- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dowd the plagiarist

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has been caught plagiarizing material from a liberal blogger in a May 17 column about former Vice President Dick Cheney’s stance on interrogation policy.

Ms. Dowd lifted a paragraph from Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, nearly word for word, that questioned whether the Bush administration had used waterboarding to justify its decision to go to war in Iraq.

She told the Huffington Post: “I didn’t have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now. I 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, and I wanted to weave the idea into my column. But, clearly, my friend must have read Josh Marshall without mentioning that to me. We’re fixing it on the Web, to give Josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction.”

A note was quickly made on her column to credit Mr. Marshall, and a correction was issued.

“I believe her explanation, because behind every writer is an army of friends and lovers and editors and colleagues who act as our unofficial researchers. However, what she did is inexcusable,” said Kelly McBride, an ethics leader at the Poynter Institute. “Part of the responsibility as a writer is to take that fodder that you get and reform it into something that is truly yours rather than just filter it through.”

Ms. McBride acknowledged there is “no rulebook” on what an editor should do when a writer gets caught plagiarizing, but said if it were “a first-year reporter, it would result in discipline of some kind … and I know that, because part of my job at Poynter is to train entry-level reporters to go into a newsroom, and I’ve followed them. That’s generally what happens.”

But on Monday, a spokeswoman for the New York Times said no further action will be taken.

A pre-emptive strike

Conservative activists aren’t waiting to start unloading on President Obama’s first Supreme Court pick. He hasn’t selected anyone yet, but the Judicial Confirmation Network has launched a Web site, www.Obamasfrontrunners .com, to highlight the flaws in three of the top names being floated for consideration to the post.

“We know that right now, behind closed doors, President Obama’s team is vetting all the potential Supreme Court front-runners, and we think it’s important people have a chance to learn about them, too,” said JCN’s Gary Marx.

The site features three short videos that can be easily embedded into other Web sites, about Solicitor General Ellen Kagan, federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the 2nd Circuit and Judge Dianne Wood of the 7th Circuit. JCN is also running a poll asking Web visitors to vote on “who would be the worst liberal judicial activist.”

“Think of it like a viral vetting,” Mr. Marx said.

Eminem on Palin

Rapper Marshal Mathers, better known as Eminem, couldn’t help himself from sexually slamming Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin one more time.

In his new single, “We Made You,” Mr. Mathers demeans a number of high-profile celebrities, including Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson. Porn actress Lisa Ann was hired to play the role of Mrs. Palin for the “We Made You” video and is shown wearing lingerie and stroking Mr. Mathers’ chest in bed.

The rapper says supporters of the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate shouldn’t be bothered.

“These aren’t personal attacks,” he told BBC’s Jonathan Ross. “It’s like picking names out of a hat,” he said, before going on to specify in vulgar terms that he did want to have sex with Mrs. Palin.

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] tontimes.com

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