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The right-wingers call it a "witch-hunt." The left-wing calls it "justice." Whatever you call it, blogger Ben Domenech and Washingtonpost.com both got what they deserved.
You have to wonder what the suits at washingtonpost.com were smoking when they decided to create a right-wing blog called "Red America" and then hire a 24-year-old wannabe book editor who brags about not being a journalist to write it. That was a shallow move by a so-called journalistic entity.
Domenech’s short-lived tenure at the Post’s web site came to an embarrassing end Friday when he resigned after the blogging community uncovered multiple cases of plagiarism by the youngster who works as an editor at the ultra-right-wing Regnary Press.. "Resigned" is Washington-speak for "fired."
"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," Domenech wrote Friday under his pen name "Augustine" on the RedState web site, the right-wing web diatribe he helped start. "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."
"Obfuscation." Domenech-speak for "I got caught and tried to weasel my way out of it." Didn’t work. Now he tries contrition. Too little too late.
The apologists at RedState say Domenech will take some needed time off from the web site. That’s their double-speak for banishment.
"Our critics can raise their glasses and toast to what they think is success – tearing down a flawed conservative," the RedState masters posted Friday. "But therein lies their greatest weakness: destroying a conservative is not to destroy conservatism. And while they put all their energy and venom into this campaign, it is worth remembering that for all the noise – they have yet to present a real alternative to an America that rests on the foundation of freedom, free markets and family. Against that, the only answer they have is yet another personal attack."
Ah, the hypocrisy of politics. It’s a personal attack when the other side does it. RedState like most partisan blogs on both sides of the political fence, exists primarily to attack the other side. Most of them, conservative or liberal, are too busy bashing each other to offer any "real alternatives."
RedState is where Domenech called Coretta Scott King, the late wife of Civil Rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King, a "communist." He later called the claim a joke but I’ve learned after too many years of dealing with the right-wing that most of them lack a sense of humor.
Domenech also claimed he used material originally written by author P.J. O’Rourke with O’Rourke’s knowledge and permission. That came as quite a shock to O’Rourke, who told The New York Times he had never heard of Domenech and did not remember ever meeting him.
"I wouldn’t want to swear in a court of law that I never met the guy," O’Rourke told The Times, "but I didn’t give him permission to use my words under his byline, no."
In Arlington, the suits at Washingtonpost.com scrambled to come up with a plausible-sounding explanation for their screwup while some of their own applauded the demise of Ben Domenech.
"Excuse me if I shed no tears over the elimination, in the first round, indeed practically at the opening tip-off, of the new social-conservative blog, Red America, written by this cat who claims his name is Ben Domenech," writes Post blogger Joel Auchenbach. "Apparently he saves time when writing by using words right off the shelf. Why produce customized writing when there are so many perfectly good words already crafted?
"Domenech is supposedly 24, but I’m betting right here and now that he’s a junior in high school," Auchenbach continues. "All this is under investigation. His blog, Red America, didn’t contain anything that would make someone think he was the second coming of William F. Buckley. Indeed, this whole affair seems like a spoof, a prank, to make all the real, authentic, rock-ribbed, hard-headed if perhaps slightly lizard-hearted conservatives look bad. [But of course they say that about the entire last 5 years of American government.]"
During an online chat session Friday, Post humor columnist Gene Weingargen observed: "Journalism is journalism, and you need people who have an idea what they are doing, even if they are just fulminating on the web."
Amen, but the message is lost with the bosses at Washingtonpost.com.
"In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to washingtonpost.com contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday," Washingtonpost.com executive editor Jim Brady wrote on the RedAmerica blog Friday. "An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately."
Brady continued: "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."
Sorry but the Post’s "journalistic integrity" went out the window when they (1) decided the web site needed a right-wing blog and (2) hired an amateur to write it.
It was a stupid move and the Post deserves all the shame that comes from such incredible stupidity.