No, Just Because Seymour Hersh Had The Same Story As You, It’s Not ‘Plagiarism’

We already wrote a bit about Seymour Hersh’s big story, arguing that pretty much everything the public has been told about the Osama bin Laden raid is false. There are plenty of questions that have been raised about some of the specifics in the story, but some people noticed that nearly four years ago, there was a tweet and a blog post, both by RJ Hillhouse, that both made the same basic argument. Hillhouse is well connected with the intelligence community and has told The Intercept that she thinks Hersh’s sources are different than her own:

“I would be shocked if … my sources would talk to [Hersh], given their politics and given the sensitivity that the administration had toward this story.”

She notes that after her original post, she was strongly pressured to shut up about the issue, and did so (though she didn’t delete her post or tweet).

Either way, in a new post, she seems pissed off that Hersh is getting credit for the story, saying that it’s “plagiarism.”

Seymour Hersh’s story, “The Killing of Bin Laden,” in the London Review of Books has a fundamental problem: it’s either plagiarism or unoriginal.

If it’s fiction–as some have implied, it’s plagiarism. If it’s true, it’s not original. The story was broken here on The Spy Who Billed Me four years ago, in August 2011

That’s silly. First of all, it’s not plagiarism, even if it’s not true. Just because he heard the same thing from other sources, that wouldn’t make it plagiarism. As for the “not original” claim — well, who really cares? There’s this weird obsession some people have with who “broke” a particular story. But the fact is that the story itself happened to others before whoever reported it learned about it. Yes, breaking a story is a nice thing, but it’s weird how some people seem to want to claim “ownership” over a story just because they were the first ones to write about it.

Yes, it’s interesting that Hillhouse had a very similar story a few years ago — which may lend some additional credence to Hersh’s story — but being first isn’t always the most important thing. Getting the story widely spread seems a lot more important, which is evidenced by the fact that the story is only now “news” — whereas Hillhouse’s version more or less faded away. It seems like yet another case in which people overvalue being “first” as opposed to actually getting something more widely accepted and understood.

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