Friday, March 24, 2006

Domenech redux

Something that Jim Brady told Salon [via Atrios] caught my eye:
He explained that Post editors read "basically everything he'd written" during the past few years and spoke to many people who had previously worked with Domenech -- "both people he referred us to and people we found on our own," Brady said.

If so, then that means that they had to have read his Red State posts under the pen name Augustine, including Domenech's characterization of Coretta Scott King as a "Communist" (in commentary on her funeral, no less); he also said that judges were worse than the KKK, and called Post columnist Dan Froomkin an "embarassment" and "a lying weasel-faced Democrat shill ... I just have this specific and deep-rooted dislike for everything Dan Froomkin says and does. He's one of the dozen or so people in the world that I just detest ..." (See Alex Koppelman's rundown for a complete collection of Augustine's writings.)

Yet before he resigned, the Post's editors obtained from Domenech an abject apology for the King remark:
"I regret using the term because I think it's been way overblown," Domenech said. But he said King worked with organizations affiliated with communists in the 1950s and 1960s. Brady called it "a silly comment" but said he is satisfied with Domenech's admission of error.

So, which is it, exactly? Did the editors know about these "silly comments" and hire him anyway? Or had they somehow overlooked the Augustine posts? Could Domenech have been less than forthcoming with them about being Augustine?

Because the main thing these posts demonstrate, above everything else, is extraordinarily poor judgment. That alone should have raised red flags.

All this, of course, was well before plagiarism questions arose (and I'm not sure a standard background check would have found them anyway). But in addition to the red flags evident in the Augustine posts, there were others, particularly the clear evidence that he manufactured a quote he attributed to Tim Russert. Brendan Nyhan's piece discussing this was readily available through a simple Google.

All in all, the explanations for the Post's poor vetting process do not hold up.

No comments: