Thursday, March 23, 2006

plagiarist at the post

the washington post website has hired a new blogger: redstate founder and former bush appointee ben domenech. far from being an experienced journalist, domenesch is a conservative activist. his hiring—and especially his frothing first post—angered & puzzled lefties throughout the blogosphere, who already viewed the post as being too deferential to the bush administration and republicans in general.

so bunches of bloggers started poring through domenech's old material, looking for the most outrageous examples of wingnuttery they could find. they found lots. but as i well know, when you start really digging into a writer's text, you might be surprised at what you find.

what bloggers soon discovered is that domenech is a plagiarist. when he was a student at william & mary he published a number of pieces in the student paper, the flat hat, that he had plagiarized from other sources, including a bit from pj o'rourke and a number of movie reviews.

plagiarism is a big deal in the journalism and publishing businesses, as domenesch was well aware. as discovered by your logo here, domenech doesn't have much "toleration" for plagiarists. but he also doesn't think the "tactic of preempting damaging plagiarism revelations by admitting to it beforehand will actually work", as he said in a post in 2002 with this delightfully ironic passage:

In other words, famous people can get away with plagiarism as long as they're generous with the positive blurbs. McTaggart has already commented on the controversy, and basically said she's willing to let Goodwin get away with it, for the right price. It also seems more than a little naive to think that a massive book-burning will allow Goodwin to escape significant excoriation by historical academics, many of whom already view her as an attention-grabbing interloper. As Homer likes to say, "Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen."

an attention-grabbing interloper? interesting that domenech was so hard on his fellow plagiarist; after all, this was three years after publishing all that plagiarized content in the flat hat. perhaps he was projecting his own feelings onto goodwin?

as i posted in november, it's easy to find plagiarism online using google. just plug in a phrase, and if it's long and unique enough, google will take you right to the source. i'm certain that now that domenech's history of plagiarism has been revealed, any other instances will turn up quickly. it will be interesting to see how the post reacts to the revelations. (links courtesy atrios)

update: tons more examples keep pouring in. that's one thing about plagiarism: it's a pattern.

not only will it be interesting to see how the post reacts to this, it's also worth watching what domenech's friends and supporters do over the coming days. some of his redstate co-bloggers are fighting back, and howie kurtz as "a college editor improperly adding language to some of his articles." (never mind that domenech's plagiarism was not limited to the flat hat.)

2nd update: domenech's redstate co-bloggers might not think ill of his actions, but there are other conservative bloggers who are very troubled. and the flat hat staff says that "[w]hile Domenech deserves the benefit of the doubt until all of the facts are known, if true, his actions would be deeply offensive to us as journalists and as students."

3rd update: and just like that, it's over.

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.

When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.

Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

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