Well, That Was Quick

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Under a heavy barrage of plagiarism charges, The Washington Post's new conservablogger, Ben Domenech, has resigned.

Addendum: Blogger DHinMI at Daily Kos is annoyed by an omission in the post's announcement of Domenech's deparrture:

He just CAN. NOT. mention that it wasn't just generic "media outlets" that "surfaced these allegations." (And "surfaced these allegations?" What kind of crappy writing is that?) No, Brady can't admit that some bloggers and readers put in more due dilligence in vetting their quota hires than did the Washington Post. Like I said, crony journalism.

But that's not entirely fair to the Post: The truth at the core of much often-tiresome blog triumphalism is precisely that the Post probably couldn't have vetted anyone as effectively as a blogospheric swarm. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I assume it was something like this: When Domenech got hired, hundreds or even thousands of bloggers and blog readers began looking back at his previous work. Maybe someone saw a phrase they thought looked familiar and started Googling. Once the first instance of apparent plagiarism was spotted and blogged, thousands more began looking through that same body of writing, perhaps with each individual only checking a few pieces, a few phrases at a time. The same task would have taken a committed body of researchers days, but because the task was what Net theorist Yochai Benkler would call highly modular and granular—capable of being broken up into highly fine-grained microtasks—a distributed swarm of bloggers was able to accomplish it incredibly quickly, turning up many more instances in a matter of hours. The blogosphere's virtues on this front are not necessarily the Post's defects, any more than it's a problem with the blogosphere per se that it's less well suited to producing intensive, sustained investigative reporting on stories that aren't similarly modular and granular. They're different kinds of information systems with different comparative advantages.

Second Addendum: Domenech has a post up at RedState (where, incidentally, some of his cobloggers have been having a GodwinFest) attempting to explain some of the pieces he's accused of having plagiarized. On one, a music review for National Review Online, he gets a pretty clear pass since it turns out that he was the author of the un-bylined piece he was charged with ripping off. He says that the similarities between this New York Press article and this Washington Post piece are just the result of both reporters having attended the same press conference and written down the same description of events; I figure we should probably give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

Then we get to this piece written for William and Mary's college paper, largely lifted from P.J. O'Rourke's Modern Manners. Domenech says he'd gotten O'Rourke's O.K. to run a piece "inspired by" the humorist's take on "real parties." The problem here is, even if that's true, plagiarism isn't just wrong because it rips off the original writer; it's wrong because it deceives readers—and there's nothing I see on the student paper page to indicate to the reader that any part of the piece was written by anyone other than Ben Domenech. As for other suspect pieces that appeared in The Flat Hat, Domenech says the plagiarized material was inserted by an unscrupulous editor. Well… possible. I'd be interested to learn this editor's name and current whereabouts; it would be a very strange case if it were true.

But what's particualrly suggestive—and what makes me suspicious of this story about the nefarious editor—is that we get no attempt to explain the clear similarities between this National Review Online review of the movie Final Fantasy and a Cox News Service review of the same film, credited to one Steve Murray. Nexis confirms that the latter review ran first. Unless Domenech's nemesis from The Flat Hat somehow wormed his way into the NRO offices or "Steve Murray" is one of Domenech's pseudonyms, that one sure seems hard to explain. And if that's a genuine case… well, as I said, I'd like to hear from this cut-and-paste-happy editor from William and Mary.

Last One: I'll second Ezra Klein's suggestion here: If the Post is looking for a young socially conservative blogger, Ross Douthat (who, full disclosure, I know socially slightly) would be a good pick if he'd be willing to do it.

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  1. I thought blogging consisted mostly of plagiarism.

  2. I thought blogging consisted mostly of plagiarism.

  3. He really shouldn’t have begun his going away speech with “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not a crook.”

  4. Wow. I was just reading an article in today’s print edition of the WaPo about the controversy of this conservative blogger. Apparently he was hurting too many feelings.

    And within a few hours they can the guy. I guess it’s better that they have a ‘one mind’ environment where all the modern liberals can agree with each other.

