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The New Yorker’s Love/Hate Relationship With Labash

Remember when Jeffrey Toobin, writing in the New Yorker, had to confess in June that he should have given a “shout-out” to Weekly Standard’s Matt Labash for Labash’s previous reporting on Toobin’s topic (Roger Stone)?

Well, call us a conspiracy theorist but, from the look of things, it sure looks like the New Yorker — this time in the form of Peter J. Boyer – might need to issue another shout-out to Labash.

Join us after the jump for the details.


We should make sure to note at the outset: As was the case with Toobin, Boyer certainly isn’t guilty of plagiarism, but a hat tip or two might have been nice (and to be fair: Boyer is hardly the only MSM member who ought to be hat-tipping far more than they currently do…):

Exhibit A: Boyer’s new piece, “The Appalachian Problem: Obama goes to rural Virginia.”

The most offending example is this (re: political consultant Mudcat Saunders):

    Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist who has worked for McCain, has called Saunders’s approach “one-third true, two-thirds hokum,” but Saunders’s methods have proven merit.

Boyer covers his ass with the “has said” line, but that quote is also in Labash’s 2005 piece on Mudcat:

    While Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, speculates that Mudcat and Jarding will “probably be ignored” by their party, he calls their line “one-third true, two-thirds hokum.

A LexisNexis search indicates that Labash’s piece is the only place Murphy’s quote has appeared, so it’s rather obvious that Boyer has read Labash’s work.

The other examples aren’t flagrant and clearly seem independently obtained by Boyer (and Mudcat recycles his own quotes on a regular basis), but it sure seems like Labash’s earlier work (in his 2005 piece and another one in June of this year) in could have provided some thematic cues for subsequent profiles. And, given the above example and the New Yorker’s earlier example of being huge fans of — but not exactly hat-tipping — Labash, consider our heads scratched.

The colorful quotes
:

Mudcat in New Yorker piece:

    Since the dawn of time, the big sons of bitches kicked the little sons of bitches’ ass.

Mudcat in Labash’s 2005 piece:

    “Because since the beginning of time, the big sonofabitch has kicked the little sonofabitch’s ass,” he says.

The colorful details:

New Yorker:

    He smokes Camels, and is prolifically profane.

Weekly Standard:

    His dashboard features a pack of Winstons, his round-the-clock cigarette, as well as unfiltered Camels, which he uses to mainline nicotine when some restaurant or other nanny-state nuisance is about to make him go without.

New Yorker:

    Saunders is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and can provide details of his great-grandfather’s wounding at the Battle of Seven Pines…

Weekly Standard:

    Since his own great-grandfather got his shoulder blown out by a yankee at Seven Pines, Mudcat is a proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans

New Yorker:

    He sleeps under a Rebel-flag quilt…

Weekly Standard:

    Mudcat’s bedspread is a large Confederate flag…

Again, Weekly Standard:

    …he’s perhaps the only Democratic consultant alive who sleeps under a Confederate flag bedspread…

New Yorker:

    One morning in the shower, Saunders decided that Warner needed a bluegrass campaign jingle. He composed lyrics on the spot, and put them to the tune of the Dillards’ song “Dooley”…

Weekly Standard:

    When working with Mark Warner, he actually enlisted the Bluegrass Brothers to record Warner’s campaign song. Mudcat had written the words in the shower, setting them to the music of “Dooley”…

Also, consider Mudcat Saunders’ “God loves queers” story, which he told to Labash…

    God loves them queers every bit that he loves the Republicans.

…and retold to Boyer

    God loves every queer every bit as much as he loves any Republican.

The difference? Labash had also read that quote from Saunders in the Roanoke Times and made sure to give a hat-tip:

    He thundered to the Roanoke Times…

Perhaps a lot of this isn’t flagrant, it’s just unoriginal. But that’s journalism for ya…

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