Accuracy in Media

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was caught picking up a TPM passage without proper attribution.

From the Politico

A TPMCafe blogger charged plagiarism earlier after picking up on a striking similarity between a passage in Maureen Dowd’s column today and a recent post by TPM editor Josh Marshall.

Dowd: “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.”

Marshall: “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.”

Since then, Dowd’s column has been updated with a reference to Marshall and notes that there hadn’t been proper attribution in the original Times piece.

While it might be assumed that Dowd accidentally cut-and-pasted the passage in her notes, and forgot the attribution, she tells Huffington Post that she never actually read Marshall’s item. So how did it wind up on today’s op-ed page?

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 tomorrow.

So Dowd unknowingly quoted Marshall without attribution, while assuming she was knowingly quoting a friend without attribution — a friend who apparently has a great memory for remembering TPM posts verbatim and feeding them to Times columnists.

It’s hard to believe that in this day and age that Dowd would try to get away with any type of plagiarism with all the scrutiny by bloggers and others, but her explanation is thin to say the least.



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