There’s going to be some lingering discussion about the meteoric rise and fall of Ben Domenech, the blogger at Washingtonpost.com. There will probably be some soul-searching in public about the role of bloggers vs. journalists and some final back-and-forth between the left and the right about whether or not he was treated fairly and so on. As for me, I’m pretty much done with the story other than to point out that it doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, a journalist, a novelist, or a pundit; if you write something and publish it, you’re going to be held accountable for it. Freedom of speech comes with responsibility and readers have an expectation that what you write will have been written with a clear conscience on the part of the author that the work is his or her own or properly credited to the original source. The internet makes it easy to do research and it also makes it very easy to verify facts, so there’s no reason not to make a good effort to at least try to get it right.
In other words, you can’t make shit up or steal it from someone else without getting busted, so don’t even try. End of story.