Archive for ‘Maureen Dowd’

August 9, 2009

MoDo Covers the Jesse Griffin Scandal

“Gryphen” gets an extension on his 15 minutes of fame courtesy of the New York Times columnist:

Palin is still obsessed with the blogosphere, which recently lit up with a rumor — started by a fellow mavericky Alaskan, who also no longer has his job — that she and Todd were Splitsville.

Excuse me, Ms. Dowd, but is Palin “obsessed with the blogosphere” or is it the other way around? And don’t you share that obsession? Furthermore, ma’am — speaking of “Gryphen” a/k/a former Anchorage kindergarten teaching assistant Jesse Ray Griffin — is it the usual practice of the New York Times to ignore, in its news pages, events which are significant enough to merit commentary from its Pulitzer-winning columnists?

This is from my Thursday account of Griffin’s resignation from Trailside Elementary School:

“Sarah is finished with Todd and has decided to end their marriage,” Griffin wrote at “Immoral Minority” Saturday morning, saying that “one of [his] best sources” had told him the Palins were divorcing. Griffin’s story was immediately promoted by Dennis Zaki’s “Alaska Report” site, which claimed that “multiple sources” had confirmed the report.
Jeanne Devon, an Anchorage Democratic activist who had previously blogged anonymously, also promoted Griffin’s “exclusive” at the Huffington Post. As a result of this promotion, by Saturday afternoon Zaki’s headline, “Todd and Sarah Palin to divorce,” was the lead item at the popular Memeorandum political news site, even though it had already been officially denied by Palin spokeswoman Meg Stapleton.
Griffin wrote on his blog Wednesday, “I stand by every single word” of the original report, which accused Sarah Palin of attempting “to hide a broken relationship” with husband Todd.

You see, Ms. Dowd, how this “exclusive” got boosted up the online food chain so that, within a few hours of an unverified blind-source rumor being posted by “Gryphen” on his Immoral Minority site, it was the hottest story on the Internet. And it was his claim to have an “exclusive” — as if his sources were more reliable than mine — that drew my interest.

Given your Pulitzer-winning reputation for thoroughness, Ms. Dowd, I’m sure you’ll be interested in reporting the whole story about what “Gryphen” wrote on his blog:

“I think that this trend toward real people having real sex is definitely the way to go. . . . when you see a video of an amateur couple having sex you can tell that they are simply doing it for the sheer excitement of sharing their passion with a bunch of middle aged pervs who are going to wank off to their sexual exploits.”
— “Gryphen,” 6/3/07

“If sex is not naughty then it is almost not worth doing. I love kids, but in my opinion they are just a side effect of a healthy sex life.”
— “Gryphen,” 6/14/07

“And your penis will respond more readily if you take it out and put it through its paces more often. Duh! So the next time your girlfriend/wife/mother bust you for watching porn on your computer, simply tell her that you are exercising and you would appreciate some privacy.”
— “Gryphen,” 7/7/08

Yesterday the no-longer-pseudonym-protected Griffin was back to “just asking questions” mode:

My question is. who pays for this? Who sent money to the websites that attacked me to spend so much time trying to cut and paste bit and pieces of four year old posts together in an effort to “prove” I am a bad guy?

It would be embarrassing to admit that the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy hasn’t been hitting the tip-jar with enough frequency lately to keep up with my expenses. So if it suits Griffin’s pathological imagination to suppose that Big Pharma or Halliburton are footing the bill, why spoil the illusion?

I’m sitting here in my silk pajamas, smoking Cohibas and sipping Dom Perignon, all of it paid for by GOP fat-cat donors who don’t mind my slagging John McCain, dissing Charlie Crist and voting for Bob Barr. Meanwhile, Dan Riehl has spent his VRWC loot to rent a beach house in Ocean City and hire the second runner-up in the 2007 Miss Ukraine pageant to attend to his domestic needs. (“No, Katerina, I said very clearly I wanted my sandwich with mustard, mayonnaise and pickles . . .”)

What might arouse the curiosity of a Pulitzer-winning columnist like Ms. Dowd is this question: Why can’t Griffin, who claims to have sources who give him the “exclusive” lowdown on the state of Todd and Sarah Palin’s love life, get his sources to tell him who’s paying Dan and I?

Frankly, despite denials of a Palin divorce, I can’t even get my sources to share the intimate details of the couple’s romantic activities. (7:04 p.m. Thursday: “Todd gives Sarah a playful squeeze.” 8:17 p.m. Thursday: “Sarah sneaks up behind Todd while he’s watching ESPN and nonchalantly begins rubbing his shoulders.” ) So if I, who am supposedly on the Palin payroll, can’t get that kind of dish, why is it that Jesse Ray Griffin’s sources are so reliable, so ubiquitous, so omniscient?

Check the timeline of the “Gryphen” investigation, Ms. Dowd, and see if you can resist the Pulitzer-worthy conclusion that Jesse Ray Griffin is a lying sack of crap with less journalistic credibility than Jayson Blair.

