Reverse Plagiarism: Historian Jon Meahcam’s Lack of Ethics Gets Schooled by Crom Carmichael


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio.

During the third hour, Carmichael weighed in on the recent dismissal of historian Jon Meacham from MSNBC for not disclosing his relationship with former Vice President Joe Biden as a speechwriter. He later speculated whether he will be relieved as faculty of Vanderbilt University for violating their honor system.

Leahy: It is Wednesday, November 11, 2020, Veterans Day. A salute to all our veterans out there. We are joined in the studio now by our good friend and the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. Crom, good morning.

Carmichael: Good morning, Michael.

Leahy: Well Crom, our friend I suppose you could say, the person of whom we’ve talked about some here and who’s not coming into our studios apparently for fear of having an actual discussion. Jon Meacham. The esteemed historian who’s run into some problems of late. He lives in Nashville now and moved here from New York. He’s run into some ethical problems Crom. And we followed up on it our lead story at The Tennessee Star today by Chris Butler.

Headline: Vanderbilt University Won’t Say if They Will Dismiss Jon Meacham After Ethical Lapses Involving His Involvement With Joe Biden. I’ll just read the beginning of it. MSNBC has apparently dismissed Vanderbilt Professor Jon Meacham from his job as a network contributor because, wait for this Crom, he did not inform network staff that he was writing speeches for former Vice President Joe Biden. He was reading them after he wrote them. He was writing speeches for Biden.

Carmichael: Yeah, and that is the equivalent of plagiarism.

Leahy: I would say.

Carmichael: Like reverse plagiarism. It’s a little bit what you talked about. You’re on the air and you talk about a great speech. It’s kind of like promoting a stock that you own stock in and tried to drive the price up in the stock by publicly promoting it and but then not acknowledging that you have an interest in the company.

Leahy: It’s dishonest and it’s unethical. Now Crom, as an example. Let’s say you were to write an op-ed under my byline, right? You wrote it. I put it up there and then we’d be talking about that op-ed. And if you told me what a great op-ed that was. It is similar to that I think.

Carmichael: No

Leahy: Not exactly?

Carmichael: No because you have ghostwritten books and I don’t know whether or not the ghostwriter is acknowledged. This is just kind of a straight-up.

Leahy: It’s worse.

Carmichael: Yeah. This is much worse. Yeah, and I checked it. I went to Vanderbilt and they have an honor system.

Leahy: It does.

Carmichael: Yeah and if a student were to turn in a paper with improper footnotes and it’s plagiarized they would be kicked out of Vanderbilt.

Leahy: Well, he’s teaching at Vanderbilt.

Carmichael: He’s teaching at Vanderbilt and he’ll be teaching the very students about the purpose of honor that he did not himself ascribe to.

Leahy: His act is dishonorable.

Carmichael: And apparently, he didn’t even tell the network.

Leahy: Yeah.

Carmichael: Apparently he didn’t tell the network so to me there are two different things here. One is if you go on air and you talk about a speech that Biden gave that you wrote and you fail to mention that you helped write the speech or that you wrote the speech that’s bad enough. But he’s a paid person by the networks and he goes on and he fills out a disclosure form that would be something akin to a conflict of interest form where he is supposed to disclose any potential conflicts. I mean all of these network people must have this as part of their contracts. I’m sure he has a contract because the network fired him for not revealing it to them.

Leahy: Those are the reports

Carmichael: Those are the reports that he was fired for not reporting to the network that he was a speechwriter. And so not only did he fail to report to the viewers that he wrote the speech that he was saying was so great. And by the way, Democrats get away with this. I would be disappointed if Vanderbilt did not say, Mr. Meacham, I’m sorry but you can’t be a professor here. We have an honor system. We place great value in our honor system and what you did is not something that any student here could do and remain a student here. But it’s a lot like Elizabeth Warren.

Leahy: I was thinking of Elizabeth Warren as you said that.

Carmichael: Yeah. It’s a little bit like Elizabeth Warren. I still think that the election is far from over.

Leahy: I agree with you 100 percent.

Carmichael: And Elizabeth Warren wants to be Treasury Secretary. Well, Elizabeth Warren’s not going to be anything and there’s one reason for that. She will not serve in the Biden administration for one reason. The governor of Massachusetts is a Republican. And if she were to leave I believe that he gets to appoint.

