An Ethics Wow: Maureen Dowd’s Strange, Bold, Honest—Chicken?—Absolute Bullseye New York Times Column About The Election And Its Aftermath [UPDATED]

archery_target

Op-ed writer Maureen Dowd, the New York Times’ Queen of Snark, is widely regarded as an arch-liberal, if an amusing one. During the campaign, however, she  emerged as an analyst who was not dissuaded from telling the truth and expressing deep displeasure with Hillary Clinton’s ethics. As the full-force assault on Donald Trump and Republicans by her employer and colleagues since November 8 has shown, this isn’t a safe stance to take on the flagship of biased American media.

Maybe that explains why Dowd took such a strange and circuitous route in today’s print column, in which she places what are obviously her own words and conclusions in the mouth of Kevin, her conservative, “affluent, educated suburbanite” brother, introducing the column as his, based on the barrage of pro-Trump gloating Dowd says she received at the hands of her Trump-supporting kin, which she calls her “own little basket of deplorables.”

It’s really Maureen’s column, of course, and I would have made her an Ethics Hero if she had only had the guts to own it unequivocally. That cavil aside, I gained a great deal of respect for Dowd through her writing this. She rose far above the vast  majority of her ideologically similar peers by doing so, and the nation and especially the Democratic party would be better off if angry liberals read it and accepted its truths as the icy dousing in unbiased reality they so obviously need in order to stop embarrassing themselves. Ethics Alarms and I, as it happens, didn’t need her analysis, since it literally matches what has been explained here for months. Still, I find it gratifying  that at least one prominent liberal pundit gets it, and had the integrity, sort of, to say so in the Times.

Please read Dowd’s whole column here. Here are a few of my favorite parts:

The election was a complete repudiation of Barack Obama: his fantasy world of political correctness, the politicization of the Justice Department and the I.R.S., an out-of-control E.P.A., his neutering of the military, his nonsupport of the police and his fixation on things like transgender bathrooms.

***

Preaching — and pandering — with a message of inclusion, the Democrats have instead become a party where incivility and bad manners are taken for granted, rudeness is routine, religion is mocked and there is absolutely no respect for a differing opinion…The rudeness reached its peak when Vice President-elect Mike Pence was booed by attendees of “Hamilton” and then pompously lectured by the cast. This may play well with the New York theater crowd but is considered boorish and unacceptable by those of us taught to respect the office of the president and vice president, if not the occupants.

***

If any of my sons had told me they were too distraught over a national election to take an exam, I would have brought them home the next day, fearful of the instruction they were receiving. Not one of the top 50 colleges mandate one semester of Western Civilization. Maybe they should rethink that.

***

The liberal media, both print and electronic, has lost all credibility. I am reasonably sure that none of the mainstream print media had stories prepared for a Trump victory. I watched the networks and cable stations in their midnight meltdown — embodied by Rachel Maddow explaining to viewers that they were not having a “terrible, terrible dream” and that they had not died and “gone to hell.”

Best of all..

And finally, to all the foreign countries that contributed to the Clinton Foundation, there will not be a payoff or a rebate.

And so on.

Wow.

Dowd introduces “her brother’s column” by citing a tweet she saw from her op-ed pal, arch-conservative-hater—I think that’s fair—Paul Krugman, who opined that “affluent, educated suburbanites” who voted for Trump are “fools,” adding, “What else is there to say?” For once I agree with Krugman on this narrow point, as several posts here illustrated. It is res ipsa loquitur irrational to gamble on placing an unqualified, unstable, ignorant and unethical man in the White House. There is a lot more to say, however, and Dowd deserves praise and respect for saying it.

UPDATE: I am shocked that some esteemed readers think I am pushing a conspiracy theory to suggest that this isn’t Maureen’s brother’s column, not Maureen herself. I assumed that the by-line settled that, plus the lack of quotation marks, the usual facetious tone in the introduction, the fact that Kevin writes exactly like his sister, and the use of the imaginary guest commentator as a device since the dawn of opinion columns. So let’s vote on it, shall we?

25 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

25 responses to “An Ethics Wow: Maureen Dowd’s Strange, Bold, Honest—Chicken?—Absolute Bullseye New York Times Column About The Election And Its Aftermath [UPDATED]

  1. charlesgreen

    MoDo, to her credit, frequently hands over her column to her (also) talented brother, one of the more articulate spokespersons for a more right-leaning point of view. This is not new for her.

