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Ben Domenech, Post Blogger
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, March 24, 2006

I've not commented on the new Red America blog at the Washington Post, nor on the initial controversy surrounding the hiring of Ben Domenech to author it because, frankly, it just wasn't that important. And the charges of racism, home-schooling (home-schooling!), conservative views and creationism mostly didn't pass the laugh test as legitimate or important criticisms.

Mostly, so far, I've wondered about what this media-storm says about us.

When this much media and blogospheric attention is given to a single blog on the website of a newspaper that carries a plethora of blogs, I think we've reached the top of the blog buzz bubble; it's become a narcissistic media/blog circle jerk. We write about them, so they pay attention to us, which makes us write about them. Everybody loves attention, and everybody involved is feeding off this cycle far more than should be the case.

That's not to say that blogs and newspapers/media outlets should not cooperate. I believe there's a huge market opportunity for that kind of integration, but I'm not sure that it's quite important enough to warrant this kind of attention.

That said, I think the new allegations about plagiarism are clearly and categorically different than the initial quibbles. What's more, as often as he appears to have plagiarized — here's a comprehensive compendium — I can't even conceive of an exculpatory explanation. Red State's defenses don't even approach plausibility. (though, Charles Bird is reasonable as always)

I've got no skin in this game — I'm not even a conservative — but I've got no problem at all with suggestions by Rick Moran and Dan Riehl that Domenech resign, for his own sake and that of the Washington Post.

UPDATE: Domenech does the right thing, resigning.

UPDATE II:

I never found this (pdf) concern for "balance" very convincing, though...
I noted with interest that WashingtonPost.com has just hired a former Bush Administration official to write a conservative blog entitled “Red America.”

Balanced coverage and ideologically diverse editorials have long been hallmarks of responsible journalism. If the Post would like to appear evenhanded, I strongly suggest the website launch a similarly partisan liberal blog, “Blue America.” [Rep. Pete Stark (D-Ca)]
Ideological equality at newspapers? I don't recall the Left being worked up about this before.....
Right-Leaning New York Times Columnists:
  1. David Brooks

  2. John Tierney


Left-Leaning New York Times Columnists:
  1. Nicholas Kristof

  2. Maureen Dowd

  3. Paul Krugman

  4. Thomas Friedman

  5. Frank Rich

  6. Bob Herbert
...but I'm very interested to see them pursue it at the New York Times, too!

MORE:

Captain Ed offers some pointed commentary about the issue, and directs me to this interesting idea from Jay Rosen...
Now that Ben Domenech has resigned from the washingtonpost.com I hope Jim Brady will do the right thing, the creative thing, the thing that would turn this sorry episode around and allow the post.com to come out with a win for its readers and in the blogosphere.

An open competition on the Web to be the next political blogger at post.com, but instead of hiring one “red state” person and leaving it at that (a strategic error in my opinion) Brady should say that three slots will be filled over the coming year. One from column right, one from column left, and a third voice that is definitely neither of those, which could mean libertarian— or not.
I'd love to see the WaPo create a more mannered, CrossFire-style three-way blog discussion among Left, Right and libertarian.

Thoughtful bloggers to fill those roles already exist. Find them and start the conversation.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
I’ll gloat.... I am very sorry for Mr. Domenech. This is a simply awful thing to have happen to one. I know he brought it on hmself, but the public humiliation is a terrible thing nonetheless.

But I am proud of "my" side. Michael Moore produces(d) the equivalent of the works of Reni Riefenstahl and he pretty much gets a pass from his side, infact he gets praise and adulation for "speaking truth to power." "My" side will hold it’s pundits a little more accountable. I’m reasoanbly pleased by that... though Mr. Domenech must feel pretty low today.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Yes, Michelle Malkin was actually calling for him to resign as well, after being a big supporter initially.
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Hehe.. post blogger in both sense of the words!
 
Written By: Taylor
URL: http://freshpolitics.us
I feel kinda bad for him too. He’s clearly a talented writer who didn’t need to engage in such stupid actions to "get ahead." To have your career suddenly ended just as you’re getting to the top — yikes!

It’s interesting though. 10 years ago, he’d have gotten away with it. It’s amazing how the blogosphere allows people to dig up college newspaper articles, or allow people who have various stories regarding someone’s acts to interact with each other to create a greater narrative. It gets harder and harder to have anything resembling a skeleton in your closet. Not saying that’s a bad thing, just interesting.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
1) What does this say about "us"? It says that the left are a bunch of babies who don’t want balance so much as silence.

2)Nice job by WaPo here. You get the feeling that Google is a verboten word at some of these establishment media places.

