The Shotgun Blog
Friday, November 05, 2004
Nickson, Post no more
Buried in the Summary section of the National Post today, amidst the jumble of the word of the day, this day in history, web site promotion and privacy statement is a note from the editor (no link):
In freelancer Elizabeth Nickson's column in the National Post of May 31, 2002, the following words should have been attributed to Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online:
"Kim Basinger is 'allergic' to the sun and requires an assistant to carry an umbrella to protect her on the off chance she might be exposed to dangerous solar radiation. Sylvester Stallone once refused to continue with an interview until his hotel room was painted a more 'likable' peach. Mike Myers almost quit the filming of Wayne's World because he didn't have any margarine for his bagel. Sean Penn made an assistant swim the dangerous and polluted currents of New York's East River just to bring him a cigarette. Jennifer Lopez is just one of the many stars who does not permit her employees to look her in the eyes."
These sentences, as they appeared in Ms. Nickson's column published two and a half years ago, were slightly revised from Mr. Goldberg's original article that appeared a year earlier in 2001. The National Post regrets the omission of the attribution to Mr. Goldberg and the National Review.
While Ms. Nickson indicated that her failure to attribute the passage was inadvertent, the Post has decided to discontinue her weekly freelance column.
For the record, this was the original passage in Jonah's 2001 NRO column:
Kim Basinger is "allergic" to the sun and requires an assistant to carry an umbrella to protect her on the off chance she might be exposed to dangerous solar radiation. John Travolta has a staff of 12 assistants, including a personal chef. Sylvester Stallone once refused to continue with an interview until his hotel room was painted a more "likable" peach. Mike Myers (whom I like) almost quit the filming of Wayne's World because he didn't have any margarine for his bagel. Sean Penn made an assistant swim the dangerous and polluted currents of New York's East River just to bring him a cigarette.
I can attest to the powerful temptation one can have to, ahem, borrow from Jonah Goldberg. The moral: It must be resisted.
Posted by Kevin Libin on November 5, 2004 | Permalink
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I just don't know what to say. I really love Liz. I think it's entirely possible that she didn't intend to plagerize. She's got a near photographic memory and perhaps her mind plucked up the offending passage and she spit it out - without intending.
Goddamn. The National Post Death Watch continues.
Posted by: MWW | 2004-11-05 5:16:26 PM
Yeah, I saw that earlier today, too. I can't really blame them because that does seem a little too much to "borrow" mistakenly.
But somehow I get the feeling that they were happy to find an excuse to deep six yet another entertaining conservative columnist.
Agree or disagree, I always found her writing lively and part of the reason I still buy the Post.
Posted by: Kevin Jaeger | 2004-11-05 5:31:04 PM
I've always enjoyed her columns. However, I've stopped reading the Post anyway. Sheila Copps and Buzz Hargrove are not my cup of tea.
Posted by: Michael Dabioch | 2004-11-05 10:54:51 PM
Wow! Back in the glory days of the Post, Nickson was actually my favorite columnist.
Others may have had better analysis but Nickson was alone for combining her insight with the perspective and values of an actual human being.
I haven't read the Post for a year now. Someone fill me in. Other than being the newspaper that has the most legitimate claim to being a "national" paper, does the Post have any reason to exist?
Posted by: Pete E | 2004-11-06 12:41:58 AM
Wow. When she was good she was very good. I was willing to overlook her flakier stuff because she seemed to be "on side". What a shame.
And who just noticed this now...?
Posted by: Kathy | 2004-11-06 5:18:28 AM
Exactly Kathy, this happened two years ago. This is the Post once again giving the boot to those who dont fit the Asper ideology. I cant recall who, but someone on this blog a few months ago wondered when Elizabeth Nickson would be gone.
Plagiarism my eye, who the fuck cares who wrote about Kim Basingers allergies.
Posted by: Mike P | 2004-11-06 6:54:32 AM
any one want to bet that her replacement is Olivia Chow?
Posted by: saltspring | 2004-11-06 7:06:52 AM
What a shocker! Some hack twit from a two-bit, unprofitable rag is busted for plagiarism. Oh, my world is crumbling!
Posted by: Mala | 2004-11-06 5:43:30 PM
Well, the post really can't allow her to stay if she cut and pasted that paragraph. It is wrong to pass off someone else's work as your own, although it is shockingly easy to do in this cut-and-paste era. So I can't agree entirely, Mike, but I still feel bad about the whole situation.
Posted by: Kathy | 2004-11-07 6:09:02 AM
Kathy you are right of course, if she cheated she must go. I didnt read the article unfortunately and my first reaction was this is Asper up to his tricks. We could sure do with an explanation from EN herself. I hope it was inadvertant as Meaghan says, but in any case I will miss her.
Posted by: Mike P | 2004-11-07 8:07:09 AM
"And who just noticed this now...?"
"Exactly Kathy, this happened two years ago. This is the Post once again giving the boot to those who dont fit the Asper ideology"
Wait a sec. The column(s) is(are) old, yes. But it was specifically about the pretension of Hollywood liberals and their political disconnection from the rest of America.
Since this is a most front-and-centre topic these days, a major theme in the deconstruction of the allegedly surprising Bush win, think it's a pretty safe bet that someone somewhere, either at the Post or some blogger somewhere was researching the topic and called up both columns.
Now, I too am disappointed in the softening of the once-mighty Post under the Asper regime (though not too disappointed: the Post's loss of top columnists like Mark Steyn and Anne Coulter is the Western Standard's gain). But In May 2002, the Aspers already owned 100 per cent of the Post, and their biggest editorial shakeup was in 2003, so I reckon that if they were looking for an excuse to spike Nickson, they wouldn't have sat on it this long. Besides, they don't need an excuse to spike Nickson, or anyone. If they didn't like her, they coulda just cut her loose. They own the paper, after all. It's a perogative they've been more than willing to exercise before. No need for a conspiracy theory here.
Posted by: Kevin Libin | 2004-11-07 10:18:13 PM
Kevin I disagree (slightly). If you wanted to change the Western Standard from a right wing magazine to liberal, you wouldnt fire all of your conservative writers at once. You would run the risk of losing all of your conservative readers . So you would do it over a period of time, hoping readers won't notice. Colby Cosh is replaced by Sheila Copps, and who knows if EN will be replaced, but you can bet it wont be a conservative writer. Maybe not a conspiracy theory but I know in which direction Asper is headed.
Posted by: Mike P | 2004-11-08 9:06:10 AM
"This is the Post once again giving the boot to those who dont fit the Asper ideology."
Plagiarism is considered, uh, sort of serious for those who work in journalism. So the firing is no surprise.
Posted by: don smith | 2004-11-10 8:35:31 AM
I probably won't be purchasing the Post much anymore. Nickson was my fave writer and I usually only bought it on days that her column appeared. What a loss! I hope someone else will pick up her column. She shouldn't have plagiarized, but I believe her that it was unintentional. Plus, her record of journalism and commentary is amazing.
I recommend her only book, Monkey Puzzle Tree, to her fans.
Posted by: Angela | 2004-11-18 1:44:41 PM
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