  5. Nice Guy –
    Plagiarism, mothafucka, do you speak it?

  6. He resigned? What a pussy.

  7. It was particularly pathetic when he brought his dog “checkers” out to get sympathy.

  8. Well, he didn’t resign because he “hurt people’s feelings”; he resigned because he got caught habitually writing pieces that look a hell of a lot like they were clipped together from other people’s work without attribution.

  9. Baylen,

    Sorry, but, had to ask: did you know about that Southpark episode beforehand? I remember, on these very comment boards, you predicted the episode pretty damned accurately. Or are you just that good?

  10. Yeah, all those modern one-mind WaPo liberals like George Will and Charles Krauthammer and . . . Oh, fuck it. It just isn’t even worth any more.

  11. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d say the Post orchestrated this to discredit bloggers/republicans/republican bloggers, but that’s giving the Post waaaay too much credit.

  12. On the other hand, Ariana Huffington posted that blog entry which looked like George Clooney. Well, sure, it was her own site paid for with her own money, and she hadn’t been put up as a competitor to serious journalists. But still. It’s the same, people. THE SAME!

  13. Ariana Huffington posted that blog entry which looked like George Clooney

    I once wrote a poem that looked like a Christmas Tree. But that’s not what you meant, was it?

  14. Was that the real Cathy Young or the fake Cathy Young?

  15. On the other hand, Ariana Huffington posted that blog entry which looked like George Clooney. Well, sure, it was her own site paid for with her own money, and she hadn’t been put up as a competitor to serious journalists. But still. It’s the same, people. THE SAME!

    I dunno if taking somones past statements in different forms and pasting them together to look like a new opinion piece is “The same” as taking credit for other peoples work. Arriana didn’t take a bunch of Clooney’s posts and pretend they were her original work. (Not that what she did was better, but it wasn’t “the same”)

    She did apologize and fess up to it though.

    But what does pointing out that other bloggers might be doing similar things prove? That some bloggers are plagarists? The significance in this case is that a plagarist was hired to blog at the supposedly respectable Washington Post. The problem here isn’t mereley with the fact that Ben plagarized, its that the Post’s vetting process is either so weak that it couldn’t find this stuff out or that they didn’t really care to vet.

  16. Evan,

    I swear I had no foreknowledge. I just make lots of guesses and then pray someone remembers if I’m close to correct (and forgets when I’m not).

    For what it’s worth, I thought the episode kind of sucked. I watched it again last night and thought the same thing. It reminded me of the dreadful last episode of Seinfeld. All that was missing was Green Day with a string section.

  17. I always thought blogging consisted mostly of plagiarism. You know if I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d say the Washington Post orchestrated this to discredit Republicans, but that’s giving them way too much credit. For what it’s worth, I thought the episode kind of sucked.

  18. Just to let you guys know, I’ve finally started my own blog.

    I call it “Hit and Run.”

    Here’s the link.

  19. Maybe I’m too late to the barbecue, but did anyone ever find the work this guy supposedly did for Reason? Julian mentioned something about a piece he might have written for the mag as a pre-teen.

  20. At least one of the pieces he plagiarized from was a 1998 Washington Post story. Maybe for good measure the Post will sue the lad.

    William and Mary’s honor code addresses plagiarism and applies to student conduct both in the classroom and in school-sanctioned extracirricular activities like the student publications he wrote for. It’s fortunate for Domenech that he didn’t graduate; he doesn’t have a degree to lose.

  21. There’s always someone, somewhere, with a big nose who knows and who’ll trip you up and laugh when you fall.

    (Pretty clever, eh? I just came up with that about ten minutes ago, I swear…)

  22. Rhampton,

    I always thought…You….kind of sucked.
    😉

  23. “The same task would have taken a committed body of researchers days”

    Yeah, we can’t expect the Washington Post to take *days* to make sure its journalists are on the up-and-up.

  24. Derek-
    We’ve asked him to locate it for us.

  25. Julian, I must point out that, while the man said he’s written for Reason magazine, he never actually said that y’all accepted what he wrote.

    I once wrote a story for a science-fiction magazine; just because they rejected it is no reason to keep it off my resume, right?

  26. habitually writing pieces that look a hell of a lot like they were clipped together from other people’s work without attribution.

    As good a definition of blogging as any I’ve seen . . . .

  27. I also wrote an article for Reason when I was a pre-teen. Right around the same time that Ben Domenech did.
    I have it around here somewhere. I’ll keep looking for it. In the meantime, please continue to believe that I am a longtime contributer to Reason.

  28. Well, the plagiarism is pretty comical, but an equally valid problem was his lack of any sort of journalistic credentials.

    He’s a blogger. So what. I have a blog, and I don’t expect to land a job at a major newspaper anytime soon.

  29. I’m contributing to Reason right now! How many years of H&R posts until I can consider myself a “long-time contributor”?

  30. I think the real lesson to take away here is that both blogs and the big media suck. It’s the commenters that come up with pure comedy gold SNARKING about the blogs and the media that are awesome and informative.

    Let the era of the stodgy mainstreamed “blog” come to an end! Long live the rein of the horde of anonymous snarky commenters!

  31. Atrios postend this up — it seems to be an email from a former edit of Ben’s

    Hi —

    This all seems to have happened really fast. I hadn’t really checked the news til midday today when I saw all of this happened. It might be kind of moot now, but I was Domenech’s editor at The Flat Hat when he was writing the reviews. Four people, including me, would have handled his copy, the others being my assistant section editor, the managing editor and the editor.

    This should seem obvious, but no one on the editorial staff was going into Salon (or wherever) and pasting whole sections into his reviews. We were more concerned about getting the paper done so we could get home at 2 in the morning instead of 5. We may have put additional words in the story, but it would never have been completely foreign content. It was just editing.

  32. The plagiarized pieces weren’t blog postings, they were articles. NRO says they are checking his other writings that they have published.

    This event is another example of adversarial journalism being effective. Someone who disagrees with you is much more thorough at fact checking than someone who likes you.

  33. Plagiarizing The Smiths is double plus wrong.

  34. By and large, most editors I’ve ever had have tried to take things OUT of my pieces, not put other stuff in. Editors are largely trying to fit space, quality, and time deadlines. If they have to regularly embelish dry prose and add in whole sections of pieces, then its time to fire the writers and hire new ones that can actually write.

  35. While we’re comparing legacy media v. the blogs:

    Note where all the suspect pieces were published, and then note who discovered their suspectitude.

    When it comes to snarky nitpicking and character assasination, the blogosphere still rules.

  36. Man, this episode just gets funnier and funnier:
    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007996.php

    So, Ben believes that his sacrifice and martyrdom were all worth it because for a few brief days, he managed to get some lefty bloggers to focus on attakcing him…. instead of ATTACKING AMERICA. What a relief for America that will be!

  37. It’s disturbing — really, really disturbing — the extent of the tone at redstate with all the “enemy” and “attack” language, in reference to liberals and democrats. Do I dare even go look at all the crap they’re complaining about? I’ll accept as true that there’s an equally abhorrent army of democrat howler monkeys out there accusing Domenech of conspiring with the Third Reich and molesting more children than the Catholic church. Nothing surprises me.

    For the life of me I cannot grasp what any of them get out of the poo-flinging Dem/GOP shitfest, but man, these people have WAAAAAYYYY too fucking much ego invested in their teams.

    So… is it true that on these blogs the Dems and Repugs still just sit there all day calling each other pussies and Nazis?

  38. Dems and Repubs are organizations for the stupid and/or evil. Why are you surprized?

    Just thought I’d be a dick like them. ; p

  39. While I’m thinking of it:

    isn’t most left-vs-right style Politically-Themed Entertainment Product ™ just a matter of copy-pasting talking points anyway? Given that, how is plagiarism a sin?

    What does it matter if he’s not saying anything original? Neither he, nor his supporters, nor his detractors, say anything original anyway, so who cares?

  40. The whole question of what’s plagiarism and what isn’t in the world of journalism is defined mostly by pretty self-serving rules:

    Paraphrasing or publishing some press release or other without attribution – par for the course, not plagiarism.

    Paraphrasing or restating something said by some nobody you interviewed without attribution – par for the course, not plagiarism.

    Lifting a phrase from a Fellow Journalist – break out the torches and pitchforks, boys!

  41. Originality is a hoax on the unlettered.

  42. What I love is how the folks over at RedState are lambasting the hell out of the “liberal left” for Mr. Domenech’s faux pax. One of my favorites was stating that it occured because the “liberals own WaPo.”

