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You’d think no key information would be missing from a magazine cover story that runs 6,694 words and several pages long. Not so in the latest issue of The New Republic, Washington’s premiere liberal journal.

Left out of its lead piece — entitled “Sullied Heritage: An investigative report by John B. Judis on the decline of principled conservative opposition to China” — is a little something called credit. Also known as citation, attribution or sourcing.

In what may be one of the brashest journalistic rip-offs in years, Judis, a senior editor, for the most part regurgitated a series of exclusive investigative reports by WorldNetDaily.com about the conservative Heritage Foundation and its now-famous alumna, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

Yet he failed to cite WorldNetDaily.com in his article, which appears in The New Republic’s April 23 issue on newsstands now.

Judis was aware of the WorldNetDaily articles — which ran in January, before Chao was confirmed — because he contacted this reporter Feb. 27 by e-mail to request an interview before writing his own story on Chao.

In the journalism profession, it’s considered unethical, not to mention dishonest, to lift original material from another publication without sourcing it.

Said one Heritage foreign-policy analyst, who brought The New Republic story to the attention of WorldNetDaily editors: “You were the pioneers on this story. Not referring to you is like editorial land grab.”

Another Heritage source, an executive, offered: “Some ‘journalists’ are no more trustworthy than some politicians.”

WorldNetDaily was first to report that Chao, President Bush’s second pick for labor chief, is a China booster who has deep ties to the communist leadership in Beijing.

In fact, her China-born father, James Chao, is a college chum of Chinese President Jiang Zemin, as WorldNetDaily reporter Jon Dougherty found, and has extensive shipping interests in China through his New York-based Foremost Maritime Corp.

As WorldNetDaily also reported, in another exclusive, Chao herself is tied to the controversial Lippo Group and the Chinese government through a U.S. insurance company on whose board she served. The insurance company, Protective Life Corp., partners with Lippo and a China-owned company.

Top executives of Lippo were recently convicted of laundering foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, including those of former President Clinton and Chao’s husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The stories were important because they pointed up potential conflicts of interest Chao may have as a top U.S. government official with access to Top Secret information.

In addition, WorldNetDaily broke the story that Chao, while at Heritage, ushered in an era of China boosterism, surprising many of the think tank’s supporters — and staff — who still viewed the communist power as a threat.

The pro-Beijing tilt manifested in the rewriting of a policy paper critical of China in the run-up to Congress’ vote last year on permanent normalized trade with China. Hank Greenberg, a big Heritage donor and China trade booster close to Chao and her husband,
demanded the change.

The tilt also resulted in the firing of long-time Heritage military analyst, Rick Fisher, who sounded one too many warnings about China’s growing military ambitions for Chao’s liking.

WorldNetDaily also exposed Heritage’s shift in focus from policy to fund-raising, particularly in Hong Kong, under Heritage president Ed Feulner and Chao, who contributed little in the way of policy analysis during her $200,000-a-year tenure.

WorldNetDaily’s series was cited by UPI in a Feb. 3 feature story and twice by the Wall Street Journal’s online publication, OpinionJournal.com.

But Judis, who repaved much of WorldNetDaily’s work, found no room to cite the independent newssite a single time in his nearly 7,000-word article.

He did, however, say this toward the end, after confirming everything WorldNetDaily reported: “The story of Chao, McConnell, and Heritage has never made the mainstream press, but it has become a staple of conspiracy-minded right-wing websites.”

And this: “… speculation about Chinese influence will continue to fill right-wing websites.”

And this, earlier in the piece: “… stories about Chao and her father had begun surfacing on right-wing websites.”

Judis did not respond to a query. But a colleague relayed that he blames his editors for the lack of attribution. Allegedly, he cited WorldNetDaily.com, but his editors removed the credit three separate times during the editing process.

Why the credit was replaced with smears designed to discredit his source, such as “conspiracy-minded right-wing websites,” was not explained.

New Republic Editor Peter Beinart said he is “looking into” the matter.

New Republic’s story: Sullied Heritage (online post: April 12, 2001)

Compare New Republic story with WorldNetDaily’s series of stories …

Elaine Chao’s ties to Chinese leader (Jan. 13, 2001)

Chao’s pro-China coup at Heritage?(Jan. 16, 2001)

Chao has biz ties to Lippo (Jan. 17, 2001)

Dissident Wu ‘very surprised’ at Chao pick (Jan. 17, 2001)

Heritage to close odd Hong Kong shop (Jan. 24, 2001)

McConnell’s belated dirty-money discovery (Jan. 26, 2001)

Wall Street Journal citings:

WSJ Opinion Journal’s “Best of the Web” (Jan. 19, 2001) citing WND’s “Chao’s pro-China coup at Heritage?” story

WSJ Opinion Journal’s “Best of the Web” (Jan. 30, 2001) citing WND’s “Chao has biz ties to Lippo” story

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