MoDo Lifts a Paragraph From Blogger

2d Update (TChris): The explanation: Dowd didn't read Marshall's post but heard the line from a friend who failed to attribute it to Marshall. This explanation requires you to believe: (1) Dowd's memory captured the once-heard sentence word-for-word (save for one edit), and (2a) the friend also recited the sentence perfectly from memory, or (2b) the friend read the sentence (or more of the post) to Dowd without telling Dowd that she was reading from a blog. Either way, Dowd admits to using someone else's language without attribution. If it's a gift from a friend, why tell? All better now?

Update: The NY Times just changed MoDo's column to credit Josh Marshall for the paragraph. It adds the note: "An earlier version of this column failed to attribute a paragraph about the timeline for prisoner abuse to Josh Marshall’s blog at Talking Points Memo. "

About that Maureen Dowd column BTD wrote about earlier, via Daily Kos, check this out:

Maureen Dowd, Pulitizer Prize winner. Today. New York Times:

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.

Josh Marshall. Blogger. Last Thursday. Talking Points Memo:

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 we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Any bets on what Dowd or the Times will have for an explanation? An intern ghosting her column?

< NORML in Aspen, June 6 -8 | Sunday Night Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Maybe now we know (5.00 / 12) (#2)
    by Spamlet on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:31:11 PM EST
    who kidnapped Josh Marshall.

    You plagiarist! (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Salo on Mon May 18, 2009 at 04:51:18 AM EST
    Poor Somerby.  All these years no mainstream credit.

    Yes! Thank you for solving this nagging... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Shainzona on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:46:50 PM EST

    Actually, because Josh and MoDo are actually the same person  there will not be any big flap about the plagerism.  Hey, what are friends for?


    Win! (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:59:27 PM EST
    Oh, snap! (none / 0) (#29)
    by lambert on Sun May 17, 2009 at 10:22:26 PM EST

    Yes! (none / 0) (#30)
    by phat on Sun May 17, 2009 at 11:11:15 PM EST

    The Times has corrected (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:35:26 PM EST
    and acknowledged that the column failed to credit Josh. See the update above.

    A cribbed paragraph, verbatim (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by Peter G on Sun May 17, 2009 at 07:23:08 PM EST
    is plagiarism, not a mere "failure to credit."  So I wouldn't call the Times "update" a "correction" at all.  I would call it a dishonest obfuscation.

    As someone plagiarized (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Cream City on Mon May 18, 2009 at 09:10:43 AM EST
    yet again, as I found just a few weeks ago: exactly, and thank you.

    It is just a kick in the gut every time it happens.  And once again, the plagiarizer refuses to even acknowledge my communications about it, even asking only that it at least be fixed in following editions.  

    So I give the New York Times editors for acknowledging this one.  It is some progress -- and a warning to the newsroom.


    I practically wrote my girlfriend's... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Salo on Mon May 18, 2009 at 04:52:49 AM EST
    ...MA for her. Thesis, essays etc.  She stole all my best lines too.  

    Holy mackerel! (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by lentinel on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:38:18 PM EST
    Caught with both hands in the cookie jar.

    My wager as to the explanation to be offered:
    She meant for the quote to attributed to Marshall, told her assistant to do so - but the assistant forgot.

    What is mind-boggling is that there is no way that she could have hoped to get away with it.  

    The nature of her column - the crack in her absolute championing of all things Obama - would call even more attention to her than usual - especially from people who would likely be familiar with Marshall's prose.

    Is she the new Jayson Blair?

    Is this a cry for help?

    FWIW (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by NJDem on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:45:31 PM EST
    she also had the NY byline when she was in the Middle East sometime last year--there as something shady about it...  I'll try and find a link.

    IMO, either she really does read TPM and forgot to quote him, or she has a ghost-writer that does...

    I'm in college (at 46) (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:51:09 PM EST
    If I did something like that and was caught...I couldn't just say I forgot.  They'd say, you're just as kicked out of school as you would be if you hadn't forgotten.

    This is a professional newspaper. Plagiarism shouldn't ever be excused, even if they said excuse me.  It's not okay.

