In case you missed it, Maureen Dowd flat-out plagiarized either a) Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall or b) One of her friends, who quoted Josh Marshall in a phone call with Dowd. Either way, Dowd stole some shit and admitted it. Michael Calderone reports that it doesn’t really matter. From NYT 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.
This is complete bullshit: Dowd. Fucking. Plagiarized. But she’s a Pulitzer winner, a media elite, and a total babe, so the NYT is looking the other way. (I bet Jayson Blair is seething right now! Rick Bragg—not so much.)
Calderone closes his piece with this bit of insight:
If I was e-mailed a 40-plus-word block of text for this blog, and I used it, I’d include some sort of attribution — whether “a reader writes in,” “media insider points out” or whatever the case may be.
But from The Times’ response, it seems the paper finds it acceptable for columnists to take entire paragraphs from friends (or sources?), over the phone or e-mail, and reproduce them verbatim in the paper under the columnist’s byline.
Awesome, Calderone, you’d do differently. So would I. So would my colleagues and our freelancers and every other journalist who actually had to pay the consequences of handing in illegitimate copy. Now, can somebody suggest a good punishment for Dowd, a well-paid, respected columnist at a world-famous institution, who has demonstrated that she’s too lazy to rework a friend’s idea into her own words?
Perhaps a 500-word definition essay on integrity? Or maybe the same thing should happen to her that would happen to a first-year NYT reporter who stole from another journalist…