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

Times spokeswoman disagrees on Dowd

Curious that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd would be out of the paper on Sunday and Wednesday of this week after having her knuckles rapped by public editor Clark Hoyt, I sent an e-mail to Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis asking whether Dowd was on vacation or had been suspended. Mathis’ reply, in full:

Maureen is on vacation. Since she didn’t do anything wrong, there would be no reason for a suspension.

That, of course, would be contrary to Hoyt’s view, who delivered a mild rebuke to Dowd last Sunday after she lifted a paragraph from Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo without attribution. In addressing Dowd’s claim that she had taken the e-mailed passage from a friend without realizing it had originally come from Marshall, Hoyt wrote:

I do not think Dowd plagiarized, but I also do not think what she did was right.

Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, said journalists collaborate and take feeds from each other all the time. That is true with news articles, but readers have a right to expect that even if an opinion columnist like Dowd tosses around ideas with a friend, her column will be her own words. If the words are not hers, she must give credit.

No, Hoyt’s views are not those of Times management. Even so, I’m surprised Mathis would say something so definitive in defense of Dowd just days after Hoyt offered a different view. But there you go.


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  1. Treg

    Ridiculous. No matter where you come down on this, how can you possibly conclude she did nothing wrong? So, we should assume she will continue to assemble her columns in that manner? And her apology was for what? Doing something right?

  2. Rick in Duxbury

    The smug comment from Mathis is emblematic of why many of us hate the Times.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: I don’t hate the Times, but I certainly know what you mean. If Mathis had just said, “Dowd is on vacation, but she’s already apologized for her mistake,” I probably wouldn’t have bothered to write anything.

  4. Treg

    I have to say, I've really started hating the Times. So much good writing, I know . . . blah blah blah. They also helped W start The War.

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