Dowd in Derry

Or Maybe Not

Props to Greg Sargent of Talking Points Memo for digging this up: Maureen Dowd’s New Hampshire morning-after column was probably written in Jerusalem, despite trumpeting the words “DERRY, NH” right up top.

Dowd opens her Wednesday column with Monday morning scenes from her New York Times office, suggesting any Derry-visit took place on Sunday at the latest. That means that the key scenes from New Hampshire—the debate, the misty moment, a Bill Clinton event, and color from the victory party—almost certainly came after her departure to cover the President’s Middle East visit. (And, in any case, none happened in Derry.)

The New York Times has acknowledged that the people-on-the-scene quotes from Clinton’s victory party were collected by an assistant, as is common practice. And they’re defending the bylining as totally kosher, claiming she’d been in Derry, for some time, at some point.

Well, okay. But if the in-house rules allow—indeed, sanction—such easy manipulation, what good could they be? And let’s consider the content of the column; why should I care where Dowd writes about Clinton’s “self-pity” and “need to prove her masculinity,” or how she was “like a heroine in a Lifetime movie”? These are pop-psychology gleanings, not insights from in-person reporting; they don’t require a pilgrimage to Jerusalem—or Derry.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.