HarperCollins is withdrawing the digital edition of Monica Crowley’s 2012 book “What the (Bleep) Just Happened?” from retailers, after evidence of plagiarism.
Its decision to recall the book comes after a report by CNN that Ms. Crowley, a conservative columnist and TV personality who was chosen by President-elect Donald J. Trump for a high-ranking communications role at the National Security Council, had included plagiarized passages from Wikipedia and newspaper articles.
“The book, which has reached the end of its natural sales cycle, will no longer be offered for purchase until such time as the author has the opportunity to source and revise the material,” HarperCollins said in a statement on Tuesday.
The book, which took aim at Barack Obama’s presidency and policies, was a modest commercial success, selling around 20,000 hardcover copies, according to Publishers Marketplace. Ms. Crowley’s book was published by Broadside Books, a conservative imprint at HarperCollins; it included identical language to passages published by other sources without attributing credit — in some 50 instances — CNN reported over the weekend. More examples of plagiarism surfaced in Ms. Crowley’s Ph.D. dissertation, according to Politico, which found more than a dozen examples of passages that had been lifted from scholarly works.
While publishers typically have nonfiction books vetted by their legal departments, most do not check for plagiarism, fabrication or factual inaccuracies. As a result, nonfiction books often contain errors and, every so often, plagiarism.
These types of offenses once signified the end of an author’s career. But publishers have seemed more willing to give writers a second chance. Last year, Simon & Schuster published a book by Jonah Lehrer, whose previous books for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt were recalled after it was revealed that Mr. Lehrer had plagiarized passages, recycled his own work and fabricated quotations. James Frey, who fabricated portions of his memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” about his drug addiction, made a comeback as a young-adult novelist and publisher.
In Ms. Crowley’s case, the evidence seemed clear enough: CNN highlighted many instances where text had been lifted from other sources and presented passages with the original material to stress similarities.
HarperCollins’s decision to withdraw the book put it at odds with Mr. Trump’s transition team, which vigorously defended Ms. Crowley and dismissed the charges of plagiarism as “a politically motivated attack.”
“Monica’s exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the administration,” Mr. Trump’s transition team said a statement to CNN. “HarperCollins — one of the largest and most respected publishers in the world — published her book, which has become a national best seller. Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”