    Yes, that makes perfect sense. Alienate my paying customers by hiring a blogger of the exact opposite political view and then further alienate them by exposing my weak vetting process. Yes, perfect sense.

  43. Wow, this flameout was truly quality.

    I’m waiting for Glenn Reynolds to post the triumphant Army of Davids post pointing to how great it is that this hack was taken down, and for the smug Powerline spin about how hiring a creationist word-stealer is proof of the media’s shadowy liberal slant.

  44. Where’s our Friday Fun Link?

  45. SR,
    I think this was it.

    I had fun reading RedState’s regulars lambast the ‘liberal media’ and the board moderators banning folks left and right. Not sayin’ it was justified, just sayin’ I enjoyed it.

    What a bunch of pussies over there though. I am glad that we can flame each other (not that we do very often) and cuss up a motherfucking storm if we want on this blog.

  46. I am so PUMPED!!!
    I just realized that by virtue of my participation on the comment boards, I can truthfully say in my resume that I have been a frequent contributor to both Slate and Reason Magazines.

    Nick has even used my suggestions for blog entries. Hmmm? Do you think I could get a letter of recommendation on Reason Letterhead?

  47. “SR, I think this was it.”

    Having now clicked through to the RedState link, I have to agree. The following post by “HoosierTeacher” is the funniest thing I’ve read in months:

    Ben

    In combat great people (we call them heros) sometimes get injured and have to be withdrawn. Before you (and your family and the Post) were further injured you were able to drag yourself away from the battlefield.

    In Christendom great people (we call them martyrs) stand for truth and get killed for it. Your voice in a dark world was a threat to the darkness and it felt compelled to silence you.

    At RedState we have great people (we call them family) who yearn for truth, love of country, and a philosophy that we are all in this epic struggle together.

  48. Plagiarizing The Smiths is double plus wrong.

    RB, What Difference Does it Make?

  49. As a supposedly rabid crazy leftist who just hates conservatives so much that they’d complain about anyone who’d get a spot at the Post, I’d be perfectly happy with Ross Douthat. He’s a great and interesting writer. We couldn’t be more different in worldviews… but he’s not a smug asshat. That’s all we ask.

  50. Can I just say: Holy Shit is that ripoff of PJ O’Rourke brazen! I’d be surprised if there are twenty words different (he didn’t even bother to change the George Bush reference, which was current when GHWB was VP). Just for kicks, I may go through and count later.

  51. He’s now admitted that he plagiarized and also apologizes for any “obfuscation” (i.e. lying)- http://www.redstate.com/story/2006/3/24/231559/931 . No mention of a good republican cloth coat.

  52. Well the Right of the blogosphere can claim to take down: Dan Rather, Trent Lott, and Eason Jordan (technically)

    The Left can now claim: Ben Domenech the Wingnut Who Shat on The Washington Post
    Blue Team America, Holla!

    Libertarian blogoshpere, where is our scalps?

  53. Yes, the right-wing blogosphere took down Dan Rather by forcing him to retire on the date that he had already set for his retirement before the controversy took place. Sort of like that Bob and Ray sketch about the 20-year crusade to prove that the government executed a guilty man.

    I think this is actually an interesting development in that it’s the first time the lefty blogosphere has really pummelled an MSM outlet into submission (the WP website is still part of the WP, no matter what Deborah Howell now says). The media outlets are so used to doing whatever Bush or Rush or Powerline tells them that they don’t understand that liberals hate the “MSM” almost as much.

    Hiring Domenech was a classic example of the screw-ups MSM outlets make when they try to add right-wing “balance”: picking a partisan Republican operative who wasn’t a real journalist; buying into the dumbass Red State/Blue State division that hasn’t been operative since 2004; assuming that Dan Froomkin must be a liberal because he’s anti-Bush (which buys into the right-wing spin that one is “liberal” to the extent that one disapproves of Bush). But they didn’t expect to be called on this terrible hire because to the MSM, media criticism can come only from the right. They need to realize that they’ve got as much to fear from the left, because the left thinks the MSM has internalized right-wing frames and twists the truth to appease those in power (which, frankly, is true: the MSM has become a power-worshipping cult).

