A Washington Post/Ben Domenech Flashback

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz writes up the controversy over CBS' publication of a column by bigoted right-wing plagiarist Ben Domenech. To my surprise, Kurtz actually mentioned the Post's own unfortunate decision to hire Domenech a few years ago:

The Post's Web site briefly hired Domenech as a conservative blogger in 2006. He resigned three days after his debut after a flurry of plagiarism allegations that were trumpeted by liberal Web sites. The sites found signs of plagiarism in a movie review he wrote for National Review Online and, earlier, in his writing for the College of William & Mary's student newspaper.

Domenech maintained that he did not knowingly use other people's writing without attribution but said the “firestorm” had “reached the point where there's nothing I can really do to defend myself.”

It is worth noting, however, that Kurtz downplayed the extent of Domenech's plagiarism. There weren't just “signs of plagiarism” -- in one case, Domenech signed his name to a column that appeared to have been lifted entirely from a P.J. O'Rourke book. That's pretty hard to do un- “knowingly.”

Downplaying the case against Domenech is nothing new for Howard Kurtz. The Post media critic -- who claims he's as aggressive towards the Post as he would be if he didn't work there -- spent the brief, controversial period between the Post's hiring of Domenech and his “resignation” dismissing complaints about Domenech's lack of credentials and downplaying evidence of plagiarism.

Incredibly, after Domenech left the Post, Kurtz suggested that the decision to hire the bigoted Republican activist demonstrated that the hiring practices of newspapers like the Post “tilt toward people of the liberal persuasion.”

Finally, something to keep in mind about the Washington Post and Domenech: The Post didn't get rid of him for calling Coretta Scott King a “communist,” echoing the slur used against the Kings by generations of racists. The Post didn't get rid of him for comparing “the Judiciary” unfavorably to the KKK. Or for posting without comment an article* stating that “killing black babies has the happy result of reducing crime.” Or for writing that a gay male journalist “needs a woman to give him some stability.”

No, Ben Domenech's overt bigotry didn't cost him his job at the Post, which only dumped him when his plagiarism was revealed.

* This sentence originally indicated that Domenech wrote the line in question himself. I regret the error.