Here's Maureen Dowd's explanation for how her column came to contain a 42 word passage -- commas and all -- lifted without attribution from Josh Marshall:
I didn't read his blog last week, and didn't have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now.
i was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent -- and I assumed spontaneous -- way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column.
but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me.
Here's what Marshall wrote:
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
And here's what appeared in the New York Times under Maureen Dowd's byline:
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
So, does it seem even remotely plausible that Maureen Dowd had a conversation with a friend in which the friend repeated 42 words written by Josh Marshall, and that Dowd later typed those 42 words perfectly, with the commas in the same place, from memory? Of course it doesn't. (And by the way: Even if you take Dowd's explanation at face value -- which you probably shouldn't -- she still has some explaining to do. Because based on Dowd's story, she didn't "weave" her friend's "idea" into her column; she passed her friend's thoughts off as her own, lifting them word-for-word.)
So how do you think Maureen Dowd would react if, say, Joe Biden ripped off a few dozen of someone else's words, then offered up an excuse this lame? Or if Al Gore did?