    Didn't they tell Maureen (5.00 / 0) (#18)
    by SOS on Sun May 17, 2009 at 07:32:54 PM EST
    we don't do proofreading, editing, permissions, and legal anymore at the NY Times.

    There is no joy in ModoVille (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by stevelaudig on Sun May 17, 2009 at 08:08:41 PM EST
    Mighty Mo strikes out. The next thing is for her to lash out. Doesn't this episode confirm just about every unkind thought that has occurred to one about the way she does her business-shallow, glib, unoriginal, tedious, mundane. I'll stop now.

    modo (none / 0) (#46)
    by skippybkroo on Mon May 18, 2009 at 03:04:58 PM EST
    since ms. dowd is, (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by cpinva on Sun May 17, 2009 at 08:12:28 PM EST
    in some measure responsible for the "election" of george bush in 2000, i hold her partly responsible for every crime committed by it. this might explain, in part, her reluctance (along with the rest of the MSM) to demand an independent prosecutor, rather than just a "truth" commission.

    Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by NYShooter on Sun May 17, 2009 at 08:52:28 PM EST
    MoDo subscribes to the wisdom promulgated by Mike Barnacle, a "real" journalist, who, when asked to comment on a blogger's scoop, stated, "Who cares what a bunch of Bozos in pajamas, who nobody reads, has to say?"

    And, of course, the similarity with Barnacle doesn't end there.

    Yet, something just doesn't make sense. Dowd, like Hillary Clinton, is a seasoned Pro, and professionals just don't do stupid things, especially when it doesn't serve any purpose. I don't believe Hillary is a liar regarding the airport thing, and I wonder if Dowd's "misremembering" to attribute a quote isn't similar.

    I don't know any more than anyone else here, just saying, it doesn't make sense.

    p.s. Having said that, Maureen Dowd deserves all the contempt many of us feel for her in that she uses her perch to disseminate personal, hateful, and harmful bilge which has hurt the Liberal, Progressive, and National cause as much as that other "journalist," Peggy Noonan.

    The simplest explanation (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Fabian on Mon May 18, 2009 at 07:31:37 AM EST
    would be that Dowd didn't write that piece, or didn't write all of it.

    That explains the cut and paste and "the friend" without going through any logical contortions at all.  

    Can't prove it though.


    Yeah, (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Bemused on Mon May 18, 2009 at 10:22:04 AM EST
      my first thought was the "friend" is a friend who happens to work for her and wrote a draft of the column for Dowd to slightly revide and then have published. the friendly assistant probably  forgot to attribute the quote or tell Dowd. That would also explain why the "friend" chose not to be cited as a source.



    Makes sense.... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 18, 2009 at 01:22:14 PM EST
    She once had her brother write her column for her, but that time it wasn't done surreptitiously. Maybe it was a warmup....just in case.

    Hmmmm, so...he becomes, if not a suspect, certainly a "person of interest."


    Picasso once said... (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Salo on Mon May 18, 2009 at 04:57:51 AM EST
    Amateurs imitate and professionals steal.

    Now I could have pretended to have formulated that statement myself Ms MoDo, instead I attributed it the guy who most famously ripped it off the drunk at the sitting next to Picasso at the Rue de Wormwood absinthe bar in 1908.

    Disappointing, but that is how I usually (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Mon May 18, 2009 at 10:29:20 AM EST
    feel about MoDo's input on most issues.  Who knows how this went down.  The current explanations don't seem plausible.

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#1)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:25:20 PM EST
    Is there a Pulitzer Prize for plagiarism?  If so, Ms. Dowd deserves the nomination.

    She's claiming she never read Josh's column, ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Yman on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:37:14 PM EST
    ... and that a "friend" told her the (rather lengthy) line in question without telling her they read it on TPM.


    I had an imaginary friend once, .....

    ...... in preschool.

    Wow (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by lentinel on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:40:47 PM EST
    Her friend told her this lengthy line verbatim, and she remembered it verbatim - transcribing it flawlessly.



