A "plagiarized" account of Maureen Dowd's plagiarism

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    New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is in hot water for lifting a paragraph from a blog written by Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall without attributing the source.
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To better illustrate a point or a thought when writing a column, article, or blog it goes without saying that it's commonplace and perfectly acceptable to quote someone or some source.

Almost 100 percent of the time, for example, someone else's words will be a big improvement over anything that we can muster up on this blog.

So that's how we'll tell the story of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's attribution malfunction (but just to be wacky, we'll attribute the sources).

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Caution

It is an axiom of the new digital media age that high-profile political columnists should generally avoid copying other people's words without attribution. Nobody wants to have the p-word hung around their necks.

It is a further axiom of the age that if a columnist is to borrow a paragraph unattributed, then at least they should ensure it doesn't belong to Josh Marshall. The man behind Talking Points Memo is one of the sharpest, most deadly bloggers around. [The Guardian]

Oops

Maureen Dowd, whose barbed-worded columns for The New York Times never have lacked for original thoughts about the Bush administration, has admitted to some borrowed words. She reports that it was inadvertent. [The Swamp]

In the original column, Dowd wrote: "More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq."

Marshall last week wrote virtually the same sentence. But where Dowd's column used the phrase "the Bush crowd was," Marshall used "we were." [Associated Press]

Accidental

Dowd claims this was an accident, and that she got the idea for the material in question while chatting with a friend.

Yes, it's odd that her "friend" recalled Marshall's article verbatim, but that's Dowd's story and she's sticking to it. No one ever accused the gal of lacking moxie. [Huffington Post]

Odd

But that raised other issues about whether it's common practice for Dowd to use entire passages from friends in her column without attribution. And when I sent a follow-up email about this to Dowd, she didn't respond. ...

So I put the question of whether this is common practice for columnists before Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal, who passed me along to PR. But now I've now received a statement supporting Dowd from spokesperson Diane McNulty:

"Maureen had us correct the column online as soon as the error was brought to her attention, adding in the sourcing to Marshall's blog. We ran a correction in today's paper, referring readers to the correct version online.

"There is no need to do anything further since there is no allegation, hint or anything else from Marshall that this was anything but an error. It was corrected. Journalists often use feeds from other staff journalists, free-lancers, stringers, a whole range of people. And from friends. Anyone with even the most passing acquaintance with Maureen's work knows that she is happy and eager to give people credit." [Politico]

Credit

But that bit about Dowd being "happy and eager to give people credit" caught my eye, because just moments earlier, I read Tucker Carlson's comments during a Washington Post online discussion: [Media Matters]

"[T]he whole thing is an interesting window into how her column is created. I knew someone once who was on her call rotation. Every week, she'd call and collect amusing lines from him, which she'd invariably use without attribution. Every writer does this to some extent -- I've made a lot of money over the years stealing from my conversations with Matt Labash -- but she seems to do it more than most." [Washington Post]

Hypocrisy?

What Dowd didn't know was that her friend was posturing, presenting Marshall's argument as if it were an original thought. So when Dowd lifted what she thought were her friend's words, she was actually re-stealing something. But because this is Dowd, the high liberal priestess of biting political criticism, the woman who excoriated Joe Biden for plagiarism, her crime is further stained by an air of hypocrisy.

Thus, she is busted and will be virtually eviscerated by her enemies. And it was all so avoidable. [Poynter]

This just in...

VP Joe "Oh, No" Biden rushed to the aid of beleaguered NY Times Columnist Maureen Down today after she admitted she lifted a few paragraphs from a Blogger for use in her column....without attribution.

Biden, who himself is no stranger to plagiarism, was quick to come to the columnist's aid. " Hey, it happens to the best of us. We see something we like, and I often think, wow, why didn't I think to say that....and so I either do say it , or write about it a few times....and then I forget that I never really did have an original thought! "

"Hey man, it's an odds game...how many times have I been caught...2-3 times.....do you know how many times I'e taken credit for other peoples ideas?

"Come on, get in the 21st century...everybody does it, it is a game after all, isn't it? And besides, do you know how many hits I get on Google when I say something really clever that I stole? Get over it!" [The Spoof] (NOTE: The source of the last four paragraphs came from a site called The Spoof.)

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