3) Domenech did the right thing by resigning. He needs to get his sh*t together and straighten up.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
This is 3 days running, I belive that someone has stepped on their poncho, "Mr Human RIghts Guy" at the NYT, "Ms. Katrina Victim" also NYT, and now this... OK, reporters at big-time papers make boo-coo dollars, can NO ONE fact check?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
But I am proud of "my" side. Michael Moore produces(d) the equivalent of the works of Reni Riefenstahl and he pretty much gets a pass from his side, infact he gets praise and adulation for "speaking truth to power." "My" side will hold it’s pundits a little more accountable
From RedState
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. But that’s all the opponents want - just enough to sabotage a career, though in the process they will sabotage themselves. Facts have no meaning. Only impressions have any bearing on this. The charges of plagarism are false, meant to bring down a good and honest man. The presented facts to prove plagarism are specious — products of shoddy work. One could easily think the producers of 60 Minutes II were behind them.

Facts have never been debate winners among the haters.
*****
1) What does this say about "us"? It says that the left are a bunch of babies who don’t want balance so much as silence.
Balance? The Washington Times isn’t balanced, why does the Washington Post have to be balanced? (George Will, Charles Krauthammer) The Wall Street Journal isn’t balanced. Why does the New York Times have to be balanced? FoxNews isn’t balanced. Why does CNN need to be balanced?


 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Mk... you never said Michael was telling the truth...Oh note, Malkin, NRO and many others called on him to step down... which he did. Now have Michael Moore, Charlie Sheen and Charlie Sheen said anything like, "Oooops our bad, we’ve been talking out of our A$$es and basically making things up. Any way, don’t listen to us any more, for at least a while."? Yeah I thought not...

They don’t have to balanced MK, but they just need to be HONEST... "All the LIBERAL News That’s Fit to Print" or "All the News we See FIT to Print" or "Anything that makes Republicans Look Bad is OK to Print." So I guess tacitly you’re admitting that they’re in your corner, and by "they" I mean about 70-80% of the MSM.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Yeah, who needs news organizations to be balanced! Balance and objectivity is for suckers!!

Thanks MK...I’ll remember you said this the next time you open your yap to cry about FNC or talk radio or whatever.



 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Shark, dude, that’s Faux News....let’s get this right, otherwise Progressives wouldn’t know what you were talking about...oh and see if you can work in something about "The Sheeple" when you mention Faux News... It shows that you are Hip and With It and one of the Reality-Based Community. Not some Redneck Resident of JesusLand Voter for Chimpy McHilterburton....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Domenich has a long post up at redstate in his defense.

http://www.redstate.com/story/2006/3/24/151255/259

Some of the instances seem to be reasonably explained, others I’m less sure about (I’m not sure how seriously I take the "others inserted the plagiarized material into my stuff" defense, but then again he was 17 at a college paper, so who knows). Anyway, there you have it.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
They don’t have to balanced MK, but they just need to be HONEST... "All the LIBERAL News That’s Fit to Print" or "All the News we See FIT to Print" or "Anything that makes Republicans Look Bad is OK to Print." So I guess tacitly you’re admitting that they’re in your corner, and by "they" I mean about 70-80% of the MSM.
The issue is not whether they are balanced. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. The issue is whether they have to be balanced. Again, everyone knows Fox isn’t balanced, but Fox says it’s balanced. That never seems to upset wingers, however. They are perfectly willing to live in a world where a national news network is downright dishonest, because they are dishonest in their favor.

This episode is interesting because the Washington Post did exactly what the right wing machine wanted it to do: hire a winger blogger and start a blog on its site for wingers. Indeed, it appears they did it with some haste. And if your post is any indication, even that is not enough.

As for honesty, how in the world this episode has anything to do with whether the WaPo is honest or not is beyond me. Frankly, it sounds like you just got the latest right wing media criticism handbook and you just picked a random page out of it.

What is even more baffling about the rant against the liberal media is that a reporter from the "liberal" NYT went to jail for the Bush administration this year to hide their secrets, and the NYT backed her up. And yet the right wing noise machine still bleats on and on about how the NYT has it out for Bush. It’s just astounding.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
This episode is interesting because the Washington Post did exactly what the right wing machine wanted it to do: hire a winger blogger and start a blog on its site for wingers. Indeed, it appears they did it with some haste. And if your post is any indication, even that is not enough.
What are you saying, MK? I think it is fine they have a blogger on the Right, he just needs to not be a plagiarist... And so the one does not equal the other.
What is even more baffling about the rant against the liberal media is that a reporter from the "liberal" NYT went to jail for the Bush administration this year to hide their secrets, and the NYT backed her up. And yet the right wing noise machine still bleats on and on about how the NYT has it out for Bush. It’s just astounding.
She was a heroine as long as she was "Standing for Journalistic Principles" when it turns out she was flacking for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., suddenly Judith Miller got the cold shoulder.

