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Maureen Dowd, plagiarist for The New York Times
May 18, 2009 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Excerpt 1: 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. Excerpt 2: 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. Can you tell which is Josh Marshall writing on Talking Points Memo on May 14 and which is Maureen Dowd writing in The New York Times on May 16?
posted by Joe Beese (138 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gawker's take on the subject.
posted by arcolz at 6:46 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Brad Delong's take on the subject.
posted by notyou at 6:48 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Geeze, MoDo's editors need to use turnitin. And her "admission" is an insult to the intelligence of everyone who isn't 14 years old. Then again, I am not surprised; Dowd's column is an exercise in juvenility.
posted by Tullius at 6:49 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ouch. That's so strange - I wonder why Dowd would do that? I don't really buy her "I heard it from a friend" excuse, since, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is identical.

I am utterly confused as to why she wouldn't bother to at least reword it - very bizarre.

The only vaguely exonerating explanation that I can think of is that maybe someone sent it to her in an e-mail, and she used it verbatim without realizing that it had been published somewhere else. But even that seems a bit far-fetched, and not very ethical.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:50 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ouch. That's so strange - I wonder why Dowd would do that? I don't really buy her "I heard it from a friend" excuse, since, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is identical.

I am utterly confused as to why she wouldn't bother to at least reword it - very bizarre.

The only vaguely exonerating explanation that I can think of is that maybe someone sent it to her in an e-mail, and she used it verbatim without realizing that it had been published somewhere else. But even that seems a bit far-fetched, and not very ethical.
posted by Jofus at 6:52 AM on May 18, 2009 [49 favorites]


My take on the subject: More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if Dowd's friend paraphrased Marshall, and she paraphrased her friend, did so little of the wording change? And if her friend plagiarized JMM is her comment to Dowd, that's fine, but is it any less honorable to plagiarize a friend's comment?

Schadenfruede? I'm soaking in it!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:53 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The friend she heard it from? Yup. Scooter Libby.
posted by rusty at 6:53 AM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Extra added irony: Dowd pounced on Joe Biden for that Kinnock plagiarism years ago.
posted by maudlin at 6:54 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not that broken up about it though - Dowd has always had an annoying and mysterious vendetta against the Clintons.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:55 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yikes. That's so bizarre - I wonder why Maureen would do that? I don't really buy her "I heard it from a friend" excuse, since, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is identical.
posted by stevil at 6:56 AM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Jofus, your writing is truly magnificent - are you a NYT columnist in real life? Perhaps a Pulitzer Prize winner?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:56 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, if the New York Times is anything like the New Yorker, at least we can bask in the joy that she's being paid in expired food from the bosses' pantry and books of coupons.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:57 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whenever I hear people mourning the loss of newspapers, I think to myself "No problem, Josh Marshall's go it covered." I read Talking Points Memo daily. I read the New York Times when Josh Marshall links to it. (I realize there's a flaw in this thinking. Let me enjoy my schadenfreude).

I won't shed any tears if MoDo and Broder lose their platforms.
posted by diogenes at 6:57 AM on May 18, 2009


The only vaguely exonerating explanation that I can think of is that maybe someone sent it to her in an e-mail, and she used it verbatim without realizing that it had been published somewhere else. But even that seems a bit far-fetched, and not very ethical.

We've heard that one before.
posted by gman at 6:58 AM on May 18, 2009


Well, if the New York Times is anything like the New Yorker, at least we can bask in the joy that she's being paid in expired food from the bosses' pantry and books of coupons.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that she gets around $300K/year for her NYT columns.

Solution: fire the shit out of Dowd and hire Marshall. Everybody wins, except Dowd, which means everybody wins, especially America.
posted by billysumday at 6:59 AM on May 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


That's interesting Salvor Hardin and Jofus.
What would cause you to comment EXACTLY? Before I previewed, my comment was 'Get over yourselves. No, I can't, and quite frankly, I don't care. America. Guilt. Politics. Plagiarism. You've been there, done that.'
Now…
posted by tellurian at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


MoDos friend made the point so cogently

that even the commas fall in the same places. That's some seriously detailed conversation she has.


That was the first thing that struck me about that excuse. With a proper apology and contrition nearly all minor bad acts such as this plagiarism are generally forgiven. Lying and covering up will often get you into more trouble.
posted by caddis at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2009


Ouch. That's so strange - I wonder why Dowd would do that? I don't really buy her "I heard it from a friend" excuse, since, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is identical.

I am utterly confused as to why she wouldn't bother to at least reword it - very bizarre.

