Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Domenech affair

That was quick.

The reign of wingnut wunderkind Ben Domenech as the Washington Post's in-house political blogger lasted only a few days. The official explanation for his departure is revealing:

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. Washingtonpost.com will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.

We also remain committed to representing a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies in our Opinions area.

Jim Brady
Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com

To which I say, piffle.

I do not in any way condone plagiarism. It is wrong, wrong, wrong, and wee Ben is a bad doggy. But plagiarism is an "inside baseball" violation. In my view, the most serious offense a
writer (at least a writer at a major newspaper) can commit is failing to act as a check on the government, by either (a) accepting
whatever happy horseshit gets plopped onto his or her steno pad by those in power or (b) making shit up.

The Post is quite diligent in policing the originality of its writers, but seems unconcerned with their honesty or competence. This whole embarassing episode begs the real question: why did they hire this buffoon in the first place? Credentials? Writing skill? Those theories have taken a serious hit. What's left is the real reason -- wingnuttiness.

The next step will be interesting. If the Post, like a latter-day Diogenes, will now seek an honest wingnut to replace Domenech, we are probably in for a long loop of lather, rinse and repeat.

1 Comments:

Anonymous RandyH said...

...the most serious offense a
writer... can commit is failing to act as a check on the government, by either (a) accepting whatever happy horseshit gets plopped onto his or her steno pad by those in power or (b) making shit up.


Ditto. As I was reading Mr. Brady's note at the top of the piece, this is exactly what I was thinking. But you articulated it so much better.

10:45 AM  

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