Oh, BTW, Ms. Dowd, we’ve met, although I’m not sure we were properly introduced. When you arrived at CPAC 2007 to cover Dick Cheney’s speech, it was I who volunteered to escort you to the media sign-in table. After the speech, my young friend Ian Schwartz asked me to get you to pose for a photo with him.

Since we’re already acquaintances, Ms. Dowd — shhhh! my wife might get jealous — perhaps I can speak to the funders of the VRWC and ask them to cut you in on this action. Just send Dan Riehl an e-mail and ask for the Griffin dossier, then catch the next flight to Anchorage. Remember to bill it to “Arlkay Overay.”

I’ll phone the Pulitzer Committee and tell them to keep an eye out for your next big scoop.

(Note to regular readers: “Arlkay Overay” is a notorious cheapskate, so please hit the tip jar.)

UPDATE: Dan Riehl links, and remarks:

Nice try, Jesse. But you don’t get to ring the bell to end the fight in this one. There are no referees’s arms for you to flee into, no corner to crawl up in and hide. But you’ll likely find that out for yourself this week. I’m not done with you . . .

Ruh-roh. And Dan quotes Griffin’s latest expedition into Trig Trutherism:

Sarah Palin has used this heartrending diminutive prop with such careless abandon, that even people who once supported her are embarrassed at her apparent disregard for the well being of this baby.
Leaving behind all of the questions about Trig’s parentage, the question we must now ask ourselves is how well is he currently being cared for?
I believe that many people have very powerful concerns for this child.We see him trotted out when Sarah wants to make a political point, or create the warm motherly image for the cameras, but who cares for him while there are no cameras to record the event? (Emphasis added.)

And — who knew? — Jesse’s a huge MoDo fan!

The fact that she wrote about my situation in her column absolutely makes my day.

Stay tuned to RIEHL WORLD VIEW. Meanwhile, the VRWC just sent me a new minion to supervise.

UPDATE II: Now linked at Memeorandum.

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June 8, 2009

Two on the POTUS

by Smitty

Bill Whittle takes the Maureen Dowd “Spock” piece out into orbit for a while. Very, very nicely done. The editorial ran about a month ago, which is roughly a decade on the tubey-clouds, but the production values tell you two things:

  • PJTV is as serious as lung cancer about what it’s doing
  • Whittle is an excellent writer/performer/talking head

Now, quite screwing around and put that on YouTube so it can go viral!
In related POTUS news (h/t Insty), Snopes confirms that a letter from a retired CEO expressing dismay about BHO’s opacity is both devastating and genuine.

May 19, 2009

MoDoGate: By God, Fire Somebody!

Slate’s Jack Shafer tries to defend Maureen Dowd:

Many a plagiarist in the past has blamed his theft on over-work, a sick child at home, alcohol use, mental illness, workplace harassment, or a dying parent in the hospice. Others have blamed the sticky cut-and-paste function of their word processors or claimed the words that they copied weren’t that unique, so what’s the big deal? Or they’ve appealed for a get-out-of-pillory-free card because they didn’t deliberately copy that passage.
Dowd isn’t offering any of these cop-outs. I hope I’m not reading too much into her fragmentary responses, but she appears to understand that neither carelessness nor intent constitutes a plagiarism defense.

As a member of the zero-tolerance school, I’m certainly not prone to forgive Maureen Dowd for this, especially because:

  • A. She lifted an entire freaking paragraph. You could perhaps cut her slack for a bit of parallel construction, a similarity of phrasing, but she just outright stole a 43-word sentence that she used as the penultimate paragraph of her column. Ben Domenech was publicly flayed for less.
  • B. She is a columnist. Look, I spent many years in the newspaper business. A reporter rushing to beat a deadline on a hard-breaking story can be let off with a reprimand if caught carelessly omitting an attribution (e.g., “the Associated Press reported”) on B-matter he cribbed from the wires. But Dowd is only required to file twice a week, and she is a senior staffer writing for the op-ed page. For her to be cutting-and-pasting from her IM window straight into her column is simply not acceptable.

Again, I make reference to the Domenech affair. What got Domenech canned at the WaPo was not anything he’d done at the WaPo, but rather the discovery that he had plagiarized in stuff he’d previously written elsewhere. And the damning thing, at least to me, was that Domenech had done this in film reviews and other feature-type stuff — for example, his NRO take on Britney that transparently borrowed (“Lip Smackers . . . Catholic schoolgirl uniform . . . midriff”) from a Salon article.

Most of Domenech’s borrowing, however, was student writing and at least he had the excuse of youth, a mere lad of 18 at the time of his Britney article. This requires me to digress and reiterate my Grumpy Old Newspaper Guy complaint — “I’ve got ties older than you, kid!” — against the Wunderkind Syndrome in modern journalism.

Kids are being permitted to run before they have been taught to walk. It’s all fine and good for student journalists to do ignorant opinion pieces and puerile features in campus papers. (I got my start doing rock-music reviews for the JSU Chanticleer, forgotten wretchedness I hope never again sees the light of day.) But when they get into real-world jobs, they ought not be indulged in their arrogant belief that they’re the Second Coming of Lionel Trilling or Lester Bangs or H.L. Mencken.

