Harvard University's student newspaper, the Crimson, is firing a cartoonist for copying a cartoon by a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Walt Handelsman. The Crimson's move comes just four days after the paper discontinued a columnist who failed to attribute an example drawn from a Web log.
Sophomore Kathleen Breeden's cartoon depicts President Bush next to the Democratic Party's symbol, a donkey, which holds a sign that reads "NOT" and has an arrow pointing to the president. The cartoon's header reads: "For better or worse, it might finally be a winning strategy." Mr. Handelsman's cartoon, published in Newsday on October 16, depicts similar images, and the header reads: "The Democrats Find a Winning Election Strategy…"
The Crimson editorial board said in a statement yesterday that it was retracting two of Ms. Breeden's cartoons as a result of "apparent plagiarism," but it said Mr. Handelsman would not take action against Ms. Breeden.
Until yesterday, the paper ran Ms. Breeden's cartoons weekly. The Crimson reported yesterday that additional cartoons submitted by Ms. Breeden and published by the paper on September 22, October 11, and October 18 bore similarities to cartoons published in the San Diego Union Tribune, Slate, and Mad Magazine.
The Breeden brouhaha comes on the heels of another Crimson plagiarism scandal. The paper announced on Thursday its discontinuation of senior Victoria Ilyinsky's column "On Language," citing Ms. Ilyinsky's failure to attribute the examples she used in an October 16 column about the evolving use of the word "literally" to a 2005 Slate magazine piece and to a blog.
In her article, headlined "The Word is Killing Me, Literally," Ms. Ilyinsky used, without attribution, the same quotations — one from Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" and another from F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" — that Jesse Sheidlower used in a 2005 Slate magazine column titled "The Word We Love to Hate, Literally."
Ms. Ilyinsky's column was canceled and the article removed from the paper's Web site when it emerged that a statement by Ms. Ilyinsky — "When an NFL sportscaster said last month, talking about the Giants comeback victory over the Eagles, that the winners had literally put a bullet in coach Andy Reid's head, I had a feeling there wasn't much shooting going on" — was lifted from a blog linked in Mr. Sheidlower's Slate piece.
"It turned out she hadn't seen the sportscast herself, and in the article she implied that she'd watched the game," the paper's president, William Marra, said of Ms. Ilyinsky. Mr. Marra said Ms. Ilyinsky's misrepresentation was a violation of Crimson standards.
Mr. Marra said he is not worried about the Crimson losing credibility. "We're not worried about bad press and we're not trying to hide the fact that this happened," Mr. Marra said. "Right now we're working to strengthen our existing policies and create new ones to prevent any future plagiarism from appearing."
The Web log Ivy Gate, which covered both the Ilyinsky and Breeden dismissals, suggested the Crimson's stern reaction to the recent events stemmed from the paper's relentless coverage of junior Kaavya Viswanathan's plagiarized novel. The Crimson exposed in detail how portions of Ms. Viswanathan's book, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" (Little, Brown), were lifted from various novels. It was eventually pulled from bookshelves and Ms. Viswanathan lost a book deal and a film adaptation that was reported to be in the works.
Ivy Gate's proprietors wrote, "After pummeling Kaavya Viswanathan last year for plagiarism, The Crimson doesn't want to be seen protecting someone even remotely tainted by the p-word, even if it's a small infraction."
Mr. Marra denied the charge. "We would have handled things exactly the same way," he said.
Neither Ms. Breeden nor Ms. Ilyinsky returned e-mails seeking comment yesterday.