Leahy: I like that idea Crom. I hadn’t even thought about that.

Carmichael: I’m certain that the governor of Massachusetts is a Republican.

Leahy: Yes.

Carmichael: That I’m certain of.

Leahy: Charlie Baker. He’s a liberal Republican.

Carmichael: But whether or not he has the right to appoint anybody he wants to that’s an open question for me because in North Carolina the belief was that that that if Burr no longer is the senator after the election. This was an article about Burr joining the administration. In North Carolina, the governor must appoint a person not only from the party.

If Burr leaves, Burr’s a Republican. the Democrat Governor’s required to appoint a Republican. And he’s actually required to appoint a Republican from a list that is given to him by a group of Republicans who have that authority. So in North Carolina, for example, a Democrat Governor if a Republican senator dies, they can’t appoint a Democrat to replace them. I don’t know what the rule is in Massachusetts.

Leahy: We’ll find that out during the break. I want to continue with this story. It’s a very good story by our own Chris Butler our lead story about Jon Meacham. Let me just read all this to you Crom and get your reaction. The Tennessee Star left two messages with Vanderbilt University on Tuesday one by phone and one by mail.

We asked venerable officials if they plan to relieve Meacham or to move his duties because of his ethical lapse and lack of transparency. The Vanderbilt official did not return our request for comment. Breitbart citing The New York Times reported that Meacham “went on the air and praised a speech he helped write that Biden delivered without disclosing he helped write it. The corruption among our self-appointed elites knows no bounds.”

This was I think John Nolte’s article at Breitbart. The Times reports that in secret, Meacham has been helping to ghostwrite speeches for Biden, and not only had Meacham failed to disclose his work for the Biden campaign he went on air and commented favorably about a speech he himself played a role in writing. Meacham, according to Vanderbilt’s website holds the Carolyn Tea and Robert M. Rogers chair in the American Presidency.

Carmichael: Well, it’ll be interesting to see what Vanderbilt does. Because what Meacham did if a Vanderbilt student did it with an exam and if they plagiarized the exam or quoted extensively from a particular work and didn’t footnote it I think that is the definition of plagiarism, correct?

Leahy: I think so.

Carmichael: If you don’t footnote an extensive amount that is akin to what Meacham did. And if a student did that they would be summarily be dismissed from the University.

Leahy: So I do have a prediction.

Carmichael: I predict he’ll get to stay. Just as CNN actually hired the guy who wrote an anonymous article claiming that he was in the White House but he wasn’t.

Leahy: He was a very low-level guy.

Carmichael: He was a very low level. So he acted like he was much bigger than he was. Then on CNN, he was asked if he was the person who wrote the article and he said no I’m not.

Leahy: He lied. He’s a liar.

Carmichael: He lied about that then they hired him. So so maybe this will actually increase Meacham’s pay.

Leahy: It probably will. I would guess because there was a piece I was reading about written by Sharyl Attkisson who is a great reporter formerly with CBS News and now with Just the News at The Hill. And she said Americans are losing respect for basic institutions. Well, why is that? Well because they’re hypocritical and they have different standards. If you’re a liberal, Vanderbilt will let you do anything apparently.

Carmichael: We’ll find out. Let me say this.

Leahy: Are you going to give him a chance?

Carmichael: Well we have to. We have to wait and find out. This news only broke a couple of days ago. It takes them a while to meet. So it’ll be a while. But within the next two or three weeks, we ought to know whether or not Vanderbilt believes if the honor system at Vanderbilt applies to the faculty. And we don’t know.

Leahy: Well they’re not commenting.

Carmichael: Well, we know that but that doesn’t mean anything. It means that they may not want to comment just yet.

Leahy: You are extending grace to your alma mater.

Carmichael: I’m extending what they are due. Now in two or three weeks if they don’t do anything and then they still won’t respond, then it’ll be a horse of a different color.

Leahy: You’re a very generous man Crom.

Carmichael: I try to be as fair as I can be. And as accurate as I know how to be at the time.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Jon Meacham” by Larry D. Moore. CC BY-SA 4.0.












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