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March 24, 2006

Comments

The Flat Hat editor defends her/himself.

But I can't manage to wrap my mind around the thought that the mere existence of the former should prevent people from taking an honest position on the question: is plagiarism wrong?

There were a number of commentors at RedState who went through exactly the thought process hilzoy recommends, and amazingly, reached the conclusion that plagiarism is, in fact, not wrong, or at least not in this case.

Numerous posters, most prominently Leon, expressed their belief that it was no big deal since it was "only" about movie reviews, and had "only" occurred in college in any event. Note that we are not talking about some transgression Bob Woodward committed in college, but rather the issue of what a 24-year old did a few years ago.

Trevino expressed the view that even if the allegations were true, and even if Domenech has no credibility as a result, it was no big deal because one does not need credibility to hold a job as an opinion writer.

Any number of posters also raced to make the point that plagiarism can easily occur by accident, as when one conjures up a pleasing turn of phrase without recalling that it was originally someone else's work. While a valid point, it seems wildly inappropriate as a defense of someone who copied article after article after article.

I find this completely unsurprising, given that it comes from people who fervently believe that if you write an editorial critical of the President, your wife deserves to be outed as a covert CIA operative; nevertheless, it is disappointing as a commentary on human nature.

Holy smokes, the impenitence!

The cognitive dissonance among Mr. Domenech's supporters is also striking. He was supposedly some sort of Wünderkind with the maturity to work at Human Events at age 15. Yet at the same time his trangressions are written off as youthful indiscretion.

Just to be contrarian, what about the Biden case mentioned in the other thread?

rilkefan: I don't think it's as bad a case of plagiarism (though I can't recall e.g. how many instances there were, so I'm working from memory), but that's irrelevant: any plagiarism is bad enough. This knocked him out of contention for the nomination in '88 (iirc), and I thought that was exactly right, at the time.

If I had the slightest inclination to support him, I might ask myself whether the fact that it's now some 18 years in the past, and as far as I know hasn't been repeated, is relevant; whether the fact that people can change should imply some sort of statute of limitations on consideration of this stuff in politics. As it is, however, I don't see the need to get into that question, since I wouldn't support him in any case.

Leon H to Charles, in a comment on RedState (he's talking about what Charles seems like): "What it is actually like is someone who feels such a pressing need to have moral midgets like Markos Moulitsas say nice things about him rushing out to play first to be "responsible" and undercut a loyal ally and a friend."

Charles: as someone who only two or three days ago was described thus:

"Q: Why did hilzoy cross the road?

A: To piss on the chicken. BECAUSE ATRIOS COMMANDED IT!"

-- I can only say: welcome to the club. I'll show you the secret handshake privately.

He lifted five paragraphs as a law student, apparently, but yeah, not as bad a case I guess, and I'm not in the mood to consider scenarios where Biden gets the nomination in '08. So what's the limit in this case? Does Domenech get his career back (assuming an actual mea culpa) in five years? What do we think he should do at this point?

it is disappointing as a commentary on human nature

See, that's the difference between right and left, Steve.

You think their response to Domenesch is a sign of human nature; they think our response is a sign that we aren't human.

Redstate is starting to become completely frightening. It's like Ben Domenech was going to get made or something, but instead a la Goodfellas the MSM shot him in the back of the head and now Redstate is left at the other end of the line, weeping into Ray Liotta's arms.

Re: Right Wing response - I'm somewhat surprised to see Michelle Malkin refer moonbats and in the same sentence link to our talented hilzoy's earlier post:

But now the determined moonbat hordes have exposed">http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2006/03/plagiarism.html">exposed multiple instances of what clearly appear to me to be blatant lifting of entire, unique passages by Ben from other writers.
It is only Obsidian Wing's policies that restrain my comment to soley observing that Malkin is a talentless hack who may not even be writing her own columns, and who's crackpot politics only enjoy any polarity at all because there will always be a certain segment of the media-reading public who would pay to see someone bite the head off a live rat.

Above: polarity == popularity.

Although the typo may fit as well.

I don't know what "we" do, other than think: sheesh, plagiarism is wrong. I think that limits depend on really putting it behind you in some serious way, but (just making this up here) shouldn't take less than, oh, five years -- just because it takes a while for anyone to have any grounds for thinking that the plagiarist has conclusively put it behind them and become a seriously different sort of person.

I mean: things like this generally have some cause or other. If I had to guess, I'd go with a sense of entitlement, combined with an assumption that he was automatically on the right side, and so moral scrutiny was less necessary. But that's just a complete wild guess, offered only to allow me to say: before any newspaper should hire him again, they should want to be sure not just that he has taken a vow never to plagiarize again, but also that whatever flaw of judgment or character accounted for the first instance no longer exists. Since if that flaw does exist, then even if he doesn't plagiarize again, he might still cut a lot of moral corners -- as, for instance, he would if the hypothetical explanation offered above were accurate.

My last comment directed to rilkefan.

Domenech's defense posted at RedState centers around the claim that his student editors at William & Mary supposedly pasted the offending passages into his movie reviews, over and over again, without his consent or knowledge.

Maybe I am still naive at this stage in my life, but I am still shocked that honest-to-goodness intelligent human beings - albeit human beings who believe that tax cuts increase revenues, et al. - actually believe this story, and are lining up to thank Ben for his "classy" response.

They will literally swallow ANYTHING as long as one of their ideological comrades says it. I'm flabbergasted.

Bill Clinton's deposition testimony reflects permissions obtained and judgments made off the record that were not reflected on the record by an out dated transcript . . .

Steve, not only do they believe it, they are getting prepared to consider anyone who doesn't an insane member of the dread rage-filled Left.

rilkefan - I saw the example you posted on the other thread. It was a more extensive reworking of the original, and expressed a rather common observation. (ie, I was the first one in my family to go to college, and so was my wife.)

It was similar, yes, but if I were investigating it I would have been hard pressed to think of it as plagiarism. Is it plagiarism to borrow a rhetorical device, even if you substantially alter the phrasing of it?