    Right down to correct comma (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by byteb on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:48:34 PM EST



    It's baffling she would lie (none / 0) (#21)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 17, 2009 at 08:02:28 PM EST
    about how this happened.  Her explanation is obviously bogus.  She clearly did what any number of others have done and simply forgot to put in the credit in the rush to get her column out.  It's a very, very easy mistake to make, and a prompt admission that that's what she'd done and a groveling apology would have put the whole thing to bed.  I can't figure out what she thinks she gains by putting out such a completely preposterous explanation that even a 10-year-old wouldn't buy it.

    Then why didn't she credit her friend? (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Anne on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:58:46 PM EST
    I mean, come on - if her friend was passing off "the line" as his or her own, shouldn't Dowd have written, "As a friend pointed out to me..." instead of passing it off as her own original thought?

    She'd have been better off just saying that it was supposed to credit TPM, she didn't check the final copy, and it's entirely her fault; I guess the Times had to say it for her.


    Even when questioned (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by joanneleon on Mon May 18, 2009 at 09:45:54 AM EST
    she claims the paragraph was not dictated to her, it was part of a conversation, and her friend failed to tell her that he had read it on TPM.  Also, her friend doesn't want to be quoted.

    Amazing.  Why does she not just tell the truth?

    From NYTPicker, via SusanG at DailyKos.

        Maureen Dowd has responded to our request for clarification on her earlier comment. We wanted to know whether her friend had dictated the paragraph to her for inclusion in her column -- a logical assumption given that it repeated, word for word, Marshall's Thursday post.

        Here's Dowd's email response to the NYTPicker:

        no, we were going back and forth discussing the topic of the column and he made this point and i thought it was a good one and wanted to weave it in; i just didn't realize it was josh marshall's point, and we've now given him credit my friend didn't want to be quoted; but of course i would have been happy to give credit to another writer, as i often do

    what bs! (none / 0) (#43)
    by DFLer on Mon May 18, 2009 at 12:17:11 PM EST
    Sounds more and more like (5.00 / 3) (#44)
    by Fabian on Mon May 18, 2009 at 12:27:56 PM EST
    my explanation is the most plausible - Dowd didn't write it, someone else did.

    Either that or a creative writer is coming up with an dubious line of bull.  If she wrote it, she should have known that was almost exactly a cut and paste job.  She should have also known that TPM is a major blog and that lifting anything practically verbatim would be noticed, and knowing bloggers, remarked on.

    The most likely explanation was that someone was writing at least a portion of the column that bears Dowd's byline, and that writer was the one who included the unattributed quote.  

    Doesn't really matter.  It's all on Dowd even IF she's been letting someone else write for her.

    Whoever Is Writing Dowd's Columns
    is going to be right up there with Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall.


    Amateurs imitate. (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Salo on Mon May 18, 2009 at 04:53:34 AM EST
    Professionals steal.

    What's a Pulitzer really worth if Maureen Dowd has (none / 0) (#7)
    by AX10 on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:44:46 PM EST

    Though I am not suprised to hear she did this.

    Same thought was crossing my mind (none / 0) (#14)
    by nycstray on Sun May 17, 2009 at 06:59:32 PM EST
    Boy, she sure takes down the award to a different level.

    Atrios has Mo Do Apologizing (none / 0) (#15)
    by kidneystones on Sun May 17, 2009 at 07:10:48 PM EST
    Guilty until proven innocent? Always!! Does Mo Do make a habit of plagiarizing other people's work.

    My guess is that Josh will be gracious. Mo Do has enough credibility problems as it is and this escapade won't help.

    I've watched Andrew Sullivan post and remove big pieces very quickly. Print journalists don't have that luxury. Mo Do doesn't fact check her own work, and whether an intern provided the flawed copy or 'a friend', Mo Do should be accused of sloppy research, a frequent error, rather than plagiarism, most likely something she avoids.

    I haven't read her stuff in years.

    Maureen Dowd will get away with this (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by andgarden on Sun May 17, 2009 at 07:18:27 PM EST
    Papers have probably been given Fs for less.

