The Ben Domenech Scandal

See End of Article for an Update 

Usually I reserve these kinds of posts for my weekly wrap ups, however, this one scandal has caught fire in such a way that I’d be remiss not to cover it, at least briefly, right now.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post hired Ben Domenech, a prominent conservative blogger and co-founder of the site RedState, to write for their new Red America blog. Red America was to be a conservative blog on the Washington Post’s site, leading many to hypothesize that it was to bring balance to a newspaper that is traditionally seen as liberal.

However, almost as soon as his hiring was anounced, various blogs began to attack Domenech. Though many of the allegations were the usual political attacks, some bloggers began to post evidence that he had plagiarized previous works and the allegations quickly caught fire.

According to the allegations, Domenech repeatedly plagiarized while serving as a columnist at the William & Mary student paper, The Flat Hat.  Accusations also surrounded a review he had written for the National Review Online and quotes from Senator Frist he used in a New York Press Article.

Domenech, originally defiant in the face of the accusations, resigned from his Washington Post job today, despite the fact the paper’s investigation into the claims is"pending". Later, RedState announced that Domenech will be continuing to work with them and offered him their support.

For his part, Domenech posted an article on RedState defending himself. In it he said that the National Review Online accusations were false because he had written both articles and explained that he heard the Sen. Frist quotes at a news conference which he attended, "along with many other reporters." As for the alleged plagiarism at The Flat Hat, he had this to say: 

"I once caught an editor at the paper inserting a line from The New Yorker (which I read) into my copy and protested. When that editor was promoted, I resigned. Before that, insertions had been routinely made in my copy, which I did not question. I did not even at that time read the publications from which I am now alleged to have lifted material. When these insertions were made, I assumed, like most disgruntled writers would, that they were unnecessary but legitimate editorial additions."

The Flat hat has also posted an update to one of their pieces involved in the controversy saying that it was inappropriately attributed and that it was a printing error "not due to any misconduct or negligence by the writers."

In the end, the validity and seriousness of the accusations are yet to be fully determined and, though the repercussions have already been felt, there is clearly much room for development in this case. I will be following it closely over the next few days/weeks and will follow up with what I find out.

***Update 3/25***

In what is, perhaps, the final twist of the Ben Domenech story, Domenech offered an apology on RedState that contradicts his previous post defending himself . In his apology, he said in part:

"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."

RedState has posted a statement of their own saying that Domenech will be taking a leave of absence from the site to "get away from this" and offering personal support for him calling him a "fundamentally good" person and a "friend’.

While this certainly isn’t the end of the ordeal, it certainly puts us a lot closer to the truth.  

[tags]Plagiarism, Ben Domenech, Washington Post, RedState, Content Theft, Copyright Infringement, GOP, Conservative, Liberal[/tags]


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