In Defense Of Michelle Malkin

Initially, I was jazzed to see that Ben Domenech from Redstate was tapped to blog for the Washington Post. You see, I’ve long thought that the time would come when big papers and corporations would start raiding the blogosphere for talent. So, today it could be the WAPO picking up Domenech, but tomorrow it could be the LA Times grabbing Betsy Newmark or the Chicago Tribune offering Ann Althouse a pretty penny to guest blog. In other words, when one blogger succeeds on that level, it has the potential to create new opportunities for the rest of us.

Of course, the reverse is also true and when a blogger like Ben Domenech really blows it on a high profile gig, it hurts the rest of us, too, because it makes media and corporations more wary of bloggers. In Ben’s case, it turned out that he was a serial plagiarist who ripped off everyone from Jonah Goldberg to PJ O’Rourke.

Naturally, the Washington Post had to get rid of him and although Domenech didn’t immediately own up to what he did wrong, belatedly he admitted his guilt and apologized. It’s tempting to just give him credit for eventually doing the right thing and give things a little time to cool off. That’s because — although some people won’t agree — I don’t think a 24 year old kid should be branded with a scarlet “P” for the rest of his life. After all, Joe Biden committed plagiarism when he was a seasoned political veteran running for President in 1988 and now he’s talking about running again in 2008. If committing plagiarism at one point in your career doesn’t make you unfit to run for President, then it certainly doesn’t make you unfit to blog.

That being said, the reason I decided to weigh in on this topic was the infuriatingly immature attitude on display by some people over at Redstate. You see, apparently there were people who were terribly offended that Michelle Malkin correctly pointed out that Ben had engaged in plagiarism and then suggested that he resign his position with the WAPO.

There were not just one, but two recommended diaries over at Redstate this week-end aiming venom at Michelle for what — actually having the audacity not to blindly excuse Ben Domenech’s bad behavior?

Here’s an excerpt from one of them, called “Dear Michelle Malkin” from a “MrsNachos:”

“What you have managed to do, in the words of the infamous Beatles is to “get by with a little help from your friends.” Oh, sweetie, bless your heart, because that is coming to an end. In the south, they’d say you’ve shown your behind. Well, they’d use another word for it, but I’m enough of a lady not to say it. What you’ve done is sold out a friend for one article.

It’s not to say that I don’t see your motivation, love, because I do. I see that Ben helped you with one of your books, and, in all honesty, probably wrote all the funny parts because you and I both know it’s not your strong suit isn’t it, sweetpea? However, your little notes came out before you made it a point to talk to a FRIEND about what happened before you flapped the carefully sucked in jowls and screwed him over.”

Here’s an excerpt from another recommended diary this week-end called “Michelle Malkin: Dead to Me” by machiavel:

“I don’t agree with the positions taken by Rick Moran and Patrick Frey. But I can at least understand them. They don’t know Ben, so it’s easy for them to criticize a faceless blogger in order to take an abstract position against the monstrous actions he stands accused of. Misguided, yes. Treacherous, no.

It is entirely another matter, however, to know the man, to have worked with the man, and feel the irrepressible urge to show your fair-mindedness, to strut your reasonableness, to tell it like it is, sister! — friendship be damned. All this before your former colleague has had the opportunity to speak.

…Beware befriending Malkin. Because the moment something goes wrong, you will be thrown under the bus. You will be judged before you have a chance to speak. And whatever mea-culpa you offer will be judged inadequate for 120,000 readers to see.”

Newsflash, geniuses: Michelle was absolutely right and Ben was not only absolutely wrong, his huge flameout was so prominent that it was actually bad for blogging. If you want to be mad, be mad at Ben. He’s the one who handed the left a club to beat him with by plagiarizing article after article. He’s the one who put National Review in a position where they felt compelled to apologize to their readers for posting Ben’s plagiarized work.

Ben? I have some sympathy for him because we all make mistakes and the goofs we made when we were teenagers shouldn’t follow us our whole lives. But, people who are so keen to defend Ben’s behavior that they want to rip people who don’t give him a complete pass? That’s a different story. I had no sympathy for the Dems when they did it with Clinton and I have no sympathy for the conservatives doing it in this case. If you want to try make a case that plagiarism is OK when Ben does it, try to make that case, but otherwise, don’t jump on Michelle for applying the same ethical standards to Ben that she’d undoubtedly apply to a liberal in similar circumstances.

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