Rick Reilly wrote a ridiculous column in which he suggests that it’s totes fine to assume that Chris Davis is on steroids because other baseball players have taken steroids. Oh, and one time Sammy Sosa was mean to him because he was a dick to Sosa in the locker room about steroids.
I’m not going to waste my time with Reilly’s column. I would, however, like to ask: Is Rick Reilly a plagiarist or a fabulist?
I understand this is a weighty question to throw around unprompted. It could ruin his career and cost him millions. But, as you know, some other journalists have been plagiarists. Oh, I’m sure he’ll deny it. But those answers carry less power with me than a dragonfly’s wingbeat.
I’ve lived through the entire journalism scandal era. I’ve heard all the excuses: I was played by someone who created Jukt Micronics! I didn’t mean to create children for my column! I accidentally copied my own work in multiple venues! I didn’t understand that passing off quotes written by others as having been discerned through my own brilliant reporting was wrong!
Most of these journalists wound up being liars.
And yes, Rick Reilly’s work has passed through the journalism detectors. But plagiarists have frequently made it through those programs. Tells me nothing.
That’s not fair to Rick Reilly—who can prove a negative?—but it’s what hacky columnists who toss off lazy accusations of steroid use because they can’t come up with a better column topic deserve. So many journalists cheated, so many writers stole other people’s work, so many editors failed to see through the fabulists, that it’s only fair to ask “Is what Rick Reilly is writing simply untrue? Or was it stolen from another writer?”