The only vaguely exonerating explanation that I can think of is that maybe someone sent it to her in an e-mail, and she used it verbatim without realizing that it had been published somewhere else. But even that seems a bit far-fetched, and not overly ethical.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:02 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


These are the professionals we're supposed to be mourning and scrambling to save, the ones whose work all the rest of us are supposedly sponging off of. You know, the ones a democracy can't function without.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:02 AM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Heard it from a friend who / heard it from a friend who / heard it from another you'd been transcribing entire paragraphs from a quite prominent blogger then got caught then came up with a bullshit excuse (guitar solo)
posted by billysumday at 7:03 AM on May 18, 2009 [14 favorites]


You know what pisses me off about plagiarism? It's so fucking easy to catch. It's the world's laziest crime.

She should be fired, on the fucking spot. If she keeps her job, journo-schools might as well remove their anti-plagiarism policies. Or word them better. "No plagiarism while attending this school."
posted by graventy at 7:07 AM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm picturing keyboard cat, his tiny paws hovering over the keys. The music is coming Dowd. It's coming for you!
posted by diogenes at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2009 [14 favorites]


Surely, Rosenthal will give her a hearty verbose slap on the wrist and don't you ever, ever, ever do it again now let's go to Waverly Inn and have a drink and forget about all that, shall we? - Gawker commenter
posted by Joe Beese at 7:09 AM on May 18, 2009


Someone named Ampersand should invite her to join this thread.
posted by gman at 7:10 AM on May 18, 2009


Salvor Hardin - I just happened to be talking to a friend of mine about this the other day. You wouldn't know him. He lives in Canada.
posted by Jofus at 7:12 AM on May 18, 2009


Okay but seriously people I have a real question and that is: how does she not get fired? I honestly don't understand how/why/under what circumstances she keeps her job.
posted by billysumday at 7:17 AM on May 18, 2009


Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?
posted by flabdablet at 7:18 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


billysumday: "I honestly don't understand how/why/under what circumstances she keeps her job."

She's a marquee name. That's why.

If this were an unknown, their belongings would be in a box on the sidewalk already.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:19 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe she thought her readership didn't overlap with his at all. I mean, who reads Maureen Dowd?
posted by RussHy at 7:19 AM on May 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Republicans and other right wingnuts do this all the time. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard carefully prepared talking points emanating from their mouths — it is one thing to believe it, but it's quite another to see the puppet's fingers at the back of the soft felt mouth.

Fire Dowd? If only this could be used to fire Orson Scott Card, whose essays are so often regurgitations of assorted "points," strung together in a way which resembles thought.
posted by adipocere at 7:22 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not a particularly nice hunk of prose, nor a major one. If this is theft, it is like stealing someone's appendix. They weren't really using it, and since they're a blogger their organs are pretty much up for harvest, but still - motive? Then again:

dow·dy
adj.
Lacking in neatness; worn; accoutred in hand-me-downs or second-hand clothing; given to wearing discarded human skins.
posted by kid ichorous at 7:23 AM on May 18, 2009


As my mother in law informed me this summer "Blogs don't do anything. They steal from newspapers and now newspapers are dying." EOM.
posted by zerobyproxy at 7:25 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that she gets around $300K/year for her NYT columns.

She makes that for writing what amounts to two or three blog entries a week? If they offered any useful insight, that might almost be defendable but mostly she just serves up some mildly snarky comments that reveal a pretty shallow view of current events.
posted by octothorpe at 7:25 AM on May 18, 2009


If they canned Dowd and brought back Bill Kristol the times can have the same amount of hot air with half the plagiarism.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:28 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yikes. That's very odd - I can only speculate as to why Maureen Dowd would do such a thing. That she 'heard it from a friend' doesn't really seem plausible given that the punctuation is the same, as Daily Kos is at pains to note.

It's inexplicable to me why she didn't even trouble herself to use different words - most peculiar.

The lone exculpatory reason that I can seize upon is that perhaps she received it in her email, and copied it word-for-word unaware that it had already been posted online. Yet that too seems unlikely, and rather underhanded to boot.
posted by Ritchie at 7:30 AM on May 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Any possibility that she did this accidentally on purpose?
posted by iamkimiam at 7:33 AM on May 18, 2009


Marquee name or not, I think she should have been fired on the spot, too. Nobody should be above the law. The fact that powerful people can get away with this kind of thing is a plank in the eye of everything it means to be American.
posted by jock@law at 7:33 AM on May 18, 2009


Okay but seriously people I have a real question and that is: how does she not get fired?

I do not wish to sound snarky, but am genuinely curious: how did you get to the age where you can use a computer competently without also imbibing the fact that once you pass a certain threshold of fame there is really very little you can do to get yourself in serious trouble?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:33 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


NYT: a bit far-fetched, and not very ethical
posted by DU at 7:35 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ouch! That's strange! I wonder why she kept his identical punctuation... To be honest Im too lazy to really do this right.
What they said. Now where's my 300k. Yes, I'll negotiate.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:36 AM on May 18, 2009


Ouch. That's so strange - I wonder why Dowd would do that? I don't really buy her "I heard it from a friend" excuse, since, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is identical.