    Oh, and Powerline finally weighs in by complaining that the WP seems to want to find a new blogger who is a journalist rather than someone from “Republican politics.” They are so hacktackular that they literally do not understand why a real journalist is preferable to a party political activist — which explains their own work very well.

  54. M.A.,

    “The media outlets are so used to doing whatever Bush or Rush or Powerline tells them that they don’t understand that liberals hate the “MSM” almost as much.”

    Huh?

  55. Frank A, that was a convoluted sentence. To clarify: for the last few years, outlets like the Post have constantly bowed to criticism from the right. We saw it just recently when various hosts and editors were seriously discussing the right-wing criticism that they don’t report “good news from Iraq” — even though their own journalists in Baghdad know damn well that the news from Iraq is worse than they’re allowed to report. The media constantly internalizes and accepts right-wing criticisms as legitimate. The favorite right-wing tactic is to introduce a bogus story and beat up on the MSM until they agree to cover this bogus story (see Truth, Swift Boat Veterans For).

    But liberals criticize these same outlets as much as or more than conservatives do. Liberals have a host of complaints about MSM coverage, from their over-hyping of Whitewater, to Judith Miller’s WMD coverage, to the unwillingness to report seriously on the problems with Bush’s case for war, to the portrayal of the Abramoff scandal as bipartisan, etc., etc. But the MSM almost never responds to criticisms from the left, and to some extent they don’t even seem to understand that their work could be perceived as biased toward the right (or at least re-enforcing right-wing frames). Almost every prominent liberal blogger considers the MSM biased against liberals to some extent, but the MSM doesn’t seem to notice. The Domenech thing was their rude awakening.

  56. We saw it just recently when various hosts and editors were seriously discussing the right-wing criticism that they don’t report “good news from Iraq” — even though their own journalists in Baghdad know damn well that the news from Iraq is worse than they’re allowed to report.

    See, if I were an editor, I’d give the critics what they want for a few days. I’d dedicate a special section of the paper entirely to the wonderful things that happened during the several hours of uninterrupted electricity, the very nice school supplies that Sgt. Smith’s mother sent to a school in Basra, and a complete listing of towns in which nobody was killed by insurgents. I’d show off the “good news” in all of its pathetic lack of splendor.

  57. This just in: For 3 consecutive years there have been no work-related injuries at Iraq’s oil rigs!

  58. Nuts to that “good news” crap. Can you imagine how much gore the MSM must be protecting us from? Every time a bomb goes off or they find some heads or a pile of people shot, that stuff never makes it on the news except for an sterile sentence or two. I’m sure there’s lots of pictures and video.

    Well, the good news for Ben is he can finally enlist.

    Hahahahhahhahha.

    $5 says we’ll see Ben again in some future Bush administration. Maybe Jeb’s? Or that hispanic nephew. These guys are like Keith Richards and roaches. They can’t be killed.

  59. Sorry, Douthat won’t do.

    “Brady said the site picked Domenech for two reasons: he’s conservative and provocative” http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/03/24/brady

    Douthat is conservative, to be sure, but he is too polite to be “provocative.” In other words, he’s not an asshole. This obviously disqualifies him.

  60. I find myself puzzled by the attitudes over there at redstate when it comes to criticism of Ben.

    If someone says “Dude, you shouldn’t have lied in your first post, you should have come clean”, it does not matter if they are friggin’ Michelle Malkin, they are “piling on”.

    This is the line that made my jaw drop:
    “You’ve made your point clearly: impressing the left with our bonafides is more important than loyalty to friends.” The post goes on to threaten to ban the guy.

    It’s almost as if it is impossible to find fault with what Ben did without wanting to destroy the Republican Party’s Netroots.

    It takes me back to 1998, honestly.

  61. What Difference Does it Make?

    It makes none?

  62. “Well the Right of the blogosphere can claim to take down: Dan Rather, Trent Lott, and Eason Jordan (technically)

    The Left can now claim: Ben Domenech the Wingnut Who Shat on The Washington Post”

    I think “the Left” could also claim Michael Savage, who was forced to resign after telling a gay caller to his show that he hoped the caller would choke to death on a sausage.

