Repeat Offender

Hot young political reporter Ruth Shalit’s writing has that familiar New Republic ring to it. In fact, it’s a little too familiar.

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The Washington, D.C., media recycles conventional political wisdom so regularly that sometimes it’s difficult to tell where it came from. But last year, The New Republic‘s 25-year-old political writer/enfant terrible Ruth Shalit proved an exception.

Shalit had a rough 1995. In addition to having a very public feud with the Washington Post, which claimed her New Republic cover-story attack on the newspaper’s affirmative action program was riddled with errors, Shalit also faced accusations that she lifted passages from other publications on three separate occasions. Oops! Make that four.

While fact-checking this issue’s profile of Sen. Bob Dole, Mother Jones researchers were struck with a sudden case of deja vu. In Shalit’s own story on Dole in the March 5, 1995 New York Times Magazine, she wrote:

“Like a British Tory rather than an American conservative, Dole distrusts visions and visionaries.”

Compare with this sentence, from an April 5, 1993 article in another national magazine:

“Like a British High Tory rather than an American conservative, Dole distrusts visions and visionaries.”

Shalit blames her own sloppy computer habits–accidentally splicing together published stories with her own notes–for the previous incidents.

Until now, The New Republic editors have gallantly supported their newest star reporter. But they might feel differently when they find out that the above passage first appeared in none other than The New Republic. The article was written by then-Senior Editor (and Shalit mentor) Fred Barnes, now the editor of the Weekly Standard.


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