Sheriff Clarke Denies Plagiarism Claim as His Supporters Go After the Reporter Who Broke the Story

On Saturday, CNN KFILE writers Andrew Kaczynski, Christopher Massie, and Nathan McDermott accused Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke of plagiarizing his master’s thesis.

Their report cites 47 times throughout the 88-page paper that Clarke “lifts language from sources and credits them with a footnote” but does not use quotation marks.

The accusation came only a few days after Clarke announced that he will be accepting the position of assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.

According to Clarke, the timing reeks of partisanship, and in an email to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he wrote, “Only someone with a political agenda would say this is plagiarism.”

Fran McLaughlin, Clarke’s public information officer said the school “has a system for doing papers and Clarke followed it.”

The Naval Postgraduate School took the thesis off its website and some people took this as confirmation of the KFILE accusations. However, Lt. Cmdr. Clint Phillips, a school spokesman, told the Associated Press that it’s “standard operating procedure” to remove a thesis while an internal academic review is conducted.

In a series of two tweets sent before the story broke, Clarke called Kaczynski a “sleaze bag” and claimed plagiarism accusations are the site’s “MO”:

So how did a handful of Clarke’s supporters respond? With an ad hominem attack pointing out that Kaczynski didn’t finish college.

Kaczynski has a resume that includes The Daily Beast’s 2013 “Beast Best” award and New York Magazine’s 13th-most influential tweeter in New York City in 2014. He is a highly accomplished reporter who recently took his “KFILE” investigative reporting to CNN.

Kaczynski was quick to hit back, mocking the attacks on him with a list of things that aren’t a “defense” for Clarke — including his certificate status:

CNN has faced its own share of plagiarism accusations. In 2014, the host of “Fareed Zakaria GPS” was accused of stealing other people’s work.

Senior media correspondent Brian Stelter said the station holds itself to the “highest standards.” He asserted Zakaria didn’t plagiarize, that he simply made “some attribution mistakes.”

Clarke has simultaneously amassed a large following and large criticism for his seemingly controversial statements.

A major supporter of President Donald Trump, Clarke is often seen as a staple of the conservative movement. However, he has been re-elected to his position as sheriff while running as a Democrat.

Editor’s note: The headline and copy included in this story have been updated for clarity.

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