Ben Resigns

Ken AshfordRight Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

The controversy is over.  From Ben Domenech’s blog at Washington Post:

Ben Domenech Resigns

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately.

When we hired Domenech, we were not aware of any allegations that he had plagiarized any of his past writings. In any cases where allegations such as these are made, we will continue to investigate those charges thoroughly in order to maintain our journalistic integrity.

Plagiarism is perhaps the most serious offense that a writer can commit or be accused of. will do everything in its power to verify that its news and opinion content is sourced completely and accurately at all times.

We appreciate the speed and thoroughness with which our readers and media outlets surfaced these allegations. Despite the turn this has taken, we believe this event, among other things, testifies to the positive and powerful role that the Internet can play in the the practice of journalism.

We also remain committed to representing a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies in our Opinions area.

Jim Brady
Executive Editor,

I feel like singing the send-off song to "American Idol".  "You had a bad day…."

UPDATE:  Ben’s explanation is here back at the group blog he founded, Redstate.

Basically, he offers three explanations for three specific claims:

(1)  In one case, the plagiarism allegation is wrong, because he was the author of both pieces. [Frankly, I think Ben’s excuse here bears out.  So, he’s off the hook for ONE of the accusations].

(2)  In another case, P.J. O’Rourke gave Ben (then a 17 year old college student) "permission" to copy from his piece.

(3)  In another case, he was writing about an event where other reporters were present.  So, to Ben, "it is no surprise that we had similar quotes or similar descriptions of the same event."

Heh.  It wasn’t "similar decriptions", Ben.  Your descriptions were the same — almost verbatim.

Here’s what Ben wrote for the New York Press:

In his shirtsleeves, Frist got out of the car and sprinted onto the Capitol grounds, past police and camera crews, tourists and reporters, and into a ground-floor door. A security guard put his hand up to stop him, then realized who he was.

Here’s what the Washington Post wrote:

In his shirtsleeves, Frist gets out of the car and sprints onto the Capitol grounds, past police and camera crews, tourists and reporters, and into a ground-floor door.

A security guard puts his hand up to stop Frist, then realizes who he is.

I know plagiarism when I see it.

The Washington Post provides another example, which Domenech explains away with a lie:

Daily Kos, a Web site edited by liberal activist Markos Moulitsas, posted a comparison of Domenech’s National Review piece on the film "Final Fantasy" and a review by Steve Murray of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Domenech wrote:

"Translucent and glowing, they ooze up from the ground and float through solid walls, splaying their tentacles and snapping their jaws, dripping a discomfiting acidic ooze. They’re known as the Phantoms, otherworldly beings who, for three decades, have been literally sucking the life out of the earthlings of the human."

Murray had written:

"Translucent and glowing, they ooze up from the ground and float through solid walls, wriggling countless tentacles and snapping their jaws. They’re known as the Phantoms, alien thingies that, for three decades, have been sucking the life out of the earthlings of ‘Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.’ "

Domenech said he thought his piece appeared first, but a database review found that Murray’s review was published three days earlier.

As for the other accounts, Ben writes that "virtually every other alleged instance of plagiarism" came from his college writing day.  And finally, he claims that editors (specifically of the New Yorker) were inserting plagiarized material into his writing.  [UPDATE: His college editors also scoff at the accusation, as do the editors of National Review Online]

Aside from the laughability of the final excuse, please note the phrase "virtually every other alleged instance…".  For example, Ben does not explain the document examples of plagiarism here and here — both occurring when he was into his career as a writer.

So who does Domenech blame?  The left.  This is as close as he gets to an admission:

A less sloppy writer would have made sure that material copied from other places never made it into a published piece, and never necessitated apologies or explanations that will do nothing to stop the critics.

That’s it.  He was being "sloppy".  But it’s everybody else’s fault.

UPDATE:  Okay, finally he is contrite:

I want to apologize to National Review Online, my friends and colleagues here at RedState, and to any others that have been affected over the past few days. I also want to apologize to my previous editors and writers whose work I used inappropriately and without attribution. There is no excuse for this – nor is there an excuse for any obfuscation in my earlier statement.