Maureen Dowd's Tiny Error

Dowdy!Maureen Dowd picks up a funny little correction today, as her weekend column lifted a paragraph from a blog. And we do mean “little”!

Maureen Dowd’s column on Sunday, about torture, failed to attribute a paragraph about the timeline for prisoner abuse to Josh Marshall’s blog at Talking Points Memo.

So, “failed to attribute” is a funny phrase. It’s a phrase that doesn’t show up in other corrections in the paper. HOWEVER! It is a phrase that shows up in this July 10, 1864 account of General Sherman’s movements, which you really should read! Man! If the newspaper read like this today, I would be jumping out of bed first thing in the morning to go get it!

Anyway. The official narrative of the correction is, therefore, that she simply meant to quote that blog.

But Dowd has emailed people, saying that a friend had sent her this language, which she subsumed without Googling in quotes, something the rest of us who steal from our friends never do.


Those two explanations are in total conflict. Clearly Dowd said one thing to Greg Brock, who is presumably still the corrections editor-and this is already an unusual situation, as the op-ed columnists are a segregated pod inside/beside the segregated pod that is the op-ed section.

And she said a totally different thing via emails.

So what have we learned? A bunch of non-writers who comment on blogs will denounce Dowd because she steals from her friends. They are ridiculous, because everyone steals from their friends, or else how would you get through the day?

But what we’ve really learned is that Dowd is too un-savvy with the current age, and too unused to getting publicly hand-slapped, to safely negotiate this tiny, tiny debacle. She made it worse-even while trying to do something smart, which was saying, publicly, “Oh I goofed! My bad!”-which when you do it right, blammo, the trouble disappears.

We’re not climbing on the CRUCIFY HER bandwagon here. Guess what? You shovel out words constantly for a few decades, and mistakes happen. And Dowd has an incredibly low correction rate, even in her time as a reporter. Yes, she’s run down some incredibly wrong roads in her time on the Op-Ed page. And you probably would have too!

Dowd put in some time as a hard-charging Metro reporter and as a magazine writer and also on National, for 12 years, before coming to the opinion page. No doubt her psycho-fiery style in the 80s and early 90s offended the holy hell out of the old guard at the Times, and if I were her, I’d be continually pissed that the kids today have no idea about this, since most of them were born in the 80s.And then also because most of the kids today are merely doing what she is doing, except without navigating an unfriendly and slow-moving newspaper hierarchy.

She is friends with a few other tough women at the Times, who keep to themselves and are mistrustful of the current age of public hue and cry, in part because they have all been abused by it-for reasons that are pretty much unknown to the abusers (youthful resentment). This correction psychodrama, while also totally Dowd’s fault, will merely increase the remove of the op-ed columnists and the other now-old, formerly-new guard of opinionated writers and critics at the Times from the current real world. Lose, lose!