Charles Siebert

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  • The NYT's Dowd-pocrisy

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH


    "The Times does not allow writers to replicate language without attribution."

    Those words appear in a NYT Editor's Note this morning, holding a freelance writer accountable for an "unwitting" lift from another writer's email in last Sunday's NYT Magazine cover story on whales.

    But those words apply equally to NYT columnist Maureen Dowd, who replicated language from a friend's email -- which turned out to be plagiarized -- without attribution in her May 13 column. Yet her clear violation of that NYT policy has continued to go unaddressed by the NYT.

    The NYT's double-standard in protecting Dowd on recent charges of plagiarism were never clearer than in this morning's Editor's Note -- putting freelance writer Charles Siebert out to dry for appropriating a handful of descriptive words from a source's email in his 7,498-word account of the way whales may be communicating with humans.

    Siebert -- a successful author who has written several cover stories for the NYT Magazine, with particular emphasis on animals -- claims his mistake was "unwitting." Dowd called hers "inadvertent." Why does Dowd's explanation take her off the hook, while Siebert gets punished with an extensive editor's note?

    Two months after lifting the contents on an entire email from a friend and putting it in her May 17 column -- learning later that the passage had been plagiarized from blogger Josh Marshall -- Dowd has never explained those events to readers, or had them addressed in any form other than a brief, benign next-day correction. Since then, Dowd and NYT officials have repeatedly ignored requests from The NYTPicker for comment on whether the paper conducted any internal investigation into Dowd's actions, to determine the truth of her flimsy account.