Remember how we reserved the right to freak out if more dirt on Victoria Ilyinsky came to light? Well, looks like the Crimson has done it for us.
The Harvard daily fired Ilyinsky Thursday after learning that the senior had failed to cite sources in her column on misuse of the word “literally.” In addition to one passage drawn from a Slate story, “two other parts of the opinion piece also do not meet The Crimson’s standards for source citation, and it is on this basis that we have decided to retract the column,” the editors wrote in a statement posted late Thursday.
They kind of had to. 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. And you just know the Romenesko-horny reporters smell blood in the water. As we type this, every Crimson newshound is Googling Ilyinsky’s past columns sentence by sentence — desperate, desperate, desperate to become the next David Zhou.
Evvvverybody, take a breath. A note and a retraction might have sufficed. The additional infractions that supposedly convinced the CrimEds to yank the column are no more grave than the first. Her two sources, “Literally, A Web Log” and Slate, are the first and third results of a Google search for “literally.” As we said before, this isn’t a high crime. (Unless other bogus columns surface!) It’s laziness, and a failure to learn the first lesson of sloppy journalism: If you can Google a topic, so can your readers.
UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: The Crimson has officially yanked the piece from the website. You guys realize that’s exactly the wrong move, right? Leave it up with a note attached for readers to make their own judgments.
Also, not that this is relevant, but we hear Victoria Ilyinsky is a princess. Literally. Like, descendant of the Romanov dynasty. We’re kind of tempted to forgive everything.