Did Biden admit that he plaigarized it?

I'm not trying to defend Biden, I don't really care for him at all, and I certainly don't think what Domenench did is not plagiarism, but I'm trying to be clear on the distinction.

Do these plagiarism-deniers have children of their own? Oh my, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO TELL THE CHILDREN????

Does Domenech get his career back

What was that career, exactly? Was he ever more than a right-wing agent provocateur? I doubt this disqualifies him for that role.

"Did Biden admit that he plaigarized it?"

Yeah, as I said or meant to in the other thread, he does, and he's classy about it.


My point, not that it's sharp, is that I don't listen to Biden and think, "Plagiarist" (more like, "Blowhard" or occasionally, "that's kind of insightful, or maybe I'm not caught up on the CW"). If he were on the other side, I don't know how easy it would be to get past that.

And I sort of feel bad for Domenech, and wonder how he can get his life on track after this public flameout (which he still isn't, I think, confronting honestly). And for that matter I feel kind of bad for the RSers enabling his denial (assuming) out of loyalty or partisanship.

"I feel for some of the editors at RedState. I have tried to imagine what it would be like if one of the other posters here were in roughly Domenech's situation, and it isn't pleasant. And I admire their loyalty, and the impulse to stick up for one of their own."

I think quite a bit of this happened. I repeatedly said that we didn't want to be play the role of obstructionist 60 Minutes in this blogosphere event. The actual result speaks for itself.

I think quite a bit of the defensive nature of the response has to do with the early attacks. He was subject to about 5 or 6 attacks, some quite ugly before the plagiarism charge took off. A defensive rhythmn was set up on the more personal attacks that got carried over. Please understand this is an explanation not an excuse.

Note that we are not talking about some transgression Bob Woodward committed in college, but rather the issue of what a 24-year old did a few years ago.

Steve, this particular passage caught my attention, because I would hope that if Bob Woodward were to have been found to have committed the same offenses as Domenech 40 years ago, the consequences would be no less severe... Woodward, or any other respected journalist, should not be immunized from the results of their actions simply because they were caught later.

To take the hypothetical to its conclusion, if Woodward were 24 again and had been caught plagiarizing, his career would be ended just as surely as Domenech's - how can we know whether either would later go on to transcend their errors and become distinguished journalists? As such, the consequences of plagiarism should be severe for anyone, at any stage, regardless of their reputation or performance.

I just read Ben Domenech's explanation. I don't find it convincing. And I'm speaking here as someone who deals with plagiarism in the course of her job, and who regularly reports students to the relevant Deans for less substantive cases than this one.

It would appear that either he or one of the moderators at RedState has deleted it (unless there's some other explanation for getting a 500 Internal server error when I click on the link).

In my view, Domenech's denial on RedState is a more damning offense than the original plagiarism, because it is transparently a bigger lie.

Plagiarism is bad, but I could still take a writer seriously even knowing that he had been guilty of copying others' work in the past. But unless the facts are very, very different from how they now appear, by all lights, to be, Domenech's semi-detailed denial is a flat-out, bald-faced lie. And no one should take him seriously after that.

Wrong is wrong. I agree that the evidence appears to be pretty clear. Even if he manages to prove his innocence, the perception has been set and his credibility lost. He did the right thing to resign. I was also happy to see the right side of the blogosphere call him on it.

On the other hand, the sheer vileness of this lefty blogswarm has been a thing to behold. (Not lumping you in here hilzoy – you were perfectly moderate and reasonable. In fact, I find you to be one of the only lefty writers I can consistently read. You have opinions and back them up quite reasonably without resorting to the rhetoric so many others do.)

But I also feel it would not have mattered who the person was. The left blogosphere was on a mission. In one of the first FDL posts on this (Pachacutec Wed, 2:02PM):

“You are now and henceforth to be on the serious receiving end of a shitstorm of scrutiny that you are not prepared by life to handle.”

The accusations at that point were just about racism. So in a post accusing him of racism here is what Pachacutec has to say:

“And to save your pasty, invariably white asses…”

“And it’s da white man boss at the WaPo. “

“Go with Rich Tafel. You’re less his type. He prefers Latinos. “

“I didn’t know you’re part Latino, as I am. Didja inherit the swivel hips like I did? “

Now I will plagiarize myself from a Balloon Juice comment this morning:
--------
The racism charges were just the first volley, until they could dig in and find something more substantial.

BTW, what this is really about IMO, is a perceived loss of control. Remember the wailing from the left when the LAT’s Martinez fired liberal columnist Robert Scheer, even though conservative Michael Ramirez was fired at the same time.

Out of power in Washington, with the USSC losing its leftward tilt, the MSM and academia are pretty much the last bastions of the far left. Hilariously, they claim that MSM is actually conservative and a mouthpiece of the administration. But anyone who was awake through the last 2 elections knows better.

With that said, I agree that the plagiarism charges appear to be legitimate. Where the WaPo screwed the pooch was in failing to vet him adequately. It didn’t take a genius to predict the reaction that would be forthcoming from the left side of the blogosphere. And with Jane’s ax to grind against Jim Brady, you could even predict who would be leading the charge.
--------

So now I ask you all – who among us could withstand a full fledged blogswarm? It’s not just the blog owners, it is their thousands (hundreds of thousands in some cases) of readers. They are going to find your high school yearbook. They are going to scrutinize anything you ever published, no matter how obscure. They will find people who you know/knew to offer opinions.

Frankly – the kind of people who can stand up to this level of scrutiny, now and in the future, are probably not people I would like to know. Anyone who has NO skeleton in their closet has got to be one boring person. This has been happening in politics for years. No sense running if you are not 100% squeaky clean – someone will dig it out. The stupid thing you did to make your friends laugh at 20 will ruin your political career at 40.

So now we see that this phenomenal (and frankly scary) power can be turned on the average individual. This was not a guy running for congress or appointed to the Supreme Court. This was a schmo, with some right wing opinions, hired to blog for a paper. The paper (rightly) felt they needed some balance. The left blogosphere did not. They did turn up some dirt – but they went looking for it, HARD, strictly on ideological grounds.

