portland on Monday.
Chris Hedges, the author of several books who has spent years as a foreign correspondent for major media organizations that include The New York Times, has become a leading progressive voice on human rights, the human toll of war and corporate greed. His work has been highlighted repeatedly with national media awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 as part of a New York Times project on global terrorism.
Hedges, who is known to vacation in Maine, is scheduled to deliver a speech titled “The Wages of Rebellion” at the Peace Action Maine Annual Peace Gathering at 7 p.m. Monday, June 16, in Hannaford Hall on the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland.
On Thursday, Hedges was accused of plagiarism in an exhaustive article published by The New Republic. The piece alleges Hedges lifted passages nearly word-for-word from newspaper accounts, magazines and, in one case, Ernest Hemingway in articles he wrote for Harper’s Magazine and progressive website Truthdig.
One case The New Republic reports goes back to 2010, when Harper’s Magazine allegedly opted not to run a Hedges-authored story because of plagiarism problems.
Hedges, who could not be reached for comment on this report, told The New Republic the alleged plagiarism cases were because of sloppy research and attribution errors that were later corrected. Progressive organizations have begun to come to Hedges’ defense, one of which labeled The New Republic’s article as a “hit piece” against Hedges.
Cristina Malcolmson, a Bates College English professor and board member for Peace Action Maine, said Friday the board did not have time to fact check the allegations against Hedges, but the organization has “absolutely no plans to cancel the event.”
“I am delighted that he will be speaking at our annual peace gathering on Monday,” Malcolmson wrote in response to questions from the Bangor Daily News. “I support the work of Chris Hedges without hesitation or qualification.”
She pointed out neither The American Prospect nor Salon would publish the story alleging Hedges committed plagiarism. She also notes The Nation and Truthdig disputed The New Republic article’s claims.
“The article seems geared toward discrediting a leader of the progressive movement and one of the most powerful analysts of the corporate state and U.S. foreign policy,” Malcolmson wrote.
Plagiarism has been the focus of considerable attention in Maine recently, since the Bangor Daily News revealed last month portions of the $925,000 Alexander Group report on Maine’s welfare system commissioned by Gov. Paul LePage’s administration had been copied from other studies. Liberal groups, led by the Maine People’s Alliance, have been critical of the group and called on LePage to demand that the Alexander Group refund more than $500,000 the state has paid for the report.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that it has terminated the controversial Alexander Group contract.