|Maureen Dowd at Democratic Debate in Philadelphia, PA April 16, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Dowd has plagiarized. She has filed columns with inaccurate datelines. Both of those incidents involved Dowd passing off the writing and reporting of others — friends and assistants — as her own, uncredited. There was also the time — still, as far as I know, never explained — when an insulting and effeminizing description of Barack Obama was mysteriously scrubbed from the online version of the column.
Any single one of those errors might’ve gotten a cub reporter fired from the Times. But no non-superstar would’ve been allowed to get away with all of those mistakes* — especially the ones that seem very much like the intentional sexing up of material. Maureen Dowd has gotten away with it because she is influential and decorated. She’s a Pulitzer winner! But her influence and fame should cause her to be held to a higher standard, not a more lax one. Mistakes — and outright dishonesty — coming from someone as prominent as Dowd are worse. If a back-of-the-Metro Section news story misquotes someone, it’s bad, but the damage is limited to the people who read the story. If Maureen Dowd manufactures a quote, it can live forever. It travels. It becomes part of “the narrative.”