Capitol Alert

Gavin Newsom has pattern of posting other people’s work without credit

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom reacts after a photo taken before the State of the State address at the State Capitol on Thursday January 21, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom reacts after a photo taken before the State of the State address at the State Capitol on Thursday January 21, 2016 in Sacramento, Calif. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

After acknowledging over the weekend that he failed to credit the original author of a nearly identical social media post he signed attacking Donald Trump, a review of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s online publishing this month has found one instance in which he used a word-for-word passage from another source and additional examples of posting other people’s work without attribution.

In an essay in The Daily Beast last week, Newsom appears to draw heavily from a passage of a fact sheet on conversion therapy from the National Center for Lesbian Rights. He writes: “The techniques therapists have used to try to change sexual orientation and gender identity are horrifying. They include inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images; providing electric shocks; using shame to create aversion to same-sex attractions. Other techniques include trying to make patients’ behavior more stereotypically feminine or masculine, teaching heterosexual dating skills, using hypnosis to try to redirect desires and arousal.”

Here is the similar passage from the National Center for Lesbian Rights: “According to a 2009 report of the American Psychological Association, the techniques therapists have used to try to change sexual orientation and gender identity include inducing nausea, vomiting, or paralysis while showing the patient homoerotic images; providing electric shocks; having the individual snap an elastic band around the wrist when aroused by same-sex erotic images or thoughts; using shame to create aversion to same-sex attractions; orgasmic reconditioning; and satiation therapy. Other techniques include trying to make patients’ behavior more stereotypically feminine or masculine, teaching heterosexual dating skills, using hypnosis to try to redirect desires and arousal, and other techniques – all based on the scientifically discredited premise that being LGBT is a defect or disorder.”

Newsom spokesman Jason Kinney said in a statement that the center “is an unwavering champion of Gavin’s leadership, enthusiastically worked with him on the piece, and specifically encouraged him to use that passage, which is promoted as ‘open source’ on its website.”

In an attack on Republican Donald Trump on Friday, Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, posted on Twitter and Facebook a Trump-inspired paraphrase of Martin Niemoller’s famous “first they came” statement about Nazism.

When The Sacramento Bee asked Newsom’s campaign about its failure to mention that retired Air Force Col. Tom Moe wrote the paraphrase, Newsom updated his Facebook post to credit Moe and said on Twitter, “Good catch.”

It was not the first time, however, that Newsom posted someone else’s work online without credit.

Newsom on Thursday posted on Facebook a list of five things describing what he called Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence’s “war on women.” The post was virtually identical to one originally published in New York magazine. Newsom did not sign that post, which was set apart from his own comment on Facebook.

On July 13, Newsom posted part of a piece on Pence drawn from an article in Mother Jones. That post was also separated visually on screen, but without attribution.

Kinney’s statement – making reference to accusations of plagiarism against Trump’s wife, Melania, in her speech at the Republican National Convention – said: “Given his thousands of recent posts, it’s not surprising to have citation ambiguity on a fraction of them but they were clearly formatted in common online practice to appear as material from another source. ... At the same time, he understands in the post-Melania world that he needs to be even more hypersensitive about credit so, going forward, he’ll be applying even stricter citation standards to links, shares and retweets.”

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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