  63. Savage resigned? Then who was that moron I heard on the radio last night with an identical voice saying the identical things?

    Oh, a plagiarizer.

  64. Savage had a TV show on MSNBC for a while, which is where he made his comments; there was a big stink and the show was cancelled shortly after.

  65. Ah, thanks. I don’t follow TV much so I missed the opportunity to have my intelligence insulted in two separate media.

  66. It makes none?

    Well I’m still fond of you.

  67. republican vs democrat is becoming overly moronic. maybe someday the media will report how neither political party represents their constituents.

  68. Well I’m still fond of you.

    Oh, ho, hoooo

  69. It’s worth noting that Ben has now owned up to what he did, instead of denying it or blaming it on others. While I’m not sure he had any other choice at this point, that’s at least the right move.

    And, of course, unlike Glass or Blair, I’m sure he’ll have a bright future in conservative politics regardless of how unethical he is.

  70. And, of course, unlike Glass or Blair, I’m sure he’ll have a bright future in conservative politics regardless of how unethical he is.

    Nah – he’ll become a syndicated talk radio host; every day we’ll get to hear mental midgets telling him what a great, patriotic American he is…

  71. It’s worth noting that Ben has now owned up to what he did, instead of denying it or blaming it on others. While I’m not sure he had any other choice at this point, that’s at least the right move.

    And, of course, unlike Glass or Blair, I’m sure he’ll have a bright future in conservative politics regardless of how unethical he is.

    Comment by: plunge at March 25, 2006 11:11 PM

    Considering that even conservative net-matriarch, Michlle Malkin, has even come down hard on his plaigarism, it may be harder for Ben to come back than you think. Well, at least in writing open polemics.
    I figure being “nameless political operative #5” will be his position for a while because his efforts at lying to the whole conservative industry was widespread and systematic…

  72. Just found this on National Review, they’re bluntly disassociating themselves from Ben’s work. Ouch:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/06_03_19_corner-archive.asp#093312

    A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS [The Editors]

    As the previous links on the matter mention, at least one of the pieces Ben Domenech is accused of having plagiarized was a movie review for National Review Online. A side-by-side comparison to another review of the same film speaks for itself. There is no excuse for plagiarism and we apologize to our readers and to Steve Murray of the Cox News Service from whose piece the language was lifted. With some evidence of possible problems with other pieces, we’re also looking into other articles he wrote for NRO.

    UPDATE: More here.

    ………………………………..

    DOMENECH, CONTINUED [The Editors]

    As we mentioned in our earlier editor’s note, staff here at National Review Online are going through all of the pieces Ben Domenech has written for us (the most recent of which appears to have been published in 2002) in light of questions raised in the wake of the debut of his “Red America” blog this week on the Washington Post’s website (from which he has since resigned).

    Our review unfortunately raises questions about several other pieces besides the one we apologized for this morning.

    To give you a feel for what our staff has found:

    ? In a movie review of Pay It Forward on the weekend of October 21-22, 2000, Domenech writes:

    ?Pay It Forward is exactly the type of film that the casual moviegoer will love, and critics will pan.

    In a October 18, 2000, review of Pay It Forward on “the flick filosopher” website, writer Maryann Johanson writes:

    This is a film the studio knows casual moviegoers will love and critics will not?

    Here’s more from the same review. Ben Domenech writes:

    Most kids come up with plans to put up recycling flyers or clean up the neighborhood, but Trevor’s idea astounds even his teacher?

    Maryann Johanson writes:

    Most kids come up with plans to post flyers about recycling and such, but Trevor’s brilliantly simple idea astounds even his teacher?

    Domenech:

    ?when the naively youthful Osment is asked whether the plan might be ‘overly utopian,’ relying as it does on an act of faith in ‘the goodness of people,’ the boy’s wonderfully optimistic reply is, ‘So?’

    Johanson:

    Eugene wonders if the plan might be ‘overly utopian,’ relying as it does on ‘an act of faith in the goodness of people,’ and Trevor’s naively childlike and wonderfully optimistic reply is, ‘So?’

