Gay shambolism

Students of ancient history may recall that Harvard President Claudine Gay’s plagiarism scandal began with a late October inquiry by the New York Post to Gay and Harvard specifying incidents of what we have come to know as “inadequate citation” in Gay’s work. The Post submitted its inquiry and awaited their response. Harvard deceitfully asked the Post for more time to respond. The response was a 15-page letter from the high-powered Clare Locke firm threatening the Post with a lawsuit.

Among other prominent clients, Clare Locke represented Dominion Voting Systems in its lawsuit against Fox News. That must have rung bell at the Post, which then left pursuit of the story to others.

So far the Post has kept the Clare Locke letter under wraps. In today’s Post, however, Isabel Vincent reports on this aspect of the story and retraces Gay’s habit of “inadequate citation” in “Revealed: Harvard cleared Claudine Gay of plagiarism BEFORE investigating her — and its lawyers falsely claimed her work was ‘properly cited.’” Vincent’s story is unusually long by Post standards. The Post devotes substantial space to it along with helpful graphics that illustrate it.

Vincent opens her story this way:

Harvard cleared its president Claudine Gay of plagiarism before it even investigated whether her academic work was copied, The Post reveals today.

In a threatening legal letter to The Post in late October, the college called allegations that she lifted other academics’ work “demonstrably false,” and said all her works were “cited and properly credited.”

Days later Gay herself asked for an investigation and Harvard tore up its own rules to ask outside experts to review her work, saying it had to avoid a conflict of interest.

And the experts then found she did need to make multiple corrections to her academic record.

The bare-knuckled law firm Harvard employed to try to keep the plagiarism allegations from ever coming to light told The Post it would sue for “immense” damages.

Harvard never revealed an investigation had been launched as the lawyers put pressure on The Post to kill its reporting.

But more than a month later, on December 12 Harvard said Gay had been investigated by its top governing body and was correcting two academic journals, to acknowledge where her work had really come from — meaning the claim it was “properly credited” was false.

Then this week she had to correct her own dissertation after new allegations of using others’ academic work without attribution surfaced — and was hit by an official complaint from an academic at another university which alleges 40 separate incidents of plagiarism in her 11 published works and her dissertation.

Vincent’s story includes two illustrations of the Claire Locke letter. Here is the first:

And here is the second.

Vincent observes that Harvard’s defense cleared Gay without investigating her and then tried to cover up the probe. Harvard’s response expands the scope of the plagiarism scandal from Gay to Harvard’s governing body, thrusting Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow (“billionaire Hyatt heiress”) Penny Pritzker into the spotlight.

Vincent also reports that Clare Locke wrote a second letter denying Gay was a plagiarist on November 7 — when Harvard’s investigation of Gay’s work was active — repeating the claim the allegations were “false” and not disclosing the probe’s existence.

What does Pritzker have to say? The Post seems to be knocking on her door to find out: “A member of her household staff told The Post Thursday that Pritzker was not available to comment. Harvard declined to confirm Friday that she knew the contents of the legal letter before it was sent.”

What does the rest of the Harvard crew have to say? “Harvard’s [spokesman Jonathan] Swain declined to comment to The Post on a series of questions. Aside from Priztker, one Corporation member, venture capitalist Paul Finnegan, declined to comment and attempts to reach 9 others were unsuccessful.”

What does Clare Locke name partner Tom Clare have to say? “Partner Tom Clare, who signed the letter, did not respond to request for comment Friday afternoon.”

Vincent’s long story has more damning details that seem to me to take the scandal into the realm of Rathergate and beyond into satire. Rather stood behind his fraudulent story for 12 days before higher authorities at CBS News compelled him to stand down (with his fingers crossed behind his back).

Andrew Heyward was president of CBS News at the time of Rathergate. He hasn’t spoken much about the scandal for public consumption, but he talked about it to the New York Times when the Times celebrated the release of the Rathergate film Truth in 2015. Heyward told the Times that the film “takes people responsible for the worst embarrassment in the history of CBS News, and what was at the time a grievous blow to the credibility of a proud news organization, and turns them into martyrs and heroes. Only Hollywood could come up with that.” Without a higher-up like Andrew Heyward, Harvard might be able to beat Hollywood.

And now comes word that President Obama has “secretly lobbied Harvard University officials to stick by embattled President Claudine Gay as she faces pressure to resign for giving cover to antisemitism on campus and for committing plagiarism.” From the symbolism of Harvard’s institutional rot to the shambolic racial politics of the Obamas, what next?

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