Unless by "heard" she meant "heard via email" which is certainly possible.

Glenn Greenwald had a take on this as well (how could he not)?

It's interesting how newspapers constantly claim that bloggers are siphoning their vital life force, and never do any real reporting, etc, but in fact newspaper people take stuff from blogs all the time.
posted by delmoi at 7:39 AM on May 18, 2009


how did you get to the age where you can use a computer competently without also imbibing the fact that once you pass a certain threshold of fame there is really very little you can do to get yourself in serious trouble?

LOL. Ask the guy serving you a Whopper at Burger King who Maureen Dowd is. She's only famous in that she has a NYT column, which can be taken away from her quite quickly. She's an embarrassment to the company who is paying her 300K/year while losing millions in revenue every week. You don't think she can get fired because she's so "famous"? You may be right, friend. I'll be waiting for the latest People magazine cover story to really get to the heart of the matter!
posted by billysumday at 7:39 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless by "heard" she meant "heard via email" which is certainly possible.

So she must be able to produce that email, complete with headers.
posted by DU at 7:40 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there any possible way for this incident to get twisted around so that Tom Friedman gets fired for it?
posted by grounded at 7:40 AM on May 18, 2009 [18 favorites]


Unless by "heard" she meant "heard via email" which is certainly possible.

So she must be able to produce that email, complete with headers.


Even if she did that, she'd be admitting to copying/pasting her friends' emails into directly into her columns. Doesn't seem all that much better.
posted by billysumday at 7:41 AM on May 18, 2009


Is she on Ambien or something?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2009


I am utterly confused as to why she wouldn't bother to at least reword it - very bizarre.

posted by robocop is bleeding


I hear they're adding that function to the new iPhone - - cut, paste, reword...
posted by fairmettle at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2009


If you're going to plagiarize, at least plagiarize a well-constructed sentence. More and more the timeline is raising... No passive voice please!
posted by wayofthedodo at 7:43 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


delmoi: "Glenn Greenwald had a take on this as well (how could he not)? "

Priceless.

Maureen Dowd's wholesale, uncredited copying of a paragraph written by Josh Marshall (an act Dowd has now admitted) -- for what I yesterday called her "uncharacteristically cogent and substantive column"...

Oh, it was characteristic, all right. It was just someone else's character!
posted by Joe Beese at 7:43 AM on May 18, 2009


Yikes. That's very odd - I can only speculate as to why Maureen Dowd would do such a thing. That she 'heard it from a friend' doesn't really seem plausible given that the punctuation is the same, as Daily Kos is at pains to note.

It's inexplicable to the Bush crowd why she didn't even trouble herself to use different words - most peculiar.

The lone exculpatory reason that I can seize upon is that perhaps she received it in her email, and copied it word-for-word unaware that it had already been posted online. Yet that too seems unlikely, and rather underhanded to boot.
posted by rusty at 7:45 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is what you get when she's interviewing rather than plagiarizing. I don't know which I prefer.
posted by ardgedee at 7:45 AM on May 18, 2009


Marquee name or not, I think she should have been fired on the spot, too. Nobody should be above the law. The fact that powerful people can get away with this kind of thing is a plank in the eye of everything it means to be American.

Plagiarism isn't illegal, copyright infringement is. And this is a fairly minor excerpt. And I doubt that JMM would actually sue the NYT over this.

--

That said, I'm kind of conflicted here. I mean, the article with the lifted passage was an article advocating for a truth commission. I would certainly hate to see someone using their prominent, widely read column to advocate for a truth commission, especially in a fit of blogger triumphalism from people who would mostly be for truth commissions anyway. Certainly Josh Marshal is. How Ironic would that be?

The fact that MoDo usually just writes vapid nonsense is kind of beside the point.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 AM on May 18, 2009


It sure seems to carry the Republican's water when the folks on the NY Times editorial page are directly lifting talking points from "Talking Points Memo"....
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:50 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


These are the professionals we're supposed to be mourning and scrambling to save, the ones whose work all the rest of us are supposedly sponging off of. You know, the ones a democracy can't function without.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 10:02 AM on May 18 [2 favorites +] [!]


No, they aren't. People like this should come clean or get fired, no matter who they're sleeping with. These are not the honorable people I've spent my life working with and I wouldn't want them in my newsroom.
posted by etaoin at 7:52 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Holy cow. That's so weird. - I wonder why Dowd would do that? I don't really think her "I heard it from a friend" excuse holds water, since, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is near identical.

