Ms. Dowd points out that in the column in question, she had given proper credit to two other writers and so by her reckoning, she could not have planned to copy from a third. Two out of three isn't bad.
I'd have preferred to hear her say she was working too quickly, or she was distracted when a bird smacked into her office window, or whatever, but that after she had knowingly used the work of another writer, she simply forgot to credit the author, but had meant to do so. I would have bought that, but it isn't what we are asked to believe, which is why this episode is extraordinary.
|Maureen Dowd, Wikipedia|
My prediction that within a week Ms. Dowd would be finished by the absence of a plausible explanation and Mea Culpa -- was laughably wrong. I'm not sure that even another month will vindicate me. I misjudged how serious the matter would be taken by the New York Times. I see a lot of reader (and writer) outrage and scorn, but little from the Times itself.
I think Ms. Dowd made a mistake, got rattled during the firestorm and then made more mistakes by blaming her quotable friend. My reasoning is that she didn't need to take foolish risks deliberately, so it probably wasn't theft. She's already a famous, award-winning columnist in little danger of losing her space, so she doesn't need to lift other people's work including the unremarkable, 43 words she borrowed.
I rarely agree with her views (save for the attention she aptly paid to Bill Clinton's peccadilloes in the 90s) and she strikes me as a Leftist in the Keith Olbermann tradition -- not the kind I can disagree with respectfully but someone who typically conveys opinions in a snarky, contemptible manner. So I admit that my antennae went up easily when I learned about her ordeal.
However, I'd like to think that if a columnist I normally agree with like Noonan, Krauthammer, or Goldberg, had inserted 43 words written by another and then proffered such a lame excuse, that I'd have been equally critical. When and if something like that happens, we'll see if I rise to the task.