By: Greg Mitchell
It was a wild Sunday for New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. It opened with her latest column in the newspaper, which closed by declaring that she had once opposed a wide-ranging probe of the uses of torture, and who authorized and knew about it during the Bush administration but now favored it. This brought some praise from liberal news sites and bloggers often critical of Dowd.
But by mid-afternoon she was on the hot seat for using a paragraph almost word-for-word from one of the most prominent liberal bloggers, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, without attribution. Charges of “plagiarism” ensued.
By early evening, Dowd had admitted wrongdoing, in an e-mail to The Huffington Post, and said she wanted to apologize to Marshall. She also said that the Times would issue a correction tomorrow — and the copy was changed in her column to attribute the paragraph to Marshall.
A “correction” on the column did appear later Sunday night, simply stating that she had failed to “attribute” the paragraph to Marshall, but it did not explain how or why that happened or the nearly exact wording.
She seemed to be suggesting, in her note to Huff Post, that she had merely heard the line of argument from a friend, who did not attribute it to Marshall. This wouldn’t explain, however, why the rather lengthy sentence, a full paragraph, matched Marshall’s writing virtually word for word.
Dowd’s note to Huffington Post reads:
“josh is right. I didn’t read his blog last week, and didn’t have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now.
“i was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent — and I assumed spontaneous — way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.
“but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me. we’re fixing it on the web, to give josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction tomorrow.”
Marshall’s original paragraph reads:
“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.”
The only words changed from Marshall paragraph: “we were” to “the Bush crowd was.”