    Barack's African Black Eye vs Tizzy Time (2.00 / 0) (#19)
    by kidneystones on Sun May 17, 2009 at 07:40:13 PM EST
    Hi andgarden, There's something obscene, imho, in piling on for this sort of 'error'. To escape I logged on the BBC Afrique to get the world news with an African slant. Guess what's right on the front page of the BBC's African site: Barack Obama maintient les tribunaux spéciaux There's a lovely snap of a guard tower with this caption: "La prison de Guantanamo Barack Obama avait critiqué les tribunaux militaires spéciaux"

    Then the big bold face:

    C'est par un communiqué écrit diffusé juste avant le weekend, et non pas par une déclaration orale, que Barack Obama a préféré annoncer un revirement dont il savait qu'il serait très impopulaire auprès des organisations de défense des droits de l'Homme.

    Basically, 'aware that the decision to revive military tribunals would be extremely unpopular with human rights organizations, Barack Obama waited until the weekend to release news of the decision in a written statement'.

    Dans ce communiqué, le président américain institue, à nouveau, les tribunaux militaires spéciaux de Guantanamo qu'il avait suspendus, deux jours après avoir remplacé George Bush à la Maison Blanche.

    The next part is just as damning: 'remember how Obama suspended Bush's military tribunals two days into his administration? No longer operative'

    Somalia is falling apart right now with now no-longer imaginary al quaeda allies looking to win a greater share of the power. No doubt the fawning press will be either fussing over Pelosi or challenging Dick Cheney, now that he's no longer calling the shots.

    Mo Do is no plagiarist and its venal and wrong to suggest she is on the basis of a single error.

    But wtf, she's an easy target of opportunity.


    Please KS (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by andgarden on Sun May 17, 2009 at 07:51:20 PM EST
    Lifting that passage would meet most of the definitions of plagiarism that I'm familiar with. Whether MoDo is a plagiarist is a different question: I don't think even she is stupid enough to do something so obvious.  I really think that MoDo is poisonous enough to try and take her down for doing this, but I'm pretty sure it isn't possible.

    Attempting to shut down discussion here because other issues in the world are more important just rings hollow with me. Lots of issues are important.


    OK, Dowd decided to lift from TPM. (none / 0) (#25)
    by kidneystones on Sun May 17, 2009 at 08:55:39 PM EST
    Dowd figured 'what the heck', I'll never get caught and this looks really good. What could possibly happen? That may sound reasonable or plausible to you, but ridiculous to me.

    Guilty until proven innocent, damned as a plagiarist over a single incident, that's not shutting down discussion, it's asking folks I usually respect to focus a little more clearly on the detail and perhaps put the incident in context, both specific to the issue and in the larger picture.

    News does matter and with the integrity of the media already under attack I'm not happy that to see this kind of sloppy work appear in the NYT. That's the issue, for me. Real news, as in world news, is ignored.

    This incident points to systemic problems in a free press. The real news is, meanwhile, ignored.


    "A single incident" is all it takes. (5.00 / 3) (#39)
    by Cream City on Mon May 18, 2009 at 09:17:07 AM EST
    Plagiarism is not a question of quantity.  Or how many instances of plagiarism would it take to be taken seriously?  

    Of course, what may happen in this case, as it often does, is that it can cause some investigation into past columns to see if this is a single incident.  


    Try reading my comment again (none / 0) (#26)
    by andgarden on Sun May 17, 2009 at 08:57:21 PM EST
    I neither implied, nor tried to imply, that MoDo did anything intentionally.

    I don't want to 'take anyone down'. (5.00 / 0) (#28)
    by kidneystones on Sun May 17, 2009 at 09:53:19 PM EST
    Really. I want everyone to think a little more about everything, that everyone includes MoDo. I don't think she should lose her job anymore than I believe Rush 'deserves' to be driven off the airwaves. I believe in free speech, including the freedom to give highly skewed versions of fact.

    Jacob Weisburg at Slate is still working after insisting that anyone who didn't support Obama 'must be racist'. I dislike Andrew Sullivan intensely but I don't believe he should lose his job. We differ in that respect, at least if that's what you mean by 'take down'.

    I try to read all your comments carefully. You do stipulate clearly that the whether MoDo lifted the quote from TPM is a 'separate question'.

