Cultural Revolutions

Christopher Hitchens & Vanity Fair

Christopher Hitchens and Vanity Fair get the Connie Chung Award for May. "Thanks for your help," read the letter inserted in my complimentary copy of the May issue of Vanity Fair. It seemed like a polite gesture, a pat on the head for sharing my research (published and unpublished) on plagiarism. The irony—if you can call it that—is that nowhere in Christopher Hitchens' May column on plagiarism does he acknowledge my work.

About a month before the May issue appeared, I received a call from Vanity Fair's fact-checker, Walter Owen. He said Christopher Hitchens would be quoting from my 1994 book, The Martin Luther King, Jr., Plagiarism Story, for his May column, and he wondered whether I would, one, confirm certain parallel passages that I had culled from King's papers and which Mr. Hitchens planned to quote in his column; two, confirm the title of King's paper analyzed on page 91 of my book, which Mr. Hitchens wanted to cite; and three, provide the full name of the source that King had plagiarized in this essay.

I remember the call well, for it was nearly five o'clock in the afternoon and I was running late for an engagement. But I canceled my dinner plans, took Mr. Owen's number, dug out my files and a copy of my book, and called him back with the information as requested. When I received my comp for "services rendered," I phoned...

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