- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

BALTIMORE (AP) — Two weeks before his 30th anniversary with the Baltimore Sun, columnist Michael Olesker resigned amid charges of plagiarism, the newspaper reported yesterday.

“I made mistakes,” Mr. Olesker said as he cleaned out his desk.

Mr. Olesker wrote a twice-a-week column in the Maryland section for 27 years. His most recent column appeared Tuesday.

“I am sorry to say that in the course of doing those columns, I unintentionally screwed up a handful of paragraphs. I am embarrassed by my sloppiness,” he said.

Neither Mr. Olesker, 60, nor editor Timothy Franklin returned calls made by the Associated Press yesterday.

The charges surfaced Tuesday in an e-mail from Gadi Dechter, a media reporter at the Baltimore City Paper, an alternative weekly, to Sun city editor Howard Libit.

Mr. Dechter said he and a researcher had reviewed Mr. Olesker’s columns during the past two years and found instances in which the columnist had apparently used the work of journalists at the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Sun without attribution.

Mr. Dechter’s research was prompted by a Dec. 24 correction in the Sun in which the paper said a paragraph from a Dec. 12 column by Mr. Olesker about former Sen. Max Cleland was almost identical to lines in a 2003 profile by Peter Carlson of The Post.

A review of Mr. Olesker’s work by the Sun was under way when he resigned.

“Clearly, this is a practice that’s unacceptable, and we acted quickly to meet with Mike and try to resolve it,” Mr. Franklin said in the Sun. “It’s been excruciatingly painful.”

Mr. Olesker and Sun political editor David Nitkin are central figures in a First Amendment lawsuit the paper has filed against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

In November 2004, Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, issued an order prohibiting executive branch employees from speaking with Mr. Olesker and Mr. Nitkin.

The ban was imposed after Mr. Nitkin disclosed a state proposal to sell preserved forestland in St. Mary’s County to a politically connected construction company.

Ehrlich press secretary Greg Massoni said in the e-mail detailing the ban that the two “are failing to objectively report on any issue dealing with the Ehrlich-Steele administration.”

The governor’s staff had complained about a November 2004 column in which Mr. Olesker described a meeting that he did not attend.

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