    • I think she is always using him as a ventriloquist dummy. Strange that there are no quote marks, she still has the by-line, and he writes just like her! That’s not how you publish someone else’s column, Charles. There are too many characteristic Dowd snarkisms for me to buy it, which is why I object, mildly, to the form. If one of her knee-jerk colleagues objects, she can say, “Oh no! That wasn’t me! That’s my brother’s take!”

      • charlesgreen

        Wait – are you seriously suggesting that SHE is writing those lines, not her brother?!

        I have to confess, I am not big on conspiracy theories or paranoia, which is perhaps why that had never occurred to me.

        But now that you put that theory out there, I find – well, I still find it utterly ridiculous. Are you really serious?>

        • I’m amazed you think otherwise! The device of a columnist using a beard to present ideas from a particular viewpoint is older than Ben Franklin, who used the technique repeatedly. Wait: you really believe that Don Marquis had a pet cockroach guest columnist named archie who couldn’t use the shift key? That Saroyan’s monologues from his pal the bartender were really the sentiments of a bartender? It’s not a theory, it’s obvious, and I assume Maureen knows everyone knows that she doesn’t have a brother who write exactly like she does, with lines like…

          If your preferred candidate loses, there is no need for mass hysteria, canceled midterms, safe spaces, crying rooms or group primal screams. You might understand this better if you had not received participation trophies, undeserved grades to protect your feelings or even if you had a proper understanding of civics. The Democrats are now crying that Hillary had more popular votes. That can be her participation trophy.

          That’s Maureen through and through, and she’s not even trying to disguise it. Jeez, Charles, attributing a well-worn pundit device to a well-worn pundit is hardly a conspiracy theory!

          • charlesgreen

            Ha ha, well, we’re both amazed that each of us believes the opposite. Probably one of us is wrong.

            If I’m the wrong one, I’ll confess to naivete. But before I go, let me cite a couple of other people who apparently were conned – or is it that they’re in on the joke, and everyone gets it but me?

            First is Joe Scarborough, who wrote a whole column about one of brother Kevin’s guest columns:
            http://www.politico.com/story/2011/12/why-republicans-should-follow-the-dowd-doctrine-070947
            Scarborough: Dupe? Or in on the joke?

            Second is Kathleen Parker, who in reviewing MoDo’s book, mentions the two chapters by two of her siblings – Peggy, and Kevin. Is Peggy made-up too? Did MoDo continue the Don Marquis joke in her book as well as her column?
            Parker: Dupe? Or in on the joke?

            Third is Mo Rocca, who apparently interviewed Kevin, and cites him as saying:
            ““I’ve been married for 42 years to a registered Democrat,” Kevin laughed.”
            http://www.cbsnews.com/news/maureen-dowd-and-her-own-little-basket-of-deplorables/
            Now, it could be that MoDo hired an actor to impersonate her brother; but I tend to doubt it.
            Rocca: Dupe? Or in on the joke?

            There’s The American Spectator, who is either hopelessly duped or in on the joke? They say:
            “It is always good to know that at least one member of the Dowd family of Washington, D.C. has gotten the word. More to the point, Kevin Dowd, conservative brother of the New York Times‘ liberal columnist Maureen Dowd, not only gets it, he is not shy about making his point.”
            Hmm, doesn’t sound like they’re in on anything: but see for yourself at
            https://spectator.org/40342_fist-bump-kevin-dowd/

            Then there is a photo of MoDo’s Thanksgiving dinner table, with bro Kevin at the head of the table.
            Photoshopped? Alien Kevin?
            http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/opinion/king-kevin-versus-queen-cersei.html?_r=0
            NYTimes: Duped? Or in on the joke?

            Finally, the Washington Post. In its obituary for Maureen’s Mom, brother Kevin is listed as her sibling. Now I admit it is possible that that MoDo chose to continue her elaborate con by listing her Jerry Mahoney-like fictitious brother in her mother’s obit, but – Nah, I don’t think so.

            Now, I’m smart enough to know that Don Marquis made up the bit about Archy, even though he almost had me going with the lack of a shift key thing (very realistic, that detail, but I still caught on). So, I can be a skeptic too.

            I guess I suppose you might be arguing that MoDo does all the writing for her brother, and he just shows up to interviews, smiles and takes all the credit.
            Still, that’s a far cry from Franklin, Saroyan and Marquis – those were out and out tongue in cheek fictional inventions. Not nearly in the same league as, perhaps, editing her brother.

            • No, what she does is listen to her brother, adds her own thoughts, and translates them into a bearded column that gives her plausible deniability when Paul Krugman shows up. You’d have a hard time picking a group I’d be less likely to grant credibility to than Mo, Joe, and especially Kathleen Parker. You are the exception, as you often are.

