Robin Toner: Just As Good the Second Time Around

In writing our blog report this morning, we came upon what struck us at the time as an unusually astute and polished piece of writing about recent congressional history from the “Grand Ledge Royals” blog, which we quoted approvingly.

Now we learn that the paragraph was originally written by the New York Times’ Robin Toner, deep into the jump of a page one story this morning about the indictment of Tom DeLay.

Thanks to the work of an astute reader who spotted the cut and paste job and shot us an email, we present the paragraph again:

Eleven years ago, the Republicans took control of Congress — breaking a 40-year Democratic reign in the House — by campaigning as reformers out to derail a Democratic machine that Mr. Gingrich described as endemically, irredeemably corrupt. In fact, as the 1994 election approached, the Democrats endured several ethics scandals, including the fall of a speaker, a majority whip and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

What’s more, in a piece of the blog post we didn’t quote, also lifted whole were two more paragraphs of Toner’s piece, as follows:

In the 10th anniversary issue of The Weekly Standard last month, Andrew Ferguson lamented the “ease with which the GOP stalwarts commandeered the greasy machinery of Washington power.

Conservative activists came to Washington to do good and stayed to do well,” Mr. Ferguson said. “The grease rubbed off, too.”

Generally, we cut bloggers a fair amount of slack, because most of them don’t pretend to be anything but zealous amateurs. But plagiarism is plagiarism, whether you’re a reporter for a big-time newspaper or the proprietor of a small blog.

As for the estimable Ms. Toner, we enjoyed her piece — both times we read it.

Paul McLeary

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Paul McLeary is senior editor of Defense Technology International magazine, and is a former CJR staffer.