The Return of Wente

October 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm (Uncategorized)

Ever since Margaret Wente was “suspended” from her position at The Globe and Mail after allegation of plagiarism surfaced (suspended in quotation marks because the Globe refused to reveal what disciplinary measured were taken), the paper has been running little tags stating “Margaret Wente will return.”

Promise or warning?

The Wente affair began when Carol Weinio in her Media Culpa blog pointed out the, ahem, similarity between a piece by Wente and another by an Ottawa Citizen journalist, Dan Gardiner.  Margaret Wente’s initial response was to suggest that the criticism was motivated by political disagreements, but also to claim that she was not a serial plagiarist.

Weinio’s piece was not the first to raise criticism of Wente’s copy checking, but this time it grew legs. Considering that a regular target for Wente is “falling education standards” and of course teachers, her previous comments that plagiarism should be rewarded with a zero could hardly have provoked a different result. And it showed, in the on-line comment columns, hundreds of people posted gleeful comments about Wente’s apparent hypocricy.

In her first post-exposure column after her return, Wente tried again; this time admitting mistakes and taking responsibility, but again failing to state what those mistakes were. And so chastised, but with little evidence so far of humility, she’s back.

All in all though, Margaret Wente’s transgressions seem pretty small. After all, we live in a culture of dishonesty. Leaving aside the various media scandals, look at the Republican and Democratic contenders for president: Joe Biden cribbed speeches from Neil Kinnock. Paul Ryan has lied about his time in marathons and criticized government programs he has used; Mitt Romney appears to be able to say anything to anyone  in order to get elected. Help me out with an Obama story here.

Are these the best that bourgeois democracy has to offer or are these merely a representative sample? Either way, as much as I dislike her politics, her smugness and her plagiarism, the crimes of Ms. Wente do seem minor in comparison.

As Shakespeare might not have said, o crappy world that has such people in it.

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