I think we should all take a few steps back and really think about where this could lead.

It's not deleted, Redstate's server is just getting hammered from the publicity.

I find the Biden comparisons uncompelling. It's not that what Biden did wasn't bad, it's the difference between something done once (I don't view the speech as an example of plagiarism; oratory has a long history of rhetorical borrowing and it's simply not the same thing) and something done repeatedly, many times, over a period of years until it forms a clear and unmistakable pattern of conduct.

Sorry. Not buying that one.

I find the argument that any of us are subject to being destroyed by BS allegations to be uncompelling when faced with an example of someone who was destroyed by decidedly non-BS allegations.

Consider that there are approximately a gazillion conservatives who are more important than Ben Domenech in the greater scheme of things, and who outrage the Left far more than Ben Domenech. If the lefty blogosphere really had the power to destroy any one of these people at the drop of a hat, don't you think they would have done so?

I think if you are going to stick your neck out there and say "I speak for the majority of Americans, the minority is wrong about everything, and they need to shut up and realize it," or words to that effect, yeah, you had better be prepared to accept that the people you malign are going to try and pay you back for it.

OCSteve: that's one reason I posted the Clinton comparison. I think it's always, always a good idea to look at things with the roles reversed, and this way it's easy.

There are people on both sides who are willing to bring people down by any means necessary. This does not surprise me, human nature being variable and all that. I could argue that those people are a lot better organized and financed on the right, but right now, I just won't bother with that.

(I should also say that I thought some of Augustine's comments were loathsome -- the 'judiciary worse than the KKK' one, for instance. And I did not regard any posts that just asked: how could the Post hire someone who said this? -- as out of line at all. Especially since it would have been relatively easy to post a correction, which afaik he didn't.)

However: just tearing people down to tear them down is wrong, and it's wrong whoever does it. And if there's any good at all that might come of this, it might happen because we on the left realize that we can understand some of these reactions, and people on the right realize that this is exactly how they looked to us about eight years ago, only more so since it went on for years, and at least some of us said: enough.

the sheer vileness of this lefty blogswarm has been a thing to behold.

Sheer vileness?! Wow, that's rich, given what I've seen over at Red State all this week (Thomas's comment being a prime example). Assuming you haven't already, I encourage you to go over there and take a look at just what else was posted by Red Staters this week concerning this incident. If anyone needs to be taken to task for uncivilized discourse this week, its Domenech's defenders on the right, not his detractors on the left.


I find the Biden comparisons uncompelling.

What puzzles me is that Biden seems to have paid a wholly appropriate price for doing something dishonest. He saw a viable Presidential campaign destroyed over it. If he runs again, decades later, he will still pay a significant political price for it. I just don't see the argument that Biden got off scot-free and poor Ben Domenech has paid the ultimate price. They both did something dishonest, they both were punished for it, they both have the opportunity to redeem themselves but will find the problem never quite goes away. That's the way of the world.

Just a suggestion, but if someone wants to avoid charges of racism don't call a King a communist under a pseudonym, deny it, and then apologize for it. I'm white myself, but the blacks I asked about it pretty much agreed that says "I'm a bigot". I tend to take their word for it.

Sheer vileness?! Wow, that's rich, given what I've seen over at Red State all this week (Thomas's comment being a prime example). Assuming you haven't already, I encourage you to go over there and take a look at just what else was posted by Red Staters this week concerning this incident. If anyone needs to be taken to task for uncivilized discourse this week, its Domenech's defenders on the right, not his detractors on the left.

And I encourage you to read all relevant posts and comments at FDL, Atrios, and Kos. RS is one site with an audience of ???. Most right wing sites: This racism charge doesn’t seem to be justified; Hmmm, this plagiarism thing looks bad, wait and see; OK it looks real bad, he should step down.

Left wing? As I suggested, read the posts and comments on those sites.

It seems to me that Hilzoy's comparison of Clinton is right-on in that the over-the-top criticisms of Ben from the get-go clearly steeled his supporters, such that, once this plagarism thing broke, they just reflexively defended that, as well.

And I agree that, on some (well, a lot of) level(s), there was some serious character assassination. That said, was it objectively wrong to go back through this guy's writings to find stuff that we as liberals truly find horrible and offensive (ie, judges=kkk, correta king=communist)?

Kevin Drum wrote today how, really, we should welcome people like Ben into more mainstream outlets, just so people can see the ridiculous crap they write (sunlight as disinfectant, sort of). I tend to agree, but digging for dirt (not personal dirt, but written-opinion-type dirt) is clearly fair game. And then, the plagarist stuff hit, and I swear it was almost too good to be true: Like, this guy's an idiot we think is horrible, and on top of that he's a plagarist?!

And, look, Ben's political views clearly are way-out-there, and he doesn't seem particularly keen of mind. I'd like to see him last 2 minutes with Scott Lemieux or Ampersand trying to argue that life begins at conception or some such, you know?

Anyway...the point is that is clearly fair game to go back and point out stupid shit someone's written in the past (although no need to get so personal in the attacks like Jane did).

Hilzoy,

I quite like this post of yours, and your analogy regarding the Clinton era is apt. Plagiarism, like perjury, is just wrong. Full stop.

That said, it isn't hard to assume that this really isn't at all about plagiarism, rather that plagiarism was the 'mud' that happen to stick. Let's be honest, if Mr. Domenech were a writer for The Nation would Kossites or Atrios "discover" the plagiarism?

This was about silencing a dissenting voice; that Mr. Domenech may have given them an effective tool is solely his fault, but the silencing in my view is just as serious. Perhaps more so.

OCSteve: On the other hand, the sheer vileness of this lefty blogswarm has been a thing to behold.

Not nearly as vile as the righty blogswarm which attacked Eason Jordan, for example.

The left blogosphere did not. They did turn up some dirt – but they went looking for it, HARD, strictly on ideological grounds.

I think we should all take a few steps back and really think about where this could lead.