The job of a beginning journalist’s first editor is to pound some humility into the kid’s soul. Make him pay his dues by reporting crappy little stories where it’s all drudgery and no glory. Hand him a stack of press releases and have him compile the “community briefs” column that runs on Page B2. On the sports desk, the junior staffers are generally required to put together the round-up of box scores and league standings that run in agate type on Page C4, hence the phrase “agate maggot” for the low man on the sports-section totem pole.

Maureen Dowd was never an agate maggot, but you can’t say she didn’t pay her dues. She started with the old Washington Star, worked at Time magazine, did a stint on the metro beat for the New York Times and was a mature 33 before she became the paper’s Washington correspondent. It took her nine years from there to get onto the op-ed page (where, as many victims of her A1 “reporting” insisted, she should have been assigned long before).

MoDo is no Ross Douthat — the boy is twenty-freaking-nine! — and therefore she should know better than to stick a paragraph of unknown provenance into her column. I said when this was first reported that the mysterious “friend” who gave her that paragraph was probably her editorial assistant. If my hunch is right, the assistant should be fired.

Whatever the backstory, somebody must be fired. My God, the brilliant Rick Bragg got fired from the New York Times merely for relying on a hired stringer to help him with a “toe-touch” byline. (Trust me, folks: If a “toe-touch” byline is a firing offense, we need to discuss how many White House correspondents ever filed a Bush-at-the-Texas-ranch story from Waco with a Crawford dateline, which is to say, all of them as far as I know.)

“Even reading and watching all the news, there is no way to know the truth — except to be there.”
Hunter S. Thompson,
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

More even than her plagiarism, this is really the indictment of Dowd, an indictment that could be extended to many others in the commentariat: They’re not doing any original reporting.

I always recommend Robert Novak’s The Prince Of Darkness to anyone who wants to understand how real reporters get their scoops. As Thompson said, you have to be there, or at least pick up the phone and talk to the people who were. For some reason, it seldom occurs to these op-ed divas to go out to the scene — a congressional hearing on Gitmo detainees, for example — and report what they actually see and hear themselves.

What? Sulzberger wouldn’t pay MoDo’s cab fare to Capitol Hill? Leon Panetta wouldn’t return the call if his secretary handed him the message that Maureen Dowd of the New York Times had requested an interview?

By God, fire somebody!

UPDATE: What part of “fuck you, Steve Benen” is so hard to understand? Benen asserts without evidence that liberal blogs are better, citing liberal blogger Nate Silver for corroboration — because that really proves it, you see?

Benen boast about readership, slagging Michelle Malkin (8 million visits per month) and Hot Air (17 million/mo.), when anybody can plainly see that Benen’s own blog gets 1/10 the traffic of Hot Air. And yet Benen would have us believe that MSM journalists are more likely to read liberal blogs simply because liberal blogs are more popular.

Also note that, whereas Michelle Malkin comes from a journalism background, Benen has never been anything except a professional liberal/Democrat shill: Clinton White House speechwriter, Democratic direct mail writer, congressional campaign flack, spokesbot for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

You’re a damned two-faced liar, Benen, and no real journalist could ever possibly respect a two-bit political hack like you.

May 18, 2009

MoDo plagiarizes left-wing blogger!

Good-bye, Maureen Dowd:

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, in an email to Huffington Post, admits that a paragraph in her Sunday column was lifted from Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall’s blog last Thursday. . . .
[I] was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent — and I assumed spontaneous — way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.
[B]ut, clearly, my friend must have read [J]osh [M]arshall without mentioning that to me.we’re fixing it on the web, to give Josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction tomorrow.

(Hat-tips: Don Surber, Memeorandum.) Her “friend” who gave her the quote was, no doubt, her paid editorial assistant. The New York Times provides all its columnists (including David Brooks, for example) with assistants. This practice is a hold-over from the days when the New York Times actually made money. The purloined paragraph:

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

This isn’t an obscure fact that you ask an editorial assistant to look up. (“Hey, Jennifer, what’s the GDP of Botswana? And get me a cup of coffee, hon.”) It’s a propaganda claim. That Maureen Dowd is paid $300,000 a year and can’t even be bothered to come up with her own liberal spin should tell you all you need to know about why the New York Times is slouching toward bankruptcy.

UPDATE: “Oh, to be a JournoList blogger tonight!”

UPDATE II: Ed Driscoll notes the history of “Dowdification.” Amazing that she couldn’t accurately quote the President of the United States, but she got Josh Marshall word-for-word.

UPDATE III: Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters: “Exit question: what does the friend know, and when did [s]he know it?”

UPDATE IV: Jimmie Bise at Sundries Shack:

I didn’t think there was a limit to how many times someone could write a column based around the theme “ZOMG! Dick Cheney is teh suck!”

Dowd’s column was part of a pushback against the Pelosi/torture revelations. If you suspect that this pushback was part of an orchestrated effort by Democrats to change the subject, you are a right-wing conspiracy-theorist nutjob.

UPDATE V: Welcome, Cold Fury readers!