USC Hoax?

PUBLISHED: 6:22 PM 7 Sep 2018
UPDATED: 6:31 PM 7 Sep 2018

Was The Times Duped By A USC Student To Run Hoax Op-Ed?

According to a Twitter user and a plagiarism website, the New York Times may have been tricked by a USC student into running an article that dominated the news cycle.

Was the now-infamous New York Times op-ed a hoax perpetrated by a student at USC?

Since the article first came out on September 5, the media has been abuzz about the New York Times opinion piece, allegedly written by an anonymous member of the Donald Trump administration, titled ‘I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.’ It seems like this weekends’ favorite pastime in the media and in political conversations will be trying to discern who, within the Trump White House, if anyone, wrote the piece.

However, what if, as some on the right suggested, it wasn’t written by a member of the administration at all? What if this strange article, which claimed ‘resistance’ within the White House was constantly undermining the president, was written by, say, a college student? That’s the theory posed by @MightyCassandra on Twitter.

She used evidence to argue that when the NYT made the unusual decision to run an op-ed essay by an ‘anonymous’ person, they were actually running a piece written, and submitted, by a student that day at USC. Evidence shows a match between the two articles on TurnItIn, a plagiarism and citation checking site, showed the assignment was submitted and archived by a student minutes before the article was published in the Times.

Allegedly, that person attends classes at the University of Southern California, as that was the school where someone had turned in a paper that matched at least the first portion of the Times article.

Turnitin.com is a tool to detect plagiarism, and when utilized, it presents a grade, displayed as a percentage, to show how much of a paper has been taken from elsewhere.

Obviously, most papers, especially those that include citations or are heavy on quotes, will contain some content that comes from elsewhere. However, if a paper comes up as a 100% match, there’s nothing different between the two.

Such a match was precisely what happened when ‘MightyCassandra’ ran the essay through the website, according to her Twitter account.

This article, run in the paper on September 5, 2018, has had far-reaching implications.

Firstly, it has tried to diminish the president and his presidency in the eyes of the people, having an allegedly authoritative account which seems to portray him as being ‘reigned in’ by those around him, often without his knowledge.

Secondly, it suggested that unelected officials, within the White House, were controlling the presidency. Many people agree the idea that unelected individuals are undermining the will of the people is not something to be celebrated or taken lightly.

Thirdly, this story has driven the news cycle since it dropped on the fifth. If, as the Twitter post alleges, the whole thing is nothing more than a farce, or a well-written hoax, then the NYT just allowed an unverified, anonymous account to hijack and control much of the mass media in the United States.

It is somewhat believable that a student from the University of Southern California could have produced this.

USC offers classes on, among other things, cinematic arts, and they even offer multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees in screenwriting. In fact, they’re the oldest and arguably the most reputable school for cinematic arts in the United States, and it is closely tied to a number of television and film broadcasting companies.

Could this have been a writing assignment turned in to USC, as @MightyCassandra claimed? Did the NYT, and most of the left-leaning press in the United States (along with a fair number of the right-leaning pundits), get tricked by a creative writing piece from a student?

Perhaps it was some sort of strange English or History assignment. Did someone, either the student, a professor, or another person entirely, write it then turn it into arguably America’s most prestigious newspaper, and convince them to run with it?

Since the Times continues to refuse to identify where they got the paper from, or who handed it over, there’s really no way to know for the average person.

However, it does provide a good opportunity to consider the value (or lack thereof) of stories based on ‘anonymous’ reports.

It seems like the political left is more than happy to run with stories from ‘anonymous’ sources, so long as they paint President Donald J. Trump in a negative light.

There’s a reason that the mainstream media in the United States is constantly losing the trust of more Americans.

Frankly, if the NYT, along with their op-ed editor James Bennet, were tricked by a USC student, that just shows how little value there is in stories entirely sourced from nameless ‘sources’ really are.