Why does it bother you when the left blogosphere do it when it doesn't appear to have bothered you when the right blogosphere do it?

"What puzzles me is that Biden seems to have paid a wholly appropriate price for doing something dishonest. He saw a viable Presidential campaign destroyed over it."

Well, sure, but he stayed in public life - being a senator's not a bad gig, I suspect. If his pattern of plagiarism or whatever (that is, the law article and the "heavy lifting", assuming that's it) had come out during the senate campaign, would an appropriate price have been Dems not voting for him?

Anyway, I was more trying to understand what a fair attitude is to an offense, and if I'm treating people on both sides of the aisle the same way, and how to react the next time I see Domenech's name, which will hopefully be years hence.


Re the "CSK is a communist" thing, I think Domenech can likely plead ignorance - I at least didn't know it had racist overtones along with the rest. (For that matter I don't really understand how Christians can be capitalists anyway).

I find the argument that any of us are subject to being destroyed by BS allegations to be uncompelling when faced with an example of someone who was destroyed by decidedly non-BS allegations.

I didn’t say BS allegations (the initial salvo was IMO). I suggested that everyone has something in their past they would like to stay in their past. The left went on this witch for purely ideological reasons – and they struck pay dirt. Who among us can withstand that level of scrutiny?

Kevin Drum wrote today how, really, we should welcome people like Ben into more mainstream outlets, just so people can see the ridiculous crap they write (sunlight as disinfectant, sort of).

Right. And the result is that Rush Limbaugh is heard on Armed Forces Radio (and hosts the VP of the United States on his show regularly!) and Ann Coulter is on the cover of Time Magazine.

Yes, letting people behold the lunacy of those on the far right sure will destroy the conservative movement in this country.

OCSteve,

" Who among us can withstand that level of scrutiny?"

We can start with who amongst us has not committed wholesale violations of intellectual property rights, journalistic ethics and student honor codes. But that's just me.

Snark aside, I see your point, but just as Tookie Williams was a singularly poor choice for the anti-death penalty crowd to rally behind, I think Mr. Domenech's manifest culpability serves to obscure what is, in the abstract, a sensible point.

Who among us can withstand that level of scrutiny?

Like I said, if you believe that literally everyone is now subject to being brought down by a lefty blogswarm, you have to explain why millions of conservatives far more offensive to the liberal movement than Ben Domenech will still have their jobs next week.

I can't understand the "he was in college" responses either. I'm of the same age, and if I were found to have plagiarized while in college, I would probably have my degree revoked and be kicked out of law school--as I should be. We all have youthful indiscretions; I was certainly still having them at 18-20 (and later). But some are worse than others and every college makes clear to its students that plagiarizing is one that won't be tolerated. Wormdc is correct on this--if I learned now that Woodward had plagiarized in college, I would have a similar loss of respect for him. We cannot expect people to be perfect, but plagiarizing is not something to tolerate or excuse.

Mac: Thanks. However: "it isn't hard to assume that this really isn't at all about plagiarism..."

The thing is, I don't think that there is any one 'this' that's all about one thing rather than another. For me, it was first about the Post making what I thought was a silly hiring decision, which I put down to feeling beleaguered by the right, and flailing around trying to do something about it. I didn't write about it because on some level I thought: they want to be dumb? Their choice. But when the plagiarism story broke, it was all about plagiarism.

Since, as I said, human nature is variable, I assume that there are maybe a zillion people, each with his or her own 'this', which is 'about' something different. If it were a coordinated campaign, which as far as I know it is not, then there might be an overarching 'this'. As it is, though, it seems to me to be just a lot of people doing what the blogosphere does best: leveraging the power of a lot of people with time and access to Google.

(About coordination: maybe they wouldn't bother to tell me. On the other hand, I wrote Atrios about the Jeff Goldstein 'BECAUSE ATRIOS COMMANDED IT!' thing (subject heading: "where now, my liege?"), and so have been (for the first time) in correspondence with him for the past few days. So I might have heard something, if there were something to be heard.

I mean: this stuff is rarely coordinated; it's just that this time I have not just my normal assumptions to back up the claim that it wasn't, but negative evidence.)

Not nearly as vile as the righty blogswarm which attacked Eason Jordan, for example.

I won’t thread-jack and go OT with this. But leave it at if you are a senior MSM executive and you malign the military and can’t back it up – yeah, fair game.

Proves my point actually – when you are a major public figure you have to:
A) Be pretty clean to get there.
B) Be pretty darn careful of what you say and do once you get there.

Macallan, you're a great guy & all, but this won't wash:

Let's be honest, if Mr. Domenech were a writer for The Nation would Kossites or Atrios "discover" the plagiarism?

No. RedStaters and PowerLiners would have. Lo! the power of the dialectic as an instrument for truth!

The bottom line is that Mr. D. is a serial plagiarist and, as of his latest post, a moral coward. (I hope he comes clean soon & we can erase the latter label.)

But the big loser here isn't D., it's RedState. It is dominated by the seriously unhinged. No one can seriously deny that now. (Charles Bird and Moe Lane, with a few others, have honorably criticized their peers, but they are drops in a bucket.)

" Who among us can withstand that level of scrutiny?"

Actually. Murtha seems to have done fairly well from the November witch hunt.

Hilzoy,

I don't think this coordinated at all. That wasn't my point. The motivation was the point.

Re skeletons in the closet, the critical difference is that Ben had taken a post with a newspaper. As has been pointed out many times, plagiarism is the cardinal sin of journalism, so it doesn't seem at all unfair to me that he lose his spot because of this. If the attackers on the left had unearthed some sort of unsavory behavior that had nothing to do with journalism, I would find OCSteve's defense more compelling.

Ditto Biden -- having original thoughts and carefully sourcing borrowed material are not high on the list of important qualifications for a politician.

OCSteve, if having smoked pot or driving home impaired after a kegger or cheating on an SO count, then I imagine most people I know aren't suitable for office; but it's my assumption that the liberals and conservatives I choose to associate with (and most of the rest) do not in fact have truly objectionable skeletons. Stuff that would be embarrassing, sure, but in a reasonable social climate nothing people wouldn't feel ashamed to gossip about. Color me naive.

