I was at first shocked and dismayed when I heard about the brouhaha surrounding New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd over the weekend. It was disheartening to read that the ballsy baroness of the Old Gray Lady had stooped so low as to copy and paste the words of a lowly blogger into her own column. I mean, this is the same woman lauded for leading the charge against Joe Biden’s own plagiarism decades ago.
Now, after having a day to think it over, I’m not as disheartened about the level someone as respected as Dowd apparently sunk to as I am emboldened by the level the lowly blogoverse has risen to.
See, the mere fact that Dowd would steal from Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo shows that she acknowledges that she (a Pulitzer Prize winner) couldn’t have made Marshall’s point more elegantly than he did. And that is really saying something, especially at a time when politicians and lobbyists are struggling over whether and how to save the ailing newspaper industry — all while dragging the credibility of bloggers through the muck like worthless trash.
It’s easy for journalists to throw stones at bloggers as unprofessional and incapable because, well, most bloggers aren’t getting paid. But I’ve met a lot of journalists who didn’t deserve to be paid, and I’ve read a lot of bloggers who do.
If “real” journalists are trying to prove their worth, they ought not steal from the very bloggers they disparage publicly.