Monday, May 25, 2009

Siegel calls for NY Times to remove Dowd

ROBERT S. SIEGEL writes on the Dowd plagiarism business:

Slate’s Jack Shafer noted that Dowd handled herself well during the incident by responding promptly and openly with an explanation that was not an excuse. He adds that her next step should be a column telling readers how this whole thing happened.

IPBiz questions whether Dowd's saying she got the previously blog-published material "from a friend" is a defense. Not crediting the friend vs. not crediting the blog, the issue remains taking something without crediting the source. Is Dowd's column merely a collection of "what was heard from friends"?

The present Dowd situation evokes the earlier Laurence Tribe matter. Although Tribe acknowledged plagiarism happened, the tricky wording of Tribe's apology led some to suspect it was a ghost writer who had committed the plagiarism, and Tribe's real sin was placing his name on material he had not written. Some suggested Elena Kagan may have been involved.

An odd twist on ghost-writing happened in the recent Ward Churchill business at Colorado University. To make his own work appear more credible, Churchill wrote an article, under someone ELSE'S name, praising Churchill's work. This in turn is somewhat like drug companies hiring writers to write articles praising drugs, which articles appear in press under the by-line of professors who did not in fact write the article.

Siegel wrote of the New York Times:

The New York Times remains one of the world’s most widely read and most influential newspapers. The newspaper was always a liberal leaning paper. Journalists tend toward activist views and the Times size and power always made its left leaning seem bigger than at other papers. In recent years however, the paper has leaned significantly more left causing it to lose credibility with a large segment of the American public. In that the NYTimes news coverage has a depth and breadth unequaled by any other news outlet in the world, this loss of credibility is a growing problem for our nation and the world. We need a well informed electorate to strengthen our Constitution.

The text -- Journalists tend toward activist views -- evokes the coverage of patent reform by many journalists, who have given the pro-reform position inordinate coverage. The piece by Eli Kintisch in Science comes to mind, but even the Wall Street Journal has been extraordinarily one-sided in its reporting.

Siegel calls for Dowd's ouster:

But the United States of America needs the New York Times to take a strong stand for its own credibility. Dowd needs to go.

That is about as likely as Harvard Law telling Laurence Tribe to leave.

Of the Dowd matter, see also


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