Oh and Fox, isn’t the Problem MK, that you have a 1:1 ratio of Left to Right commentators, not the usual 3 Liberals, the "Moderate, Unbiased host" versus 1 Conservative that you usually find. Yeah Fox leans Right because in comparison it certainly SEEMS more balanced than other channels.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
They are perfectly willing to live in a world where a national news network is downright dishonest, because they are dishonest in their favor.
Downright dishonest, eh? Well, let’s see, how many obvious forged memos have Fox used to back up stories, as CBS did? How many times had they had to fire reporters, such as CNN did over Tailwind, because of dishonest reporting about the military? How many times have they been found to blow up pick up trucks, as NBC did, to make the auto industry look bad? Hom many of their new chiefs have made unsupported assertions such as that our military targets journalists, as Eason Jordon of CNN did?

Your standard of what’s "dishonest" is typically disingenuous for a leftist. You’ll get bent out of shape about a claim to be balanced, but don’t seem to care if an organization is actually honest in their reporting...
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
The issue is not whether they are balanced. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. The issue is whether they have to be balanced.
I agree. Where is it written that a news organization must be balanced? I hate to keep beating the same drum, but it is a private enterprise competing in the free market system. If one doesn’t like the NYT, then one doesn’t have to purchase the paper.
Am I the only mook here that realizes this???
Ideological equality at newspapers? I don’t recall the Left being worked up about this before.....
...but I’m very interested to see them pursue it at the New York Times, too!
I agree, Jon. And I would also like to see the NYT commit more conservative editorial writers. I would like to see your words somewhere in the Old Grey Lady.
What I don’t understand is the constant uproar about the Times. It is a newspaper in a Blue town in a Blue state. So I would expect their views to be colored blue.
And so what if one is upset that the “Paper of record” is Blue. Tough. The market will bare.

If one doesn’t like it. Too bad. Do your own investigative reporting and compete right along with them.

Oh and Fox, isn’t the Problem MK, that you have a 1:1 ratio of Left to Right commentators, not the usual 3 Liberals, the "Moderate, Unbiased host" versus 1 Conservative that you usually find. Yeah Fox leans Right because in comparison it certainly SEEMS more balanced than other channels.
Joe. That’s just crazy talk. One to one ratio of Left to Right!?!?!?
Downright dishonest, eh? Well, let’s see, how many obvious forged memos have Fox used to back up stories, as CBS did? How many times had they had to fire reporters, such as CNN did over Tailwind, because of dishonest reporting about the military? How many times have they been found to blow up pick up trucks, as NBC did, to make the auto industry look bad? Hom many of their new chiefs have made unsupported assertions such as that our military targets journalists, as Eason Jordon of CNN did?
Hah!
With fear of defending CBS, CNN, and NBC, I feel I must remind you Billy,
How many times has FoxNews broken a story? (other than a Natalie Holiway related exlusive)
Come on. Do you even watch FoxNews? It seems as though they just repeat what other organizations have done … and then criticize them for it of course.
(It’s a brilliant business strategy. Why invest capital with investigative journalism when you could just use their stuff and profit from it?)

 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Your standard of what’s "dishonest" is typically disingenuous for a leftist. You’ll get bent out of shape about a claim to be balanced, but don’t seem to care if an organization is actually honest in their reporting...
Oh Billy.

Yesterday Hannity said that HRC said that "immigration reform" is un-Christian. HRC didn’t say that. She said that a particular piece of legislation was not consistent with her understanding of scripture. In fact, HRC had previously proposed some reforms of her own. Media Matters has more here.

Puting aside for the moment the merits of the issue, Hannity’s characterization was blatantly false. Sure, it wasn’t the most egregious lie. But the point is that I only had to go back to yesterday to show you the kind of dissemblers occupy the chair at Fox. There are literally hundreds of examples from Fox. Indeed, Brit Hume is a fountain of them.

What kills me is that wingers live in this fantasy world where they truly believe that Fox doesn’t have an ax to grind. That Rupert Murdoch is this kind of apolitical plutocrat. That Roger Ailes isn’t some kind of spinmeister. It’s just strange.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
What kills me is that wingers live in this fantasy world where they truly believe that Fox doesn’t have an ax to grind. That Rupert Murdoch is this kind of apolitical plutocrat. That Roger Ailes isn’t some kind of spinmeister. It’s just strange.

