Guilt by Invented Association

By Steven A. Camarota and Steven A. Camarota on April 5, 2010

Imagine 2050, a web site devoted to smearing those who do not share their support of high immigration, claimed last year that I wrote an article for the American Free Press (AFP). First, I did not give permission to AFP to publish anything I have written. I was unaware that AFP even existed until this issue came up. AFP simply lifted from the internet parts of something I wrote for the Center for Immigration Studies. A simple Google search would have revealed this fact.

But in the strange world of Imagine 2050, when an organization like AFP takes parts of something I wrote off the internet and republishes it, I somehow become responsible for everything that organization has ever published. Does the article itself state that it was republished with my permission? No. Did Imagine 2050 contact AFP and ask them if they had obtained my permission? No. If they had done so they would have quickly learned that there was no such permission. Did Imagine 2050 contact me and ask if AFP had obtained my formal permission? No.

This is not even character assassination based on guilt by association. This is guilt by invented association. This is the kind of irresponsible attack that organizations like Imagine 2050 specialize in. Whether the article was published with my permission is something they could have easily checked out. But they just didn't bother.

For those who can't get enough of this sort of thing, CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian responded to the original Imagine 2050 smear with an e-mail (reproduced below), which was followed by a March 19 response from Imagine 2050 (linked here):

Subject: Ethical breach by Stephen Piggott
Sent: Thu 12/17/2009 5:00 PM
To: [email protected]

Dear Imagine 2050 editor: Your site came to my attention today because of a post by your employee Stephen Piggott from several months ago:…
which contained the following statement: "The August 31st edition of American Free Press (AFP) features Steven Camarota, CIS's Director of Research. It appears that CIS gave the American Free Press permission to publish the article in their publication." And I was forwarded another post by him from today that repeats this claim.

I'd never heard of either your site or "American Free Press," but we don't have anything to do with anti-Semites. (Among other things, one of my senior staffers is the former policy director of the American Jewish Committee and former vice president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.) What's more, I could not find any article by my research director at their site, and I'm the only one authorized to give reprint permission for articles that we own (as opposed to op-eds done for others).

Furthermore, saying that "it appears" we gave permission is hardly sufficient for such a grievous and potentially actionable charge – if your writer had called them (and/or us), you'd have an actual answer. This violates the first tenet of the SPJ’s [Society of Professional Journalists] ethics code -- -- "Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible."

I'd like to see the paper copy (or hyperlink) to the story in question. If we did not give permission (as is almost certain), I expect a correction to be published at your site.

I realize Mr. Piggott is a young and inexperienced writer, and I'm sure he'll learn to conduct himself more responsibly as he matures. But however sharp our political differences might be, this kind of reckless disregard for the truth is never acceptable in a democracy.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. – MK

Cc: Stephen Piggott (via Facebook)