By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The blogosphere versus Maureen Dowd

Simon Owens has the latest on the Maureen Dowd plagiarism story, with quotes from Dowd and a no-comment from Josh Marshall.

The New York Times has already updated Dowd’s column to credit Marshall, but there’s no acknowledgment that there was a problem in the first place.

OK, this is premature, but here is Dowd friend Howell Raines’ 1998 takedown of the Boston Globe, which he chastises for failing to fire star columnist Mike Barnicle after he’d been caught plagiarizing one-liners from a book by George Carlin.

I would imagine Times editors are going to have to do something even if Dowd’s explanation pans out. I’d also guess that the next 24 hours will be key. Right now, we can assume that dozens (hundreds?) of bloggers are scouring every column she’s ever written.

If she can survive that, then she’ll get through this. If not, then all bets are off.

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Maureen Dowd accused of plagiarism


Torturing the language


  1. Dunwich

    The quote was a piece of cake to pick up on. Mo didn’t have a prayer of getting away with this. Which is why she likely is telling the truth…to a point. Dowd probably didn’t read Josh’s blog but her assistant may have?(She is usually meticulous in giving proper credit) The phoned-in quote thing doesn’t make sense (too similar grammatically) so in my mind, this is her biggest blunder of the weekend. The story sounds bogus.

  2. bob gardner

    “Now, passing along a few jokes that are flying around cyberspace without noting where they came from is not a particularly serious matter.” D Kennedy, 2000.

  3. matteomht

    Could we please focus on the broader issue, that Maureen Dowd’s columns are insipid and she’s been mailing it in for years?

  4. bostonmediawatch

    It’s pretty funny when people go nuts over the fact that a TALKING POINT (and not even a very original one) generated on a site called “TALKING POINTS MEMO” got repeated elsewhere.Isn’t that the purpose of a talking point?

  5. mike_b1

    bostonmediawatch: As a kid, weren’t you ever told do your own work? And that to turn in someone else’s work as your own would be cheating?That’s what happened here. Except she’s paid lots of money to do her own work.Which, apparently, she didn’t.If I’m Maureen Dowd, I cut Josh Marshall a check right now.

  6. GFS3

    I’d be surprised if this goes anywhere. Dowd is a stylist – its really all she’s got. So I don’t expect she has done this before.While her explanation doesn’t pass the smell test – I think this will blow over. Here’s my full take on it: the last thing the newspaper industry needs at this point is another scandal. George Snell

  7. R. Scott Buchanan

    bostonmediawatch: The name of the blog may be Talking Points Memo, but they’re not providing canned talking points for verbatim reproduction. Their copyright notice makes that abundantly clear.George: I agree that Dowd is a stylist, but it’s a pretty big stretch from that to “I don’t expect she has done this before.” We really don’t have enough facts to know one way or the other yet, so in the interval, needed or not, some young up-and-coming reporter will try to make his or her bones by dredging through years of columns hoping for a hit.

  8. GuyfromNH

    Maureen Dowd is the weakest line-up in the Times Op-Ed piece… for she writes the same column every time, just flipping around different points:– Cheney is Evil– W is dumb– Use above two points in connection with random pop culture references. Repeat as necessary.– Throw in a few made-up nicknames, references to mean girls and high school and voila, you have a Dowd column…

  9. Steve

    There is now an acknowledgement of the original problem appended to the article:”This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:Correction: May 18, 2009Maureen Dowd’s column on Sunday, about torture, failed to attribute a paragraph about the timeline for prisoner abuse to Josh Marshall’s blog at Talking Points Memo.

  10. Treg

    Finally got around to registering just so I can comment on this. Two things:- Even if Dowd’s explanation is true, she still committed plagiarism by using someone else’s words and ideas without attribution.- Her explanation isn’t true. In the real world, if such a conversation as she describes had taken place, her friend would have paraphrased Marshall, and Dowd in turn would have rephrased what her friend said (still plagiarism, by the way). Instead, we have text lifted verbatim.

  11. O-FISH-L

    Apparently, there is life after plagiarism . Maybe Dowd can go on Chronicle, Imus in the Morning, or MSNBC and spew hatred toward Dick Cheney.

  12. O-FISH-L

    …or she could run for Vice President on the Democrat ticket.

  13. Treg

    Fish – Just because Dowd is a hack doesn’t mean she’s wrong about Bush and Cheney. And it’s not “hatred” to accurately describe their actions.

  14. mike_b1

    Or she could be…Mike Barnicle.

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