We don’t believe it MK, but we don’t get wrapped around the axle with one outlet that doesn’t lable the Cato Institute or Jerry Falwell "Conservative" but then talks about the NRDC, or John Kennedy as "Public Advocates".
Hah!
With fear of defending CBS, CNN, and NBC, I feel I must remind you Billy,
How many times has FoxNews broken a story? (other than a Natalie Holiway related exlusive)
Come on. Do you even watch FoxNews? It seems as though they just repeat what other organizations have done … and then criticize them for it of course.
(It’s a brilliant business strategy. Why invest capital with investigative journalism when you could just use their stuff and profit from it?)
THAT’S their market Niche, dude... it’s their COMMENTARY that makes the draw. it’s like you’e complaining about an F-1 car being too fast. That’s it’s appeal.
I agree. Where is it written that a news organization must be balanced? I hate to keep beating the same drum, but it is a private enterprise competing in the free market system. If one doesn’t like the NYT, then one doesn’t have to purchase the paper.
Am I the only mook here that realizes this???
Columbia School of Journalism, again... did you miss the ABC "ooops" "Bush makes me sick, but OH I’m sorry it doesn’t colour our news..." If the MSM didn’t care about "objectivity" it wouldn’t apologize for itself when its mask slips. Sure as long as the Arkansas Times DEMOCRAT is honest about it’s reportage and editorial slant that’s OK, but I hate it when the Democrat says, "Oh we’re NEUTRAL. We just report the facts."
it is a private enterprise competing in the free market system.

Sure and if there was a free market of news and commentary, which may emerge in the future it would be Ok, but instead we have a MSM mono-culture that is structurally Keynesian Liberal that views its glory days as the McCArthy Hearings, the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam and Watergate. Just as the old aphorism was that every Army prepares for the last war, so too the MSM. Everything is a cover-up, or a whitewash, or a scandal-gate...Also check out the voting records of MSM journalists, 80-90% voted for Kerry, Gore, Clinton. Now if all your reporters or 90% were Scientologists would you have any doubts about the media’s coverage of religion?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I agree. Where is it written that a news organization must be balanced? I hate to keep beating the same drum, but it is a private enterprise competing in the free market system. If one doesn’t like the NYT, then one doesn’t have to purchase the paper.
Am I the only mook here that realizes this???


Based on the rapidly declining fortunes of the news dailies, I’d say that hundreds of thousands of people also realize this.

Anyway, I find your strawman to be amusing. Of course it isn’t any sort of law that a news organization must be balanced- and I thank you and MK
for what is obviously your declaration AGAINST the fairness doctrine that the Dems want to impose if they ever get a chance. We’ll remember that in case you reverse yourselves in the future.

That said, news organizations that make loud noises about their noble and important job in safeguarding our democracies and freedoms- well, shouldn’t they be balanced, just from a common sense standpoint??? How can you safeguard our freedoms blah blah blah if you’re only looking one way?

Again, we’re not saying the MUST be balanced, we’re saying they SHOULD be balanced. You’re saying "who cares about balance" which proves my initial point- we want balance, you want silence.

Afterall, it’s easy to not care about balance when the scales are tipped in your favor, isn’t it?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Yesterday Hannity said that HRC said that "immigration reform" is un-Christian. HRC didn’t say that. She said that a particular piece of legislation was not consistent with her understanding of scripture. In fact, HRC had previously proposed some reforms of her own. Media Matters has more here.
MK - to defend yourself you go to Hannity? He’s a talk show host, not a news man. Using him to make your case is silly.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Don’t blame George W. for invading Iraq, God told him to do it. George and Chane have done a good job of using a snow job with George’s born again christian farce.
This is administration is the most corrupt in American history ,perhaps the world over. Is it likly that the world will wake up some morning to a nuclear winter?
 
Written By: Clarence Swartz
URL: http://
Shark,

Take a look at the subtitle below "The QandO Blog" at the top of this page. See how it says "Free Markets, Free People"? The news agencies being discussed so far are privately operated corporations; not government subsidiaries. As such, they have absolutely no obligation to be "fair" or to be "balanced" or to fill whatever role you so deem appropriate. It is only the market that dictates the relative degree of "fairness" they should present to make a profit.

At present, the market is so diversified in opinion on the matter that organizations such as FOX can operate without concern to their ideological bias because they are successful precisely because of such bias; they cater to market niches, and it can be to any aspect of the political spectrum. Don’t like it? Don’t watch, don’t read, don’t buy. It’s your choice.
 
Written By: An Individual
URL: http://sycron.redcardgroup.com
Domenich forgot about a present time .
Its a time of terrors and a wars.
 
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