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The Rules According to MoDo

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Maureen Dowd today: Yes, it's anti-McCain, OK, fine. But what is source for today's goose will undoubtedly be the seasoning on tomorrow's gander, so let's take an, um, gander at these two indefensible journalistic transgressions. First:

"John's eaten up with envy," said one. "His image of himself was always the handsome, celebrity flyboy."

"Now somebody else is the celebrity," the colleague continued, while John looks in the mirror and sees his face marred by skin cancer and looks at the TV and sees his dashing self-image replaced by visions of William Frawley, with Letterman jokes about his membership in the ham radio club and adventures with wagon trains.

Excuse me, that's a blind negative quote. Since when does Times policy allow blind negative quotes with no right of response? I know it's a column not a news story, but it's every bit as unfair and smarmy, and believe me, most people do not distinguish.

Second, she writes:

When the Illinois freshman took back a private promise to join McCain's campaign finance reform effort, McCain told his aide Mark Salter to "brush him back." Salter sent an over-the-top vituperative letter to Obama. "I guess I beaned him instead," Salter told Newsweek's Howard Fineman.

Excuse me, but how does Dowd know that Obama "took back a private promise to join McCain's campaign finance reform effort?" Obviously, that's McCain's story and obviously she's been talking to his campaign. But why are we expected to believe that version? Did Dowd call Obama and find out if he thinks he "took back a private promise?" A thousand bucks says he's got something else to say about it and Dowd simply let herself be played by McCain's people.

Oh, and this is funny. She writes next: "McCain could dismiss W. as a lightweight, but he knows Obama's smart. Obama wrote his own books, while McCain's were written by Salter."

I once sent Dowd an email when she referred to a book George W. Bush "wrote" when I knew she knew that Karen Hughes had written the book. Bush probably had never even read it. She wrote me back but complained that it was odd anyone would think she was not tough enough on George W. Bush. I didn't bother trying to explain that that wasn't the point.

The truth was.

To read the rest of today's Altercation, click here.