Plagiarism in American Ground: Langwiesche fails to cite Wall Street Journal and LA Times journalists’ exclusive interviews… Report on Langewiesche’s Plagiarism inAmerican Ground.
Report from UK expert in forensic linguistics, John Olssen
Original documents involved for examination of Langewiesche’s plagiarism.

What About Betty Ong? The Harm done by Mr. Langewiesche’s Plagiarism

When Langewiesche writes the shocking words from American Flight 11, Flight Attendant Betty Ong-don’t be fooled. Mr. Langewiesche did not interview Craig Marquis, American Airlines employee, the named source. In fact, neither he, or the Atlantic Monthly ever talked to Craig Marquis. We know because  Rhonda Roland Shearer called him earlier this fall to ask. Mr. Marquis said that he ” never heard of Langewiesche.”

Mr. Langewiesche does not reveal to the reader that he lifted the information about Betty Ong and the United 175 Flight Attendant from the Wall Street Journal (Oct. 15, 2001) and the LA Times (Sept. 20, 2001), respectively. What’s even worse, since the Wall Street Journal front page piece was an early report of what happend on 9/11, and a second-hand account about Ms. Ong was incorrect. The Wall Street Journal article wrongly depicts Betty Ong as frightened and unprofessional. Later reports (see ABC’s Diane Sawyer’s piece in the Original Documents above, on right), clear up this mistake after the three first-hand accounts from the American employees (who actually spoke to Betty Ong), gave their testimony about Ms. Ong’s remarkably calm demeanor. Moreover, these three accounts are confirmed by the official voice recording of Betty’s words made available to the Ong family.

The Ong family, and the three American Airline employees with their first hand accounts of talking to Ms. Ong during the 9/11 ordeal, were not contacted by Mr. Langewiesche or Atlantic Monthly  fact-checkers. The false and unfair depiction of Betty Ong, now lives on in the American Ground book, that both his publisher’s vow is:

“a piece of history that will be read 20 years from now… [William Langewiesche is] deeply honest, with a deep integrity….”
Michael Kelly, former Managing Editor, Atlantic Monthly: His Introduction of William Langewiesche at Barnes and Noble bookstore, NYC, Nov. 19, 2002.
“widely acknowledged as by far the best reportage on the aftermath of September 11th”
Excerpt from Letter to John Dunne, Uniformed Fire Officers Assn. written by Jonathan Galassi, President and Publisher, Farrar Straus, as he defends William Langewiesche.

Mr.Langewiesche and his publishers, Atlantic Monthly and Farrar Straus, so far, refuse to acknowledge and correct this harmful untruth about Betty Ong’s lack of professionalism that their book is propagating. Betty Ong’s family has been writing Langewiesche to demand corrections since August 2002 to no avail (also see above Original Document file).                 

Mr. Langewiesche, Atlantic Monthly, Farrar Straus, obviously, did not take the proper verification steps. If they had fact-checked, Betty Ong’s family  would not have this added injury of unnecessary harm to  Ms. Ong’s reputation by the pen of Mr. Langewiesche, and the paper of Atlantic Monthly’s Magazine and Farrar Straus’s book.