I LOVE THIS!! Have always hated Dowd. I still feel like she had some TINY role in Gore not getting enough votes in 2000. She was part of the crowd who couldn't help themselves but make fun of Gore and talk about how awkward he was and how his personality was that of a robot. Instead of rallying people to make the right choice all she can talk about is what people wear.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 7:53 AM on May 18, 2009


wayofthedodo, "the timeline is raising..." is active. The timeline raises questions, but questions are not being raised by the timeline.
posted by Bromius at 7:53 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


The times would be greatly improved by replacing the entire op-ed page with TPM.
posted by empath at 7:54 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, by all means let's tar and feather her, but in the meantime I would like to call for a moratorium on calling her MoDo. And by moratorium I mean that the more often people say it, the more I wish I were dead.
posted by penduluum at 7:55 AM on May 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


It sure seems to carry the Republican's water when the folks on the NY Times editorial page are directly lifting talking points from "Talking Points Memo"....

The name was meant to be ironic.

Thinking about this, I think what happened here is that MoDo basically let her friend write her whole column and just published it as a favor. Her friend took notes and copied 'n' pasted from the TPM post. MoDo just added the finishing touches. Maybe this person was some powerful person she was trying to curry favor with, or maybe she just thought it would be an interesting topic.
posted by delmoi at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2009


Speaking of Truth Commissions: I love how the GOP has made Pelosi the face of torture. Cheney? Protecting America. Torture lawyers? Just doing their job. Bush? Who? Pelosi? Worse than Hitler.
posted by DU at 8:02 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Funny. I was playing with my kids at the children's room in our local library yesterday when I noticed the smiling visage of our president, Barack Obama, looking down upon us from a poster shouting "READ!" President Obama was himself reading. In his hands he held a book called "Team of Rivals" by, well, a plagiarist.

The library needs more posters that say "PLAGERIZE!"
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:03 AM on May 18, 2009


Dowd is a hack. Josh is really, really smart.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:07 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason that she won't be fired is simple: PULITZER PULITZER PULITZER, which is something that they don't give out to bloggers yet, AFAIK. (And which she's admitted that she got purely on the coattails of the Clinton sex scandal--IIRC, she actually thanked Bill Clinton in her acceptance speech for not telling Monica to pull her pants up and stop flashing her thong at him.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:09 AM on May 18, 2009


perhaps it's a clever plot to get us talking about something else besides torture
posted by pyramid termite at 8:11 AM on May 18, 2009


If she hasnt gotten fired for the last 10 years of miserable, pointless columns which read as if they could be from Cortex's Markov generator, she wont get fired for this. Or even really apologize. She sells papers.
posted by shothotbot at 8:12 AM on May 18, 2009


I would like to call for a moratorium on calling her MoDo . . .

Can we keep doing it for long enough to have a headline that says: TALKING POINTS MODO?
posted by The Bellman at 8:13 AM on May 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


She sells papers.

Which explains why papers are selling so well.
posted by DU at 8:14 AM on May 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Speaking of Truth Commissions: I love how the GOP has made Pelosi the face of torture. Cheney? Protecting America. Torture lawyers? Just doing their job. Bush? Who? Pelosi? Worse than Hitler.

It's a strange strategy, that obviously could backfire if Pelosi is sincere in calling for truth commissions. It seems like she probably thinks that either she'll be vindicated, or that any role she might have played would pale in comparison to Dick Cheney, Rumsfeild, and the rest of the crew.

Yglesias makes a similar point: that by trying to snare pelosi into this whole thing, they actually make the case for a truth commission much stronger: We're obviously not going to "look forward" so we might as well do this properly, rather the having a bunch of rumors, selective leaking and innuendo. He thinks their hope was that once Pelosi was somehow implicated, she and the rest of the liberals would back off not wanting to go down with the republicans. That appears not to have worked on Pelosi, and the average liberal doesn't actually care that much about her.

Another possibility is that republicans actually do believe that a truth commission would be bad for Obama, and are therefore actively supporting it. Lots of conservatives have actually said we should have them, and that they would be vindicated. Are they bluffing or do they really think this is a good idea? I'm sure different conservatives have different motivations.
posted by delmoi at 8:15 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


empath: "The times would be greatly improved by replacing the entire op-ed page with TPM."

Yea but then they'd hire Michelle Malkin or someone from RedState for "balance".
posted by octothorpe at 8:15 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I guess the only way to really know what happened - for sure! - is to take her in for torture.
posted by krilli at 8:16 AM on May 18, 2009


These are the professionals we're supposed to be mourning and scrambling to save, the ones whose work all the rest of us are supposedly sponging off of. You know, the ones a democracy can't function without.

Well, no, it's the reporters (both the front-line beat reporters and the in-depth investigative journalists) that we're supposed to be mourning and scrambling to save, the ones a democracy can't function without. And indeed, I have more than a little concern if most or all of those positions are eliminated.

Dowd is not a reporter; she's an op-ed columnist, and I see no great harm to democracy if high-profile paid columnists such as her disappear. Let's be clear on the distinction between the two.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2009 [13 favorites]


It's not torture, it's enhanced interrogation.
posted by RussHy at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2009


Lots of conservatives have actually said we should have them, and that they would be vindicated.