    She'd be guilty, as you know, of plagiarism in any academic environment on the evidence we have: her name, somebody else's un-cited work repeated word for word. She might escape if she could prove that there was some problem with formatting by which the original citation was corrupted. Beyond that, toast.

    Problem is, she's not an academic and it's extremely likely her intern offered-up or crafted the passage.

    A billion years, ago, I worked briefly for a prominent magazine and newspaper cartoonist. Guess how many of his own drawings he actually did?


    Academia (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by Bemused on Mon May 18, 2009 at 04:07:13 PM EST
     has a greater tolerance for outright plagiarism than many would care to acknowledge and the taking credit for work one had little participation in creating completely accepted.

      I have a friend who loves to tell the story of how when he was in law school he got hired as a research assistant to one of the Con Law profs. His job was basically to write a law review article for the prof. HE did 100% of the research and pretty much all of the writing. He'd meet with the prof from time to time and get suggestions for revisions and then come back with the revisions.

      For his efforts, in addition to the $6.00 an hor he got mentioned in a footnote along with a dozen other people who  provided  "invaluable" assistance including,  secretaries and library techs etc.

      The kicker though is that when the article was published the first author listed was a faculty member at a more prestigious school whose only real contribution was to have the connections to get the article published.

      This might be an extreme case, but this kind of thing is utterly commonplace.


    So why is Traditional Media (none / 0) (#35)
    by Fabian on Mon May 18, 2009 at 07:29:07 AM EST
    dying a slow death again?

    It must be their strict adherence to high professional standards that's doing them in.

    Dowd is a consistent example of what I loathe about Traditional Media.  Sometimes I'm amazed that Krugman still has a job as a columnist because he's so out of place there.


    very powerful sense of politics in play (none / 0) (#27)
    by joze46 on Sun May 17, 2009 at 09:45:42 PM EST
    Plea bargaining is in the air don't you think? The back room deals are going full swing with harmonic political ying yang. Our new ambassador for China from Utah, well, Jon M. Huntsman has some merit, has an interesting twist he adopted a Chinese girl? It's a whole lot better than here in Illinois with signs all over place to adopt a highway for those great Americans that like to improve property. Sheesh can you believe that stuff?

    Yet just like Illinois politics Huntsman family is tied up all kinds corruption from the family owned chemical company with deals in the lone star state Texas. Do the Hooey gooey, (Google), and find a whole bunch of corruption stuff along with toxic waste.    

    Lets face it Obama has become acclimated to deal making all the while hate radio is on a campaign, across the board, deals are coming down form those closed room discussions. When the Republicans start to agree with Obama. Yuk, Yuk. The Republicans say that Obama is embracing Bush policy. Yikes. Something is going on that is not transparent, likely brown bags of soft money slipping around back there. Please with all the bail out money flying around Please don't tell me loads of it is not used to grease the issues... they all seem to walking around in nice suits lately don't you think?  

    My attention span increases when Obama does a one eighty on some of his promises, like being transparent with the remainder of the photo's in the torture issue. WIND and ABC radio are so heated in ranting that Pelosi should resign because she is complicit with the torture issue. I say this laughingly; with the comedy scenario of course Speaker Pelosi was complicit with Cheney. NOT!

    I don't think so, when one viewed Pelosi sitting next to Cheney the disgusting flux static waves between them are off Maxwell's scale, and to add to my spoof, goof characterization, Indeed the Republicans will announce the Pelosi was there in eighties helping Cheney Coach Saddam Hussein in writing torture rules for Iraqi that refuse to dunk their pinky in ink to vote. Then gas them to get rid of them. All kidding aside it is a very powerful sense of politics to be able to sell weapons to a dictator all the while one knows Saddam used them on his own people. A sick person in that believe is with out a doubt what Cheney is no matter Hate radio rant says about Pelosi.      

    Uhhhmmm .... (none / 0) (#38)
    by Yman on Mon May 18, 2009 at 09:11:17 AM EST
    This is relevant to Maureen Dowd's plagiarism becauuuse ....?