Um, OCSteve, these weren't skeletons in the closet. The guy was hired to write a blog. His first post was a generic us v. them routine about liberals, real americans, etc. I personally can't imagine wasting my time digging up anything Ben Domenech ever wrote. The Red Dawn nonsense was enough, but I did waste some time reading what others found and it was pretty damning.

Maybe he isn't a racist. I have no idea. It doesn't even matter, actually. If you're being paid by a major newspaper to write opinions, and what you write sucks in thuggish way Ben's writing sucked, then you deserve whatever attention you get. Complaining that it's unfair treatment to call up ridiculous smears of judges as worse than the KKK etc. is mind-boggling. Why write using words if you don't want them to be read and thought about? And if you get yourself ahead by writing to divide and attack, then you should at least have enough decency to expect to be attacked in return.

Steve,
That said, besides AFR, the mainstream doesn't listed to Rush, they just think they do (was it Kurtz who claimed he "really sticks to issues"?) and Time made Ann Coulter seem like a laugh riot instead of a crazy lady. that said, you have a point...

Mac: yeah, but my point was that the motivations differ from one person to another.

Then I added: if it were coordinated, there would be a point to asking for "the" motivation behind it...

But leave it at if you are a senior MSM executive and you malign the military and can’t back it up – yeah, fair game.

And, contrariwise, if you aim to be a journalist and you regularly commit plagiarism and when you are caught out you make frantic excuses for yourself - yeah, fair game.

No. RedStaters and PowerLiners would have. Lo! the power of the dialectic as an instrument for truth!

There's obvious truth in that Anderson, but I can't think of another example where one side has tried to silence the other side pre-emptively. Can you? The Dan Rather situation was in response to something specific. As are many, many, other examples from both left and right. That is the power of the blogsphere. This was done to keep Domenech off the WaPo, not in response to something he wrote.

We can start with who amongst us has not committed wholesale violations of intellectual property rights, journalistic ethics and student honor codes. But that's just me.
Snark aside, I see your point, but just as Tookie Williams was a singularly poor choice for the anti-death penalty crowd to rally behind, I think Mr. Domenech's manifest culpability serves to obscure what is, in the abstract, a sensible point.

Agreed. I guess my point (that I am apparently not making well) is that this type of thing, in general, but in politics in particular, discourages people who may have done something regrettably stupid years ago from entering the public forum. They could be a great politician – R or D, but we’ll never know because they see that something they did years ago can bring them down at a crucial moment.

Like I said, if you believe that literally everyone is now subject to being brought down by a lefty blogswarm, you have to explain why millions of conservatives far more offensive to the liberal movement than Ben Domenech will still have their jobs next week.

They have already passed through those gates I guess. If they are prominent, their past has already been scrutinized and all ammo fired. He was relatively harmless on RS – taking him down would do no more than dinging his credibility in the blogosphere. But once he stepped up to MSM – well that’s a much bigger target no?

Mac, liberal analysis considers the conservative criticism of the MSM over the last generation to be pre-emptive silencing, an example directly relevant here.

Cool to see you around again, btw.

I can't think of another example where one side has tried to silence the other side pre-emptively

This is not that either. There was no wringing of hands and cries of "what might Ben Domenech write in the future", but rather "how can you hire this guy? Look what he hath wrought in the past."

I mean if the WaPo wants to have a guy who thinks calling CSK a commie and comparing judges to the KKK (to pick some notable examples) on their staff, that's their perogative. Somehow, I'm not sure Brady had fully examined the goods he had purchased.

There's obvious truth in that Anderson, but I can't think of another example where one side has tried to silence the other side pre-emptively. Can you? The Dan Rather situation was in response to something specific. As are many, many, other examples from both left and right. That is the power of the blogsphere. This was done to keep Domenech off the WaPo, not in response to something he wrote.
Darn! If only he had a large, popular conservative group blog to fall back on, then it'd all be okay.

Darn that hive mind of the left, and their unamerican habit of voicing their opinions! They have denied this man his right -- as an American citizen -- to blog for the Washington Post.

Don't you people understand? Can you not see the depths of this tragedy? Having resigned from the Post, this poor boy can never blog again.

This was about silencing a dissenting voice; that Mr. Domenech may have given them an effective tool is solely his fault, but the silencing in my view is just as serious. Perhaps more so.

No, this was about sticking it to the Post for so transparently caving to the complaints of the right wing. I don't know how much you follow lefty blogs, but many have been pissed at the Post since at least the Deborah Howell/Froomkin set-to (particularly Hamsher at FDL). This was just a continuation of that. I'm not saying that some of the attacks on Domenech weren't out of line, but the initial outrage that sparked this had nothing to do with "silencing" anyone.

If the attackers on the left had unearthed some sort of unsavory behavior that had nothing to do with journalism, I would find OCSteve's defense more compelling.

Not a defense – I have said multiple times here and elsewhere it was wrong and he was right to step down.

It’s the blogswarm phenomenon I am mostly thinking about in this affair. Good or bad – it has undeniable power at this point. It would be a great Social Science paper I think. Left – Right – whatever. I find it fascinating and frightening.

Mac: yeah, but my point was that the motivations differ from one person to another.

Agreed, and obviously it isn't universal that the whole of leftydom wanted to shut up Domenech. But there was enough of a freak out over the mere hiring that made it puzzling beyond reason. There are plenty of MSM hires that I think are a mistake or just plain wrong, but I don't nuts over them.

"He did the right thing to resign."

OCSteve: You believe it was voluntary? In the face of what he said?

What I find most sad is that Moe Lane now finds it congenial to blog on RedState, but no longer here. I wish he'd reconsider.

Ben stepping forward and blaming everything on his former college newspaper is IMHO substantially worse than everything else he's been accused of, including the plagarism itself. He could have really dug himself at least partway out of his hole by showing some contrition and falling back on "I'm 24 years old and have a lot to learn" defense. But his performance on Redstate was just disgusting, and their continued defense of him is going to haunt them for the forseeable future.