              As Saroyan once titled one of his columns, “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.” Well, not everybody. I put up a poll on the question, and out of 29 votes so far, nobody has voted for the option that it’s definitely Kevin. Leading (barely) is that it doesn’t matter, Dowd is endorsing the view in the column.

              • charlesgreen

                “…assuming there really is a Kevin…” [quoted from your survey].

                Seriously!!?? You’re doubling down on this? Raising an existential question about her brother?!

                Do you really doubt her mother’s obituary? A photo in the Times? Her Christmas Times column in 2011 about her brother’s kidney cancer treatment?
                http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/28/opinion/kevin-warns-republicans.html

                This may seem like a trivial point, but in the midst of the Fake News debacle where it seems like those with right wing opinions are far more likely to believe BS claims, I suggest you shouldn’t play this fast and loose with the truth.

                It’s one thing to claim she edits her brother’s words – I can believe that. But to actually suggest he doesn’t exist, well, I think you carry enough weight with enough pepole that this is precisely the kind of lie (sorry, that’s what it is) that people are inclined to believe, positioned as it is in the midst of otherwise intelligent, erudite, sensible observations.

                It just ain’t true, Jack, and IMHO you shouldn’t be using the ‘aw shucks I’m just funnin’ around’ presentation of it.

                At this point, how many of your readers doubt that Maureen Dowd’s brother Kevin actually exists? Because if the answer is as you suggest, then there’s some serious reality-distortion fields going around.

                • No, I wrote the poll well before you throttled me with Kevinalia. I wouldn’t doubt that there’s a brother Kevin now…that there’s a brother Kevin who is as represented by Maureen is a separate issue. Like Phyllis Diller’s husband Fang, Danny Thomas’s wife, and many others through the decades, Kevin the Arch Conservative could be a fully consenting literary device. I’d say that’s more likely than Maureen publishing verbatim his column under her byline without quotes or material edits and editions.

                  And absent what I consider sufficient evidence that Kevin is what Dowd says he is, suggesting he is something else is neither a lie nor misleading. I think her device is confusing and cowardly, whether Kevin is what she claims or not. If this is her opinion, as I said, she should say so, unequivocally. That’s what matters. I don’t care about Kevin, and I don’t know why you do. She’s the pundit.

    • Eternal optometrist

      Just like Royko always quoted a lot from his friend slats grobnick. Any Royko fans?

  2. Wayne B

    If only she had had the guts to write the article under her own byline. Then again she would probably lose her cushy job at the New York Times and write articles instead for the National Review or American Spectator.

  3. “And finally, to all the foreign countries that contributed to the Clinton Foundation, there will not be a payoff or a rebate.”

    Heh heh heh heh heh.

    • My wife’s cousin’s husband, the intolerably annoying Leftist who won’t shut up…ever, who has turned Facebook into his own personal whine-column and hissy-fit fest, posted an article about how Trump MUST sell off all his businesses or step down from the Presidency because of this from the Constitution:

      Article I, Section 9.
      “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

      The loud mouth then goes on to say that Hillary would have been much preferred because she didn’t have these kinds of corruptions.

      I really wish I could post the emoji of the laughing face with tears spraying from his eyes….

      • Wayne B

        Well, technically she wasn’t in office when she received her “yuge” speaking fees from foreign governments. She was just a first lady and failure at Secretary of State. Maybe your wife’s cousin’s husband could consider a move to Canada though. Thanksgiving must have been difficult if he was present.

      • Your idiot cousin-in-law-in-law has a point, but not the one he thinks he does. Simply having a business does not make an emolument problem, I mean really…. I don’t expect presidents to take office as paupers (not even of the Clintonesque variety). ((Fuck you red line, that’s a word now.))

        But Trump IS going to have emolument issues if he keeps soliciting favours from foreign government officials on behalf of his businesses.

        Of little note are things like how the Bank of China is a tenant in his tower, and so he directly gets money from a foreign government through his business. (If he turns over his business as a blind trust, he’s fine… But shoe on the other foot for a second, if this was Hillary accepting money through the Clinton foundation, the digital ink would be a flyin’)

        Of much more serious consequence are things like how Trump reportedly asked (and received) approval for a building permit after meeting with the President of Argentina. A (weak) argument can be made that as president elect, he isn’t yet under the purview of the emolument clause…. But really… Is that where you want to hang your hat? Trump has two months to get his corruption out of the way? And again, other foot it for the second…. If you wouldn’t accept this from Hillary, you shouldn’t accept this from Trump.

  4. pennagain

    Am I the only one disturbed by the results of the poll? The majority – a slight one, but still …. said Who cares?, which is fine. I thought about ticking that one myself. But then She’s obviously endorsing those sentiments no matter who the writer is. Not possible. She would be endorsing if not directly oppositional sentiments then certainly arguable disagreement about them. Since the presence of Kevin or “Kevin” is used only as a backboard to bounce back her more alt-convictions, believing in what he (or “he” – okay that’s enough of that) said along with her own ideas would no longer be an op-ed piece; it would be truly schizoid.

    I voted for the last one. Jack’s arguments were convincing enough (the identical writing styles got me first), but the further I looked into it the more sound they became. The lack of quotation marks (in lax journalism, if not academia, is a common stylistic device these days, so can speaking one’s mind in another’s voice. Brother Kevin, as pointed out by other commenters, is no doubt real. Supposedly a salesman. [Keep that in mind] If those are supposed to be his actual words, I don’t believe it. No other media ever tried to get direct quotes from him, no interviews with him, no mention of him in interviews with Maureen or credit given outside the column (media collusion is plausible), no suggestions that he’s a coward not to come forward and say what he believes? In spite of his being quoted, by name, in a major column … not one link on the ubiquitous, ever-curious Internet? Not able, willing, nor in the least interested to write a counterpoint on anything Maureen says? Too shy? (A salesman too shy?) Totally invisible? Not nice, tough, clear- and right-thinking Republican enough to stand as a candidate for the Party? Hmmm.

    I have been in the past hooked into at least one national hoax personally: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Godby_Johnson. You think everyone, including major media can’t be fooled (or in on it?)? Most recently, for the complete success of an invented persona: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JT_LeRoy — watch the film here: http://thecultofjtleroy.vhx.tv/. No, I’m not suggesting Maureen Dowd is perpetrating a hoax, just that all of the people can be fooled sometimes and even by accident as with LeRoy and sometimes for centuries (take a serious look at the changes in the history books). In this case, yes I believe it’s all Dowd, and yes, I believe it doesn’t matter.

  5. Other Bill

    I think Maureen lets out her inner Irish common sense every once in a while under the guise of her brother Kevin. She’s never been a big HRC fan. I think Charles’ outrage at the thought Maureen might actually think like Kevin is indicative of what she’s hiding from from the likes of Paul Krazy Krugman.

  6. Spartan

    I seem to recall an NPR interview where she talked about her brother and the fact that he really does write these pieces.

    For what it is worth, it is not unusual for siblings to have similar writing styles — they have the same teachers, the same background, the same vocabulary from their parents, the same books that they shared as children. My sister and I even have interchangeable handwriting.

    • Let’s explore the distinctions between

      1. Having him write her column, which keeps its byline.
      2. Having her present his piece as as his opinion, without expressly saying if she concurs.
      3. Taking his work and, with his permission, editing it to be palatable to her, and maybe adding a snark or two,
      4. Writing a column encompassing their Thanksgiving table discussions, from his perspective, and crediting him while writing it herself, and

      5. Any of the hundreds of ghost-written columns by public officials, who also take the byline and don’t include quotes.

    • deery

      Her brother Kevin Dowd’s interlude offering is titled, “Is Trump the Hero or the Enema?” (ew), in which he explains why he’ll vote for the Republican. And sister Peggy Dowd, who had a passing, professional acquaintanceship with Trump, explains why she could never vote for Clinton. Neither does harm to Dowd’s reputation and each offers a perspective less clever but refreshingly straightforward. But wouldn’t we rather have had them write about their sister? What’s she really like? What kind of child was she? To her credit, Dowd fails to realize that she is the interesting material here.
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/maureen-dowd-is-back-to-skewering-the-clintons-this-time-with-a-side-of-trump/2016/09/23/994818d4-7f79-11e6-9070-5c4905bf40dc_story.html?utm_term=.ae8b8c39bedf

      I think it really seems to be her brother, and not a literary device.

  7. Here is more from Maureen Dowd.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/maureen-down-feminism-died-under-bill-clinton-190246356.html

    “Feminism sort of died in that period,” Dowd told Yahoo News Global Anchor Katie Couric on Monday. “Because the feminists had to come along with Bill Clinton’s retrogressive behavior with women in order to protect the progressive policies for women that Bill Clinton had as president.”

    • Isaac

      Dowd is predictably biased (and the inventor of the infamous “Dowdism”) but there’s an exception in that she really seems to personally dislike the Clintons.

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