Sunday, May 17, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Maureen Dowd Denies To NYTPicker That "Friend" Was New Republic's Leon Wieseltier: "I Have A Lot Of Friends."

In two emails to the NYTPicker responding to followup questions, Dowd has specifically denied that her "friend" was Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic who has long been associated with Dowd and her columns. I have a lot of friends." Dowd writer.

Pressed to elaborate on how a phone conversation between two friends could result in a verbatim, almost word-for-word lifting of a paragraph from a blog, Dowd doesn't quite explain how it happened. Here are the two email exchanges, reprinted here in full:

from The NYTPicker:

forgive me if we're being thick...but how could it have ended up word for word the same as marshall, if it wasn't dictated in some way?

also, would it be incorrect to suggest that the friend might be leon wieseltier? he has often been cited as a friend/adviser of yours on columns.

Dowd's response:

no, it wasn't leon; i have a lot of friends

from The NYTPicker:

thanks for clarifying. still having trouble understanding how a phone conversation results in word-for-word copying of paragraph, if no dictating was involved. can you explain?

Dowd's response:

one thing i'm always happy to do is give credit for things that are published
in this case, a friend suggested i make this point. i paid attention and made the point. i just had no idea it was josh's. i've now corrected, apologized and fixed on the web. that's all i can say.


UPDATE: The NYT has posted a note at the bottom of Dowd's column. It reads as follows:

An earlier version of this column failed to attribute a paragraph about the timeline for prisoner abuse to Josh Marshall’s blog at Talking Points Memo.


Anonymous said...

Total B.S.
How ironic that MoDo went after Joe Biden's plagiarism with such a vengeance...

Anonymous said...

I really don't know how to parse these allegations of plagiarism. While it's obvious to me why a student with no time may crib 80% of a paper to sneak by, I don't understand why a journalist or a professional writer like Stephen Ambrose would do such a thing. There's nothing to gain. A column isn't like a combination to a safe. There's no absolutely correct solution.

As I can't come up with a rational reason for lifting one sentence, I'm guessing it's just an accident. Lord knows I can't get the lyrics from "American Pie" out of my head. Maybe words just get burned into our brain.

I suppose there's some irony in Dowd's previous dissection of Biden-- something that was done with the help of Biden's Democratic opponents -- but I don't think that was the point.

Slate points out:

" the even greater sin was to borrow biographical facts from Kinnock that, although true about Kinnock, didn't apply to Biden."

In other words, the real problem with Biden's plagiarism wasn't the plagiarism but the fact that it wasn't correct.

Given the fact that words get burned into my brain, given that phrases are sticky, given that I can't remember if I cried when I read about her widowed quote, I'm going to forgive her easily. Now I've got to figure out why I've got an urge to have some whiskey and rye this early in the morning. Aren't they the same thing?