No, this was about sticking it to the Post for so transparently caving to the complaints of the right wing.

Thanks for proving me so wrong...

Oh wait.

Mac: This was done to keep Domenech off the WaPo, not in response to something he wrote.

Au contraire. Had Mr. D. not been known as Augustine, a rude and not particularly intelligent RedState blogger, the reaction wouldn't have been so extreme.

Doubtless some of my fellow moonbats would've gone off on ANY conservative hired by the Post (some for the reasons stated above, Howell/Froomkin etc.), but there are LOTS of reasonable, polite, sharp Republican bloggers out there.

I think Mr. D. got the job b/c of his daddy's connections, to be blunt. Why else pluck him from the roiling Internet? God knows it wasn't for the quality of his thought, or his writing. (N.b. that my own qualities in those regards haven't drawn any job offers lately, either.)

Macallan: I think Larv is right in thinking that the anger is a lot more about the Post and its total wimpiness and faux-bipartisanship than about Ben Domenech in particular. I think a lot of people saw his hiring as yet another instance of that -- person with no visible journalistic credentials and no experience other than being a Republican operative hired for plum job without any apparent vetting at all, etc.

That said, I think that pointing out that some of his previous posts are dreadful is fair game. Going on a vendetta, on the other hand, should always make people question their own motives. Not that the question can't sometimes be answered -- I mean, Simon Wiesenthal was on a perfectly justified vendetta -- but it should always make you stop and think.

OC,

Agreed. I guess my point (that I am apparently not making well) is that this type of thing, in general, but in politics in particular, discourages people who may have done something regrettably stupid years ago from entering the public forum. They could be a great politician – R or D, but we’ll never know because they see that something they did years ago can bring them down at a crucial moment.

That's a fantastic point. Unfortunately, the culpability lies not so much on the shoulders of the muckrackers, but on the polity who choose to be hypocrites en masse. I mean, it's a tough one, because there are some flaws which should DQ someone. However, I think the pendulum has swung too far in what might be called the puritanical direction.

Selections from RS comments on Mr. D.'s apologia:

In combat great people (we call them heros) sometimes get injured and have to be withdrawn.

The battle for the hearts and minds will continue, even if the viatrol that is spewed by the koskoolaid kids, and truth will win out over rhetoric.

IN the end I think it is the effectiveness of your voice that made them hate you. [Guffaw!]

Mr. Domenech[,] Your post is a testament to the class and decency you obviously possess.

Speaking of Moe, I had an email exchange with him on that very topic a few months ago. Not so much come back and join us, but thinking about heading out myself. I got past that, at least for now, but...well, if you want to know, email him. He might just answer you back.

How did shinypenny manage to post tomorrow? I see you're posting from "longdaysjourney", but still...


Mac, I guarantee you that if SH or you had gotten that job, I and many other lefties would have cheered, and there wouldn't have been an uproar. Partisanship vs journalism made this simple.

"But I also feel it would not have mattered who the person was. The left blogosphere was on a mission. In one of the first FDL posts...."

I really don't care what Jane Hamsher, or someone who isn't me, said. I seem to recall when it was a conservative principle that we were individuals, not collectivists.

I said no one word in my entire life to anyone about Ben Domenech, by any name he ever went by, until the plagiarism yesterday. What others do is not my responsibility or my concern.

Neither do I have a practice of writing about "the Right" or "the Left." And I've always thoroughly condemned anyone who does; I've done this for thirty-five years. That sort of lumping is just foolish, or worse. Whomever it's from and whomever it's in regard to.

I speak for myself. I don't know anyone who speaks "for the right" or "for the left." And anyone who claims that either speaks with a single voice is a nitwit.

Mac, liberal analysis considers the conservative criticism of the MSM over the last generation to be pre-emptive silencing, an example directly relevant here.

OK, but then I would question liberal strategic thinking then. Having someone to balance other views inoculates the WaPo from that conservative criticism. There should have been a sigh of relieve if Domenech was "bad". A bad conservative voice at the WaPo is in liberal's interest. Why the hell do you think Pat Buchanan and Robert Novak have careers? We sure as heck didn't pick 'em.

Steve Verdon at OTB was onto Mr. D.'s character rather early:

The way Domenech spins it is that Gould actually supports things like Intelligent Design when in fact the exact opposite is true. This leaves us with three explanations regardign Domenech,

1. He is stupid.
2. He is dishonest.
3. He is both stupid and dishonest.

Given that Wright explains that Gould doesn’t support Creationism (and Intelligent Design is a form of Creationism) and that his appearant support for Creationism is due to Gould’s unusual view of evolution and evolutionary theory, it leaves us thinking that 2 and 3 are the best explanations. In any event, no matter how you slice it, this is a good thing for Liberals as Hamsher notes.

I consider the Republican campaign against PBS to have been far more insidious than anything Ben Domenech had to deal with this week, although admittedly it was not nearly as vulgar.

OCSteve: "this type of thing, in general, but in politics in particular, discourages people who may have done something regrettably stupid years ago from entering the public forum."

Something like that's entirely apt, and the left has been arguing that since '94 or earlier - I think there's a related point at the top of this very column...

Peculiar. I can't do anything about that.

"And I encourage you to read all relevant posts and comments at FDL, Atrios, and Kos."

As I've said endlessly, I don't read the comments at any site as popular as those, regardless of their political stance; they're guaranteed to have a high degree of idiocy and a low ratio of worth.

Neither are any of those blogs on my blogroll.

But obviously there are endless morons with online access, and they're guaranteed to turn up with hatefulness at any large site, regardless of ideology.

And that's yet another reason I have no interest, overall, in Scoop-type sites.

Pooh:

However, I think the pendulum has swung too far in what might be called the puritanical direction.

I am with you there. Be it left or right. By skeletons I don’t even mean anything grievous. But if the ‘other’ party can’t find something on you they can blow out of context (not saying this issue is) then you are one boring dude and I would rather have a beer with my dog.