    Here are two graphs from the two pieces side-by-side. Domenech:

    But it isn’t the script that makes this movie: it’s the performances. Helen Hunt, Osment’s alcoholic mother, may not have the chemistry with Spacey we’re supposed to believe she has (the boy tries to set the two of them up), but she is very believable as a woman just barely holding herself together. Watching Hunt, you see what Julia Roberts was trying to do with her role in Erin Brockovich; bottle blond, with a cheap perm and garish makeup, Hunt lets herself look like hell, and pulls off an award-worthy study in trailer trash. Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire, Go) is smarmy, charming, and pulls it off like only he (and maybe Bill Murray) can. Jim Caviezel is great as always, with a relatively small role as a timid, shy vagrant. And Jon Bon Jovi, who’s only in three scenes, seems to have a knack for playing drunk jerks.

    Johanson:

    The only thing that makes Pay It Forward worth seeing, in fact, are marvelous performances by the entire cast. Helen Hunt may not have the chemistry with Spacey we’re supposed to believe she has (Trevor tries to set up his mom with his teacher), but she is depressingly believable as a woman just barely holding herself together, and, in full-on Erin Brockovich mode — bottle-blond, with a cheap perm and garish makeup — she dares to let herself look like hell. Jay Mohr does smarmy charm better than anybody since Bill Murray. Jim Caviezel is starting to prove himself a chameleon, disappearing into his timid, shy vagrant.

    Domenech says that Pay It Forward has an “inexcusably exploitative ending.”

    Johanson says the movie is ruined by its “inexcusably exploitive ending.”

    The Pay It Forward review is the worst of what we’ve found.

    We?ve also found some smaller examples.

    ? In a review of 3000 Miles to Graceland (February 24-25, 2001, “NRO Weekend”), Domenech writes of Kurt Russell’s “studded good-guy white jumpsuit.”

    Jane Sumner, writing in the Dallas Morning News on January 22, 2001, talks about Russell’s “studded good-guy white Elvis jumpsuit.”

    Domenech, again, in his 3000 Miles to Graceland review writes: “?Russell, he kicked Elvis Presley in the shins in his film debut (It Happened at the World’s Fair, in 1963)?”

    Sumner writes: “Kurt kicked The King in the shins in It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)?”

    ? In a review of a Wallflowers CD appearing on the October 28-29, 2000, edition of “NRO Weekend,” Domenech writes:

    Dylan’s songs are rich with images and anecdotes, telling tragic stories of romance on its painful last gasps; stories of mourners and murderers, sons who’ve been told they’d never amount to anything, and “flowers that bloom dead.”

    In a Rolling Stone review on October 3,2000, Tom Moon writes: that the songs on the CD are “accounts of romance that is not quite dead but on its painful last gasps.”

    You get the idea. Put alongside other pieces that we’re looking at and that have been linked to elsewhere in the blogosphere, it’s hard not to conclude there was something amiss.

    We’re still looking. And again apologize to our readers that this ever happened on our site.

    Posted at 08:27 PM

  73. Just found this on National Review, they’re bluntly disassociating themselves from Ben’s work. Ouch:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/06_03_19_corner-archive.asp#093312

    A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS [The Editors]

    As the previous links on the matter mention, at least one of the pieces Ben Domenech is accused of having plagiarized was a movie review for National Review Online. A side-by-side comparison to another review of the same film speaks for itself. There is no excuse for plagiarism and we apologize to our readers and to Steve Murray of the Cox News Service from whose piece the language was lifted. With some evidence of possible problems with other pieces, we’re also looking into other articles he wrote for NRO.

    UPDATE: More here.

    ………………………………..
    http://corner.nationalreview.com/06_03_19_corner-archive.asp#093326

    DOMENECH, CONTINUED [The Editors]

    As we mentioned in our earlier editor’s note, staff here at National Review Online are going through all of the pieces Ben Domenech has written for us (the most recent of which appears to have been published in 2002) in light of questions raised in the wake of the debut of his “Red America” blog this week on the Washington Post’s website (from which he has since resigned).

    Our review unfortunately raises questions about several other pieces besides the one we apologized for this morning.

    To give you a feel for what our staff has found:

    ? In a movie review of Pay It Forward on the weekend of October 21-22, 2000, Domenech writes:

    ?Pay It Forward is exactly the type of film that the casual moviegoer will love, and critics will pan.