If the discussion here from last week is any indication, I think this must be it. In their fevered imaginings, it'll go like this: Those things are horrible but Bush/Cheney did what they had to do to keep the country safe. But Pelosi is a San Francisco librul who by definition does not want to keep the country safe, therefore she had no justification for testicular crushing. Burn her.
posted by DU at 8:27 AM on May 18, 2009


Plagiarize,
Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -
Only be sure always to call it please 'research'.
posted by lukemeister at 8:29 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed that after more than seventy comments in this thread, no more instances of plagarism have been revealed by the MeFi Detective Squad.
posted by exogenous at 8:29 AM on May 18, 2009


It sure seems to carry the Republican's water when the folks on the NY Times editorial page are directly lifting talking points from "Talking Points Memo"....

Broder does the heavy lifting in the water carrying department.
posted by diogenes at 8:35 AM on May 18, 2009


"You wouldn't know him. He lives in Canada."

It's John right? I've been meaning to swing buy his place and introduce myself for ages.
posted by Mitheral at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2009


PEANUTS!! POPCORN!!1

1
The guy at the ballpark gave me this line
posted by not_on_display at 8:43 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would like to call for a moratorium on calling her MoDo . . .

Can we keep doing it for long enough to have a headline that says: TALKING POINTS MODO?


Or "Oh no! Say it 'aint so MoDo!"
posted by diogenes at 8:44 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was wondering how this could have happened -- why she didn't just reword the lifted passage, especially given how easily plagiarism between a well-known NYT columnist and a well-known political blogger would be noticed -- and then I remembered junior high and high school, where one popular way to "write" book reports and essays was to copy paragraphs from your sources, assemble them into a roughly coherent order, and then go through and reword them enough to make them sound more or less like yourself.

If Dowd's m.o. is something similar to this -- throw all your notes and clippings onto the page, organize, then reword -- it's possible she accidentally skipped that passage, and that's how it ended up in print.
posted by Byun-o-matic at 8:46 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought mathowie was MOD0.
posted by lukemeister at 8:48 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm disappointed that after more than seventy comments in this thread, no more instances of plagarism have been revealed by the MeFi Detective Squad.

No one wants to read her column.
posted by graventy at 8:50 AM on May 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


Nick Heling to me

hey joe is this what you needed?
DisplayPort to VGA
$18.85
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=104&cp_id=10428&cs_id=1042802&p_id=5107&seq=1&format=2

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posted by fuq at 8:50 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, did I do that wrong? I guess I could never be a columnist for the New York Times.
posted by fuq at 8:50 AM on May 18, 2009


Yea but then they'd hire Michelle Malkin or someone from RedState for "balance".

That's a better deal than we got in Philly! We got John Yoo and no Josh Marshall!
posted by The Straightener at 8:58 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought mathowie was MOD0.

You thought he was what modulo zero?

Is there even such a thing as mod 0?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:14 AM on May 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Halloween Jack: PULITZER, which is something that they don't give out to bloggers yet

Actually, they have begun giving out Pulitzers for blogs, but only for local/regional journalism, which seems like an arbitrary limitation. Talking Points Memo isn't eligible.
posted by adamrice at 9:21 AM on May 18, 2009


Can we keep doing it for long enough to have a headline that says: TALKING POINTS MODO?

Is this something I would have to own a pocket protector to understand?
posted by diogenes at 9:25 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


can't we all just be happy that more than one person 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?

your complaining is why we cant have nice things.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:29 AM on May 18, 2009


It's not plagiarism; it's enhanced rephrasing.
posted by quin at 9:37 AM on May 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


ardgedee: This is what you get when she's interviewing rather than plagiarizing. I don't know which I prefer.

Christ, what an asshole.
ME: Hey, did you know that you suck?
BIZ: Er, no, not especially.
ME: Can you tell me why you suck so hard?
BIZ: Uh.
ME: 'Cause you do. I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account. How do you feel about that?
BIZ: ...
ME: *sits back smugly*
posted by flatluigi at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, sometimes you just forget you read things, then your brain just kinda pulls those words back out, and your meter and timbre are all the same.

Y'know, ouch. That's so strange - I wonder why Dowd would do that? I don't really buy her "I heard it from a friend" excuse, since, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is identical.

Oh, I am utterly confused as to why she wouldn't bother to at least reword it - very bizarre.

Uh, The only vaguely exonerating explanation that I can think of is that maybe someone sent it to her in an e-mail, and she used it verbatim without realizing that it had been published somewhere else. But even that seems a bit far-fetched, and not very ethical.
posted by davemee at 9:47 AM on May 18, 2009


Is there even such a thing as mod 0?

Might as well be, but x mod 0 defined is just x, and the quotient group Z/nZ for n = 0 is just isomorphic to Z.

posted by kid ichorous at 9:52 AM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Straightener: "Yea but then they'd hire Michelle Malkin or someone from RedState for "balance".