We expect prominent people to be, well, people. But if they have anything in their past that ‘we’ (you or I) can use against them – watch out.

Crap. It’s Friday night (EST). What am I doing here? Time for some food and a beer or two. And no politics or blogs.

"Mac, I guarantee you that if SH or you had gotten that job, I and many other lefties would have cheered, and there wouldn't have been an uproar. "

You would have cheered for Saddam Hussein? You really are a lefty. ;)

"I've never seen a comment or post from Kos or any of the front-page writers over there expressing joy at the imagined deaths of their opponents on the right."

Well there was a rather famous incident by Mr. Kos himself about American contractors hanging from a bridge....

JFTR I seem to have stopped reading FDL because of Hamsher.


"We sure as heck didn't pick 'em."

Mac, you're conflating the sensible right (e.g. you) and O'Reilly's (et al.) base.

Incidentally, notable liberal bloggers like Drum and DeLong and Gary have been pointing out exactly what you say about seeing Domenech as a useful example.

How did shinypenny manage to post tomorrow? I see you're posting from "longdaysjourney", but still...

They do say that liberals inhabit their own special dimension. :)

"Well there was a rather famous incident by Mr. Kos himself about American contractors [sic] hanging from a bridge..."

A mistake, understandable given Mr. Kos's background, since apologized for, and not at all equivalent anyway.

OCSteve: It’s the blogswarm phenomenon I am mostly thinking about in this affair. Good or bad – it has undeniable power at this point.

Absolutely. Not to threadjack (if you think you can defend the behavior of the right-wing blogswarm, do so at my journal), but Eason Jordan was forced to resign over a perfectly well-founded (if inaptly-phrased) comment at a forum which should been safe under Chatham House Rules. That was an appalling and scary example of the power of a blogswarm.

Whereas, Ben Domenech not only really did do something wrong, he also handled the discovery of his wrong behavior just about the worst way he could. As Hilzoy points out (in reference to a far more serious example of criminal behavior)

When you are involved in something bad, ..... just follow these easy steps:
(1) Ask yourself, did I do anything wrong?
(2) If so, admit your mistake promptly.
Honest to goodness, Ben Domenech would look a lot better today if, at the first instant someone discovered he'd plagiarized, he'd put up a public admission and apology - an acknowledgement that what he'd done in the past was wrong, and that he was very sorry for it.

Well there was a rather famous incident by Mr. Kos himself about American contractors hanging from a bridge....

Those contractors were not Kos' political opponents, nor did he express joy at their deaths. He expressed disgust at the fact that mercenaries who had voluntarily gone into a war zone for money were getting more sympathy and press time than our volunteer soldiers who die in battle, let alone all the innocent Iraqis who died as a result of the invasion.

Now, I personally think everyone deserves sympathy, and that his comment was callous and appalling. But really, it's not the same as wishing the opposing political party would all drop dead, not even close.

Mac, you're conflating the sensible right (e.g. you)

Careful, you might lose some street cred. I'm not sure everyone considers me to be part of the sensible right. Or that a 'sensible' right even exists.

Honestly, Hilzoy, the Britney Spears article bears no similarity to the Salon article other than referencing the same study with the same conclusions. Is that plagiarism?

"I'm not sure everyone considers me to be part of the sensible right."

I'm able and willing to be wrong.

"Or that a 'sensible' right even exists."

The dark side of the force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be ... unsensible.

It’s the blogswarm phenomenon I am mostly thinking about in this affair. Good or bad – it has undeniable power at this point. It would be a great Social Science paper I think. Left – Right – whatever. I find it fascinating and frightening.

It's been quoted everywhere, and attributed to every culture on the planet, as well as Louis L'amour, but I think it's still one of my favorite quotes. "Lie to a liar, for lies are his coin; steal from a thief, for that is easy; lay a trap for the trickster and catch him at the first attempt, but beware of an honest man."

When it comes right down to it, honesty is the best defense against 'blogswarms.' Me? I've got a lot of stuff that I wouldn't like having splattered all over the internet. But my philosophy has always been 'pre-emptive disclosure and brutally honest self-analysis.' It's more effective than any after-the-fact spin.

Leon:

Salon:

"Or when, as a study of teen girls' attitudes last year reflected, young women proclaimed that they didn't actually like the No. 1 girl act of their time and demographic. When questioned, during this study, about what celebrities they'd like to hang out with, they had pricelessly characterized Spears as someone whom they probably wouldn't want in their social group, but then amended it: OK, they might, but only because she'd attract the guys. (The idea was that she was dirty and it might rub off, and it even seemed to be supported in reality: When "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" star Melissa Joan Hart began a high-profile friendship with Spears, within a month or two Hart had shed her goody-goody image and shown up barely clothed on the cover of a lad magazine)."

Domenech:

"In a study of teen girls' attitudes last year, young women characterized Spears as someone whom they probably would only want in their social group because she'd attract the guys. The idea was that she was dirty and it might rub off, a view that even seemed to be supported in reality. When Sabrina the Teenage Witch star Melissa Joan Hart began a much-publicized friendship with Spears, within a month or two Hart shed her goody-goody image and had shown up barely clothed on the cover of the men's magazine Maxim."

That's a lot more than referencing the same study.

"I think Mr. D. got the job b/c of his daddy's connections, to be blunt. Why else pluck him from the roiling Internet? God knows it wasn't for the quality of his thought, or his writing."

I try to avoid mindreading, unless my cap is working on that day, myself. In this case, it's the minds of the folks at washingtonpost.com (not the same folks as edit the paper, it's worth pointing out again). Did they hire Domenech solely because of Domenech's father? Obviously not. Partially? Maybe; I couldn't say. Was Domenech helped in his rise in the conservative world by his father's connections, and the connections he made on his own? Doubtless; that's the way the world works, and it's non-ideological. Would he have been hired without a history of writing? I think not.

Beyond that, it's, so far as I know, mindreading. We're entitled to think what we think, of course.