    In a October 18, 2000, review of Pay It Forward on “the flick filosopher” website, writer Maryann Johanson writes:

    This is a film the studio knows casual moviegoers will love and critics will not?

    Here’s more from the same review. Ben Domenech writes:

    Most kids come up with plans to put up recycling flyers or clean up the neighborhood, but Trevor’s idea astounds even his teacher?

    Maryann Johanson writes:

    Most kids come up with plans to post flyers about recycling and such, but Trevor’s brilliantly simple idea astounds even his teacher?

    Domenech:

    ?when the naively youthful Osment is asked whether the plan might be ‘overly utopian,’ relying as it does on an act of faith in ‘the goodness of people,’ the boy’s wonderfully optimistic reply is, ‘So?’

    Johanson:

    Eugene wonders if the plan might be ‘overly utopian,’ relying as it does on ‘an act of faith in the goodness of people,’ and Trevor’s naively childlike and wonderfully optimistic reply is, ‘So?’

    Here are two graphs from the two pieces side-by-side. Domenech:

    But it isn’t the script that makes this movie: it’s the performances. Helen Hunt, Osment’s alcoholic mother, may not have the chemistry with Spacey we’re supposed to believe she has (the boy tries to set the two of them up), but she is very believable as a woman just barely holding herself together. Watching Hunt, you see what Julia Roberts was trying to do with her role in Erin Brockovich; bottle blond, with a cheap perm and garish makeup, Hunt lets herself look like hell, and pulls off an award-worthy study in trailer trash. Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire, Go) is smarmy, charming, and pulls it off like only he (and maybe Bill Murray) can. Jim Caviezel is great as always, with a relatively small role as a timid, shy vagrant. And Jon Bon Jovi, who’s only in three scenes, seems to have a knack for playing drunk jerks.

    Johanson:

    The only thing that makes Pay It Forward worth seeing, in fact, are marvelous performances by the entire cast. Helen Hunt may not have the chemistry with Spacey we’re supposed to believe she has (Trevor tries to set up his mom with his teacher), but she is depressingly believable as a woman just barely holding herself together, and, in full-on Erin Brockovich mode — bottle-blond, with a cheap perm and garish makeup — she dares to let herself look like hell. Jay Mohr does smarmy charm better than anybody since Bill Murray. Jim Caviezel is starting to prove himself a chameleon, disappearing into his timid, shy vagrant.

    Domenech says that Pay It Forward has an “inexcusably exploitative ending.”

    Johanson says the movie is ruined by its “inexcusably exploitive ending.”

    The Pay It Forward review is the worst of what we’ve found.

    We?ve also found some smaller examples.

    ? In a review of 3000 Miles to Graceland (February 24-25, 2001, “NRO Weekend”), Domenech writes of Kurt Russell’s “studded good-guy white jumpsuit.”

    Jane Sumner, writing in the Dallas Morning News on January 22, 2001, talks about Russell’s “studded good-guy white Elvis jumpsuit.”

    Domenech, again, in his 3000 Miles to Graceland review writes: “?Russell, he kicked Elvis Presley in the shins in his film debut (It Happened at the World’s Fair, in 1963)?”

    Sumner writes: “Kurt kicked The King in the shins in It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963)?”

    ? In a review of a Wallflowers CD appearing on the October 28-29, 2000, edition of “NRO Weekend,” Domenech writes:

    Dylan’s songs are rich with images and anecdotes, telling tragic stories of romance on its painful last gasps; stories of mourners and murderers, sons who’ve been told they’d never amount to anything, and “flowers that bloom dead.”

    In a Rolling Stone review on October 3,2000, Tom Moon writes: that the songs on the CD are “accounts of romance that is not quite dead but on its painful last gasps.”

    You get the idea. Put alongside other pieces that we’re looking at and that have been linked to elsewhere in the blogosphere, it’s hard not to conclude there was something amiss.

    We’re still looking. And again apologize to our readers that this ever happened on our site.

    Posted at 08:27 PM

  74. Will someone please tell me why these people even think they will get away with it? Interesting even Putin seems to be a part of this trend. I vote for Jonah Goldberg.

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