That's a better deal than we got in Philly! We got John Yoo and no Josh Marshall!
"

And don't forget Rick Santorum, he's got a column in your fine paper too.
posted by octothorpe at 9:57 AM on May 18, 2009


MoDo

Did you mean: MODOK
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:02 AM on May 18, 2009


Plagiarism isn't illegal, copyright infringement is. And this is a fairly minor excerpt. And I doubt that JMM would actually sue the NYT over this.

I don't understand your distinction between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Can you tease that out for me a little?

While she copied only a little bit, "de minimis" copying can still infringe copyright. Bridgeport Music. And the combination of her commercial use, the commentary nature of the copied text (factual writing tends to have less protection), and the substantiality of the copied text (it was fully a third of the blog post and the only 100%-original paragraph) all seem to weigh against a fair use defense under 17 U.S.C. § 107. (Note, however, that IANA©L.)

Whether he would choose to sue the Times Dowd over this has no bearing on whether it's a criminal violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2319(b) ("Any person who ['willfully infringes a copyright ... for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain,' 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(A),] shall be imprisoned not more than 5 years, or fined in the amount set forth in this title, or both....").

However, assume arguendo that her behavior were not illegal. The idea that "nobody should be above the law" would remain, in my opinion, applicable. The principle should be as pertinent to professional ethical standards as it is to honest-to-God, legislatively-sanctioned statutes.

posted by jock@law at 10:06 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a better deal than we got in Philly! We got John Yoo and no Josh Marshall!

Holy fuck. Does David Addington write your horoscopes?

posted by kid ichorous at 10:09 AM on May 18, 2009


Is there even such a thing as mod 0?

Might as well be, but x mod 0 defined is just x, and the quotient group Z/nZ for n = 0 is just isomorphic to Z.


Oh bizarre. My intuition would have been that it was undefined. But I can clearly see that x - (0*n) = x for any n ∈ ℝ. And modulo in my mind does have a closer semantic tie to left-over-ness than to having-been-divided-ness.

posted by jock@law at 10:17 AM on May 18, 2009


What if Josh Marshall had been writing Maureen Dowd's columns all along?
posted by monospace at 10:18 AM on May 18, 2009


She should just write an open letter to her readers, apologizing, saying she had read Marshall's piece, that it was in her notes and the sentence in question was accidentally copied into her article. It's something I've caught before in proofing articles and not exactly the rarest of mistakes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:21 AM on May 18, 2009


modulo in my mind does have a closer semantic tie to left-over-ness

"left-over-ness" is usually referred to as "remainderosity".

Also, I'm glad you said "closer semantic tie" rather than "the same as". (warning: self-link)

posted by DU at 10:26 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


...Let's see if that closes the tag
posted by leotrotsky at 10:29 AM on May 18, 2009


I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that she gets around $300K/year for her NYT columns.

Gadzooks. For $300,000 a year she can hire a fact checker or something.
posted by mecran01 at 10:30 AM on May 18, 2009


diogenes: ..."Oh no! Say it 'aint so MoDo!"

Heh.
posted by aydeejones at 10:42 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is so stupid that I'm inclined to believe there's an innocent explanation. But I hope she gets canned anyway; her columns are terrible.
posted by grobstein at 10:48 AM on May 18, 2009


ME: Hey, did you know that you suck?
BIZ: Er, no, not especially.
ME: Can you tell me why you suck so hard?
BIZ: Uh.
ME: 'Cause you do. I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account. How do you feel about that?
BIZ: ...
ME: *sits back smugly*
So she doesn't like torture or twitter? Hmm, she's starting to grow on me.

I don't understand your distinction between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Can you tease that out for me a little?

If you pay someone to write a paper for you, that's not copyright infringement. On the other hand, if you take a long passage from someone's work, with proper citations and quotation marks, it can still be copyright infringement (take for example, struggles between James Joyce's estate and people who want to write books about Joyce. The estate won't allow long excerpts without approving of the rest of the content, which has been frustrating scholars)

So in other words, you can have plagiarism without copyright infringement, and you can have copyright infringement without plagiarism. They are not the same thing, and neither one is a subset of the other.

What MoDo did here was take a small bit of text without attribution. If she had taken it with attribution it would have fallen under fair use, just like sampling a song. I don't don't know if there is any implication under copyright law for attribution when quoting text or not.
posted by delmoi at 11:03 AM on May 18, 2009


So in other words, you can have plagiarism without copyright infringement, and you can have copyright infringement without plagiarism. They are not the same thing, and neither one is a subset of the other.