(Extra bonus thought: how good or bad a blogger is Domenech? Dunno; I've not read enough of him to have a strong opinion; I wasn't greatly impressed by his few posts on "Red America," but it was no worse than innumerable blogs, and better than some.)

"I got past that, at least for now, but...well, if you want to know, email him. He might just answer you back."

As it is, I've suggested in e-mail to at least two of the bloggers here that they ask him if he might return, and if he might at least be able to suggest some others of similar mind as new bloggers -- I've written a number of times here as to how I think ObWi has gone badly out of ideological balance, and desperately needs at least 2, if not 3, conservative and/or libertarian bloggers of good quality to be added on, given how relatively infrequently you, Sebastian, and Charles post these days -- and been told by one of the bloggers some weeks ago that he'd write Moe and ask (the other was busy and the conversation didn't proceed further; I may have also discussed this with a third co-blogger here in e-mail, but my memory is a bit vague; as it happens, you're the only co-blogger here I've never exchanged e-mails with). I've not had an update.

Write Moe myself? If I weren't so lazy, and didn't have 340 unanswered e-mails in my inbox, and a blog I wasn't blogging remotely enough at, and wasn't so exhausted and out of it, and all my other excuses. But maybe I will at some point, since you nudge. I do miss him, touchy as he'd be at times.

What I find most sad is that Moe Lane now finds it congenial to blog on RedState, but no longer here. I wish he'd reconsider.

I fear Moe is no longer the Moe we knew and loved. When I asked Thomas whether he stood by a previous comment to me where he said (essentially) that wishing death on other posters was a bannable offense, Moe responded with a curt, nasty comment that basically said "go away and post somewhere else".

This after I replied to an earlier comment of Moe's where he worried that if he ever got a pro blogging stint, his family would get dragged into it, and said that both I and (I guessed) much of the ObWi crew would go to the mat for him in that event.

I still have a lot of respect for him. But he's become more sharply (or at least openly) partisan since he started posting on Redstate, and not in an admirable way.

Slart: "Peculiar. I can't do anything about that."

Could you maybe do something about making clear what you're talking about?

Leon: possibly it gets clearer with excerpting. I'm not going to do the links, since they're in the comment I just posted, as well as the original post. And if I hadn't just posted the full paragraphs, I'd put them here for comparison; as it is, I won't.

Salon:

"Or when, as a study of teen girls' attitudes last year reflected, young women (...) characterized Spears as someone whom they probably [would only] want in their social group (...) because she'd attract the guys. (The idea was that she was dirty and it might rub off, and it even seemed to be supported in reality: When "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" star Melissa Joan Hart began a high-profile friendship with Spears, within a month or two Hart had shed her goody-goody image and shown up barely clothed on the cover of a lad magazine)."

Domenech:

"In a study of teen girls' attitudes last year, young women characterized Spears as someone whom they probably would only want in their social group because she'd attract the guys. The idea was that she was dirty and it might rub off, a view that even seemed to be supported in reality. When Sabrina the Teenage Witch star Melissa Joan Hart began a much-publicized friendship with Spears, within a month or two Hart shed her goody-goody image and had shown up barely clothed on the cover of the men's magazine Maxim."

I've written a number of times here as to how I think ObWi has gone badly out of ideological balance, and desperately needs at least 2, if not 3, conservative and/or libertarian bloggers of good quality to be added on, given how relatively infrequently you, Sebastian, and Charles post these days -- and been told by one of the bloggers some weeks ago that he'd write Moe and ask (the other was busy and the conversation didn't proceed further; I may have also discussed this with a third co-blogger here in e-mail, but my memory is a bit vague; as it happens, you're the only co-blogger here I've never exchanged e-mails with).

I'll put my two cents in for Dean Esmay at http://www.deanesmay.com/. I disagree with him a lot, but he's a smart sharp guy. One of the things I value a lot about OBW is that there are many discussions in which opinions are exchanged without 'right/left' pigeonholing. Hilzoy and Sebastian are both excellent, intelligent writers who I respect quite a bit. Hearing their thouhts on any issue, regardless of position or topic, generally gets me thinking hard.

hilzoy, if your post isn't appearing where you expect, it's likely because the last post is from tomorrow. Perhaps you can edit the timestamp to something causal.

No, Hilzoy, it really isn't. If there really was a study that examined the attitudes teenage girls had about Britney Spears, and it came to that conclusion, those are two ways of discussing that study. The result of the study is lengthy to describe, but that's about what you've got there.

Oh, and about Domenech's "class" in "choosing" to resign, this, from Kurtz:

Jim Brady, executive editor of Washingtonpost.com, which operates independently from the newspaper, said he would have dismissed Domenech if the former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer had not offered to quit first. He said there was "enough smoke" in the allegations of plagiarism "that we needed to sever the relationship."

rilkefan:I haven't tried, since the last time this happened I spent ages trying to figure out how to fix it, to no avail. At 1:36 am it will start to head down the queue like a normal post, at least, if induction is any guide.

Leon: first, the part about Melissa Hart, which is nearly verbatim, is not about the results of the study at all. Second, if this were an isolated case, that might be a plausible response; as it is, unless he got a lot of permissions and/or has a lot of deviant editors, it's not.

I didn't post the Crossroads piece because I noticed that there was no byline on it and thought: maybe he wrote it. I am not trying to find anything that can possibly, if I squint, maybe sorta kinda be viewed as plagiarism. I really think that this one, like many of the others, is pretty open and shut.

I should also say that IF he has plagiarized, then he has been willing to betray the trust of people who supported him, and that is a truly shoddy thing to do.

Could you maybe do something about making clear what you're talking about?

Gary, there's something peculiar about this thread; it's the topic of some small discussion. That, the fact that (at least for a few more hours) we have a comment that's dated tomorrow and hence always occupies the end of the comments. That.

Maybe scoop ain't so bad, after all. I still can't stand it, but at least you can tell what's being responded to, most of the time.

Leon, you are making me very very sad.

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