Christopher Ketcham ("The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges: Pulitzer winner. Lefty hero. Plagiarist.", TNR 6/12/2014) documents several cases of sentences and even paragraphs copied verbatim, as well as other cases of "patchwriting":
Robert Drechsel, the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, noted that the use of material from Klein, Postman, and Hemingway “could be characterized as something that has come to be called ‘patchwriting.’ English and writing professors Sandra Jamieson and Rebecca Moore Howard have defined it as ‘restating a phrase, clause, or one or more sentences while staying close to the language or syntax of the source.’ Whether it happens intentionally, carelessly, or as an oversight, it’s a very serious matter.”
Though new to me, the useful term patchwriting has been around for a while. The origin seems to be in Rebecca Moore Howard, "A plagiarism pentimento", Journal of teaching writing 1993. I haven't been able to find the original article, but the ERIC summary reads:
Provides analysis of the term "plagiarism" and distinguishes it from other ways students might employ sources. Defines a form of source usage called "patchwriting" that relies heavily on summary and which should be acceptable to writing teachers. Weighs the pros and cons of summary writing.
Howard discusses the issue of "patchwriting" at length in her 2000 book chapter "The Ethics of Plagiarism", in Michael A. Pemberton, ed., The Ethics of Writing Instruction: Issues in Theory and Practice:
With more extensive empirical grounding, the same ideas come up in Rebecca Moore Howard, Tanya K. Rodrigue, and Tricia C. Serviss, “Writing from Sources, Writing from Sentences”, Writing and Pedagogy 2010:
Whereas many institutions’ academic integrity policies classify patchwriting as a form of plagiarism – a moral failure – recent research indicates that it occurs as an intermediate stage between copying and summarizing: inexpert critical readers patchwrite when they attempt to paraphrase or summarize. Roig (2001) finds that 22% of psychology professors patchwrite when presented with the task of summarizing complex text from an unfamiliar field. Howard (1993:233) posits patchwriting as a learning strategy rather than an act of academic dishonesty. Pecorari (2003) provides empirical verification of this hypothesis in her discovery that non-native speakers of English (L2 writers) patchwrite, even when writing doctoral dissertations. Shi (2004) reports that the Chinese college
students in her study copied longer sequences of words when summarizing than did their native-English-speaking (L1 writers) counterparts.
My own feeling is that direct (and of course transparently attributed) quotation, even of large chunks of material, is much preferable to patchwriting, which does seem dishonest, especially when the changes are minor ones. But it's clear that there's a spectrum of behavior, from out-and-out plagiarism through more and more distant forms of paraphrase, and that the more innocent end of the spectrum is sometimes nearly unavoidable, for example when summarizing someone's theory or re-telling someone's story.
On Ketcham's account, Hedges' transgressions are well on the culpable side of whatever line we can plausibly draw. Thus Ketcham cites four examples where a 2/28/2010 Truthdig piece by Hedges reproduces whole paragraphs from a November 2009 Harper's piece by Petra Bartosiewicz, verbatim or nearly so, e.g.
Bartosiewicz: He proposed a compromise: the U.S. team could interview Siddiqui, but she would remain at the station. In a Reuters interview, however, a “senior Ghazni police officer” suggested that the compromise did not hold. The U.S. team arrived at the police station, he said, and demanded custody of Siddiqui, the Afghan officers refused, and the U.S. team proceeded to disarm them.
Hedges: He proposed a compromise: The U.S. team could interview Siddiqui, but she would remain at the station. In a Reuters interview, however, a “senior Ghazni police officer” suggested that the compromise did not hold. The U.S. team arrived at the police station, he said, and demanded custody of Siddiqui. The Afghan officers refused, and the U.S. team proceeded to disarm them.