Fair enough. I do however feel that this case remains squarely in the intersection of the two.
posted by jock@law at 11:08 AM on May 18, 2009


I think the explanation in Brad DeLong's blog (linked at top of thread) is most plausible--Dowd probably has a habit of reading through the blogosphere to see what everyone is talking about, to get good ideas and insights, etc. (because clearly she rarely has substantive ones of her own, I tried for a while to like her column because I like the moxie in her writing style, but nope, not much there). She probably copies bits she likes and wants to include, and stitches together "her" thoughts that way, and this quote slipped through without rewording. (Also what byun-o-matic said.)

This mistake may have revealed something much more damning than a single act of plagiarism, that her working method is to write columns that are collages of other people's thoughts and insights.

Also, Is there any possible way for this incident to get twisted around so that Tom Friedman gets fired for it?

That would be the best possible outcome for this situation, definitely.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:11 AM on May 18, 2009


The New York Times plagiarized all that Torture stuff from a blog? See! I told you none of that torture stuff was true!

/right wing insanity
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:23 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


diogenes: ..."Oh no! Say it 'aint so MoDo!"

Heh.


Wow! That was fast! The internets are listening to me today. I'll stand by my word and not refer to her as MoDo from this day forward!

Here's what I want next internets:

A picture of Maureen Dowd with keyboard cat hovering over her. The text should read "Don't ask for whom keyboard cat plays. He plays for thee!"
posted by diogenes at 11:26 AM on May 18, 2009


In related news:

Cheney said in 2004 Gitmo detainees revealed Iraq-al Qaida link

Cheney's playing a big game of chicken. Its the only move he has left. He's going to lose.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:36 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can clearly see that x - (0*n) = x for any n ∈ ℝ.

That makes sense even to me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:44 AM on May 18, 2009


Cheney's playing a big game of chicken.

I don't get why, though. The comment upthread is about the GOP-as-a-whole strategery, which seems to be/have been "They'll never pursue this once their beloved Pelosi's ass is on the line!" But Cheney himself isn't attacking Pelosi, he's just defending himself. Why did he even open his mouth? Just remain in an undisclosed location and let Obama hide the evidence for him.
posted by DU at 11:46 AM on May 18, 2009


Cheney is simply praying very hard to an icosahedron that another terrorist attack will transpire on American soil. If one does, he and his intend to clean up on the fluctuations in markets and morale. He has absolutely nothing to lose in his present shambles and potentially everything to win, hence the sackcloth and doomsaying.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:55 AM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't get why, though. The comment upthread is about the GOP-as-a-whole strategery, which seems to be/have been "They'll never pursue this once their beloved Pelosi's ass is on the line!" But Cheney himself isn't attacking Pelosi, he's just defending himself. Why did he even open his mouth? Just remain in an undisclosed location and let Obama hide the evidence for him.

Well no one has ever really accused these fools of having any judgment whatsoever. His only move is to preemptively jump in there and hope to intimidate the President of the United States.

Note that Obama is keeping his options open. This isn't about the contractors who did the interrogations--those prosecutions will be as important as the people who went to jail under Nixon--not really important. This is about political fallout. Permanent political fallout which will make torturing people a radioactive move.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:56 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cheney is simply praying very hard to an icosahedron....

Pfff, that much is obvious to the most casual viewer.
posted by DU at 11:57 AM on May 18, 2009


Yikes. That's very odd - I can only speculate as to why Maureen Dowd would do such a thing. That she 'heard it from a friend' doesn't really seem plausible given that the punctuation is the same, as Daily Kos is at pains to note.

It's inexplicable to the Bush crowd why she didn't even trouble herself to use different words - most peculiar.

The lone exculpatory reason that I can seize upon is that perhaps she received it in her email, and copied it word-for-word unaware that it had already been posted online. Yet that too seems unlikely, and rather underhanded to boot.
posted by liza at 12:04 PM on May 18, 2009


MoD'oh!
[stolen]
posted by kirkaracha at 12:05 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another possibility is that republicans actually do believe that a truth commission would be bad for Obama, and are therefore actively supporting it. Lots of conservatives have actually said we should have them, and that they would be vindicated.

Lots of conservatives remember the Iran Contra hearings.
posted by straight at 12:10 PM on May 18, 2009


Plagiarism isn't illegal, copyright infringement is.
Wait, what?
Unless you're claiming "Fair Use," which I'm fine with, but organizations like the AP seem to have a problem with.
Maybe there needs to be an Associated Bloggers organization that could take these pirates to court?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:20 PM on May 18, 2009


My friend show me. I show New York Times. Why MoDo?
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


What a stupid thing for her to have done. So stupid I have to assume it was an accident. Maybe cutting and pasting stuff into a work-file and she got sloppy and lifted a quote without attribution. Or maybe a sentence remembered verbatim. It's possible. Sloppy and stupid and needing a complete apology, but not deliberate theft.

