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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Maureen Dowd's plagiarism explanation requires a bit more explaining

Dowd So, I'm reading the Huffington Post's story on New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's apology for lifting a line from Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo blog, and I'm more confused than ever.

According to HuffPo, Dowd says she hadn't read Marshall's blog, but 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."

Stick with me. This is what she wrote for Sunday's NYT: "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."

This is what Marshall wrote Thursday:"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." (Only the words in bold are different.)

So, who quotes a friend that closely during a conversation? And if she was actually using her friend's exact words, why didn't she say so in the column? ("As a friend said, 'More and more . . . ")

At best, she was taking credit for exact wording supplied by a friend, who was quoting Marshall without telling her. At worst . . . I'm not really sure. Because somebody smart enough to win a Pulitzer Prize for commentary surely knows that cribbing TPM almost verbatim in a Sunday column will be noticed, and quickly.

After I wrote much of this post, I see that Michael Calderone of Politico is asking the same questions.And blogger Glenn Greenwald uses the incident as evidence that traditional journalists and media types crib from blogs a lot more than they admit.

Whatever happened, the only thing I'm increasingly sure of, is that Dowd's initial explanation needs some more explaining.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:57pm]

    

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