Ben Domenech: It's the Liberals Fault

The liberal-bashing from The New Republic is at this point weird, strained, stretched to the breaking point of credulity.  Take this piece, by hyperwankerific Rob Anderson, who blames unnamed liberal elites for the Ben Domenech affair.

Domenech deserved to be let go; but in the course of celebrating his demise, liberals have missed the real lesson of this entire episode. Instead of hiring a conservative, the Post hired a caricature of one; Domenech's blog would have been less a product of red America and more a product of what blue America understands red America to be. More than anything else, the sad saga of Ben Domenech reveals just how simplistic blue-state elites have become in their understanding of American conservatism.

Throughout the article, he quotes one person, Josh Marshall, in a measured comment about the Washington Post's management.  The rest of it is a weird evidence-less screed about how liberal elites hate Red States because we can't get over 2004.

The New Republic does terrific reporting sometimes, but this is a cheap, slapped together insult of an unnamed group of people that loosely includes those of us who read and write on MyDD.  This style of work in that magazine is just outdated, like The Macarena, only you don't secretly still love it.  I wish they'd just stop it already.

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Jim Brady, Steno Sue, and the WaPo's Flakadermia

"Flakadermia" is a word I just coined meaning "suffering from extremely thin skin."

This was in response to a random flashback on an incident involving Susan "Steno Sue" Schmidt back in 2001 or '02.  After receiving a critical e-mail from what was obviously a workplace address, she forwarded same to the writer's supervisor (Whose name and e-mail she found immediately, demonstrating that the Post's staff can do its research quickly and thoroughly when it's of vital importance!), sweetly inquiring whether this was the sort of thing her critic had been hired to do.

My recollection is that the employer was cool and the critic was not punished.  But even so, perhaps we can call it S-Sue's and the Post's "Valerie Plame" moment -- as in "F--- with us and we'll really f--- you up."

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The Moral of Box Turtle Ben: Don't Appease the Right-wing

So Ben's resigned.  What is the moral of the story?  Don't appease the right-wing anymore or you are not a journalist.  That's the essence of Digby's excellent post.

Journalists and editors should no longer appease the right-wing.  It doesn't matter if it's hiring Ben Domenech or listening as Bush tries to convince you of the link between 9/11 and Saddam or that Iraq is now named 'flowers and candy land', journalists should no longer listen to the right-wing.  Ken Mehlman's statements about Russ Feingold wanting to surrender to terrorists are no longer part of your story.  Period.  The idea that the media is hiding the good news in Iraq is not a story.  Period.

Do not appease the right-wing.  When you do, and when you treat the conservative movement as if they are a legitimate source of information, you end up with WMDs in Iraq, 9/11 linked to Saddam, or on a small scale, an unethical racist trashing the brand of the Washington Post and the career of Jim Brady.

Stop appeasing the right-wing.  It's bad for you.

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Right-wingers Slowly Jump Off the Ben Bus

The right-wing blogs are aflutter, unsure how to handle the unethical conduct of their colleague.  

Riel World View is off the Ben Bus:

Though apparently a co-founder, I would also encourage RedState to think very seriously about his role as a RedState blogger going forward. If Domenech plagiarized as freely and often as it would appear, there is no excuse for it.

Outside the Beltway:

I am not ready to toss Domenech under the proverbial bus or call for his firing at the moment. There may, indeed, be perfectly reasonable explanations for these charges. But while Erickson is probably right that "Facts have never been debate winners among the haters," they should damned well be debate winners among the rest of us. Let alone, I should add, the side that so loudly heralds traditional virtues like honor.

Patterico pleads with his fellow right-wingers to discuss the issue.

But not all is well in right-wing land. Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, and Glenn Reynolds are still silent.  This is especially notable because Ben edited Hugh's book and Malkin's latest book.

And Redstate?  Ahh, Redstate.  That loveable community is torn between pompous screeds like 'We Must Defend', 'We Must Attack', 'We Must Continue', and  simply lying:

And now those opposed to Ben have googled prior writings that on the surface appear suspicious, but only because permissions obtained and judgments made offline were not reflected online by an out dated and out of business campus newspaper.

Out of business?  And yet the paper published today?  This claim also makes it seem like Ben only plagiarized for his college newspaper, but stolen words appeared in many more publications than that.

We're now seeing the rot from the inside.  The conservative movement is nearly totally bereft of ethical standards.  Torn between loyalty and integrity, they pick neither, a lukewarm mixture of contempt for those who point out ethical violations, a reflexive angry defensiveness, and a melancholy regognition that supreme self-righteousness might not be the most appropriate attitude in every instance.

UPDATE: Ok, Michelle Malkin's off the bus.

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A Challenge to the Right-wing Bloggers Defending Ben Domenech

(Bumped and updated. - Scott)

Right wingers are defending new Washington Post blogger Ben Domenech over at Redstate's Red Hot and Michelle Malkin's blog.  Ok, fine.  You can argue the politics and the structure of journalism if you'd like, and you can even make an argument about balance.  I would disagree with it, but it is at least an argument.

But the plagiarism is a whole different story. If you stand for Domenech's employment at this point, you are standing for the right of journalists to plagiarize without consequence.  Is that what you are after?  Please defend Domenech's plagiarism.  Or at least explain it.

I'm noticing a heck of a lot of silence over there right about now.

Update (Scott): RedState responds, foaming at the mouth. Apparently, we're either making up the plagiarism charge or we're misinformed about the fact that all of those writers actually gave Domenech permission to copy their work. On the first point, sections of his work were posted alongside sections of the work he copied. That's not a debatable point. And I'm pretty sure the latter claim will be debunked by morning. Just a hunch.

By the way, am I the only one who finds this rightist faux-indignation just so cute you could pinch it?

Update 2 (Matt): An Atrios commenter points out that we're not talking about the two times Ben didn't plagiarize something. We are kind of mean that way.

Update 3 (Chris): Via Riehl World View, moving beyond plagarism and into outright fabrication, it would appear that in 2002 Domenech fabricated a Tim Russert quote. Spansanity has the details.

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