OTOH, the original is two days old. Doesn't the NYT editor have access to the Internet? There's a bunch of plagiarism-detection products that search for phrases from student papers on Google to see if the paper is stolen. Why not do the same with pre-publication journalism?
posted by Nelson at 2:04 PM on May 18, 2009


One does not simply walk into MoDo.
posted by verb at 4:39 PM on May 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


"More and more the timeline is raising... No passive voice please"

That is not passive voice. It is the present continous, active voice. "The timeline" is the subject, and "questions" is the object.

The (present continuous) passive voice would be "More and more, questions are being raised by the timeline..."

I presume there is some Strunkian dogma you think is being violated here, but whatever it is, it isn't (mis)use of the passive voice.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:07 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


She's toast.
posted by Bonzai at 7:52 PM on May 18, 2009


The comment upthread is about the GOP-as-a-whole strategery. . .

Ah, so acting like as-a-wholes is actually their strategery?

Alfred Hitchcock would have loved the Twitter headquarters here. Birds gathering everywhere. . .

Note to Dowd: Hitchcock directed over 60 films. Only one of them was notably bird-orientated. I'm not sure which is really worse: the seas of one-molecule-deep writing or the monocellular act of plagiarism under discussion.

I would like to call for a moratorium on calling her MoDo . . .

Yeah, she's not a real Modo anyway, more a sort of Psuedomodo or Semimodo or. . . oh, what's the word I'm looking for here? Ring any bells? I've a hunch it will.
posted by Herodios at 8:22 PM on May 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


As others have said, the fact that she wouldn't man up and offer a complete and believable apology is what's so infuriating.

Yes dear, those dirty unwashed bloggers will be drinking your milkshake until the day you're writing glamour columns for Parade, which is still better than you deserve, toots.
posted by bardic at 9:02 PM on May 18, 2009


Pray for MoDo.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:08 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always hoped that if she got fired it would be because her columns suck, not because she stole them. I've had it out for her ever since the 2004 Democratic primary, when she wrote an entire column on Wesley Clark's wearing a sweater. Her cloying little touches of "femininity" in all her columns make me want to eject my uterus.
posted by Nattie at 10:31 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hitchcock directed over 60 films. Only one of them was notably bird-orientated.

The bird was something of a leitmotif for Hitchcock. Have a look in Norman's room in Psycho, with its stuffed birds. Watch the beginning of Young and Innocent, in which the discovery of the body is preceded by a rather alarming shot of a seagull's eye. The cropduster sequence in North by Northwest is like the attack of a giant bird. There are the pigeons in the courtyard in Rear Window, and the birds in the bomb maker's pet shop in Sabotage. ("The birds will sing at 1.45.") The dream sequence in Spellbound contains an outsize bird.

Also, uh, Gregory Peck.
posted by Wolof at 11:05 PM on May 18, 2009


Forget about this, people. There's much more important stuff online. For example, Cat-Scan.com is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:13 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not torture, it's enhanced interrogation.

It's not plagiarism, it's enhanced education.

Best explanation that comes to mind, and not the one she put out there, is that wanted to riff on the quote, copied and pasted it forgot to add, "As Josh Marshall notes...,".

That aside, I lost a lot of respect for JM when he was so far up Obama like he was God and going after Clinton like she was torturing kittens and beating infants with the bloody kitten pulp. If someone's willing to get a long way out there, publish what are documentable distortions, half-truths, etc., they won't do it again because... why?
posted by ambient2 at 5:09 AM on May 19, 2009


The cropduster sequence in North by Northwest is like the attack of a giant bird.

Ah, finally that scene makes sense to me! It makes absolutely no sense as an attack by an airplane, after all. How does something as small, darting and low as a human get threatened by something as non-maneuverable and required-to-be-high as an airplane? It's ridiculous! (The gunshots are even more ridiculous. You can't really hit anything from an airplane. And from an enclosed cropduster? Apparently shooting backwards? I'll give them the poisoning, though.)

But a giant bird, now. THAT makes sense.
posted by DU at 5:20 AM on May 19, 2009


*ducks as Nattie's uterus sails by*
posted by lukemeister at 5:25 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, Hitchcock had a birdcage on his lap during his cameo in To Catch a Thief.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:19 PM on May 19, 2009


Next week — Hitchcock's tremendous fear of eggs.
posted by Wolof at 12:45 AM on May 20, 2009


Ouch. That's so strange - I am utterly confused as to why she wouldn't bother to at least reword it - very bizarre.
I wonder why Dowd would do that?
The only vaguely exonerating explanation that I can think of is that maybe someone sent it to her in an e-mail, as the Daily Kos points out, the punctuation is identical.

I don't really buy her "I heard it from a friend" excuse, since I am utterly confused as to why she wouldn't bother to at least reword it - very bizarre.

But even that seems a bit far-fetched, and not overly ethical.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 10:35 AM on May 22, 2009


Probably the more amazing thing is how little play this has gotten in the media. Plagiarism really does seem to be getting more acceptable in journalism.
posted by caddis at 10:39 AM on May 22, 2009


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