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Monday, September 06, 2004

Plagerist marries, turns husband into a jew

Jewish Wedding. Plagerist Ruth Shalit had one of these


A long while back we were involved in taking up Jim Capozzola’s question as to whatever happened to Ruth Shalit, the other Hot Young Writer to leave The New Republic in disgrace a decade or so ago (for plagiarism mainly, as well as some mistakes in the lengthy and controversial article about racial issues among the staff of The Washington Post (one of which landed the magazine in court as a city official found that he had been indicted, contrary to real life) but there were allegations that she made a few things up as well like her more infamous successor Stephen Glass). Her screwups cannot be laid at the feet of any editor save Sullivan (who, in all fairness, did discipline her once. But Leon Wieseltier, whom it sounds like she was screwing at the time, has also been held liable in some accounts, and that may have been part of the power struggle between the two that ultimately forced Smalltown Boy out).

Unable to get another job in journalism immediately after she was forced out, she rather noisily turned to advertising after a year or so. This eventually set up Salon to give her a gig as its ad-industry columnist.

This kitten doesn’t change its spots, alas ... as David Talbot should have realized before he cut that first check. The usual corrections, one of which went on for several paragraphs, eventually led to allegations that she had completely fabricated part of one article. There was another parting of the ways, and were there any justice in the world, Ruth would have followed the example Glass set after his fall from the ivory towers and worked at a video or convenience store like any other self-respecting Gen Xer.

We last heard from Ms. Shalit in the Princeton alumni magazine, in which we learned she was living in LA and working on a novel. Yawn.

Well, her wedding announcement ran in today’s New York Times.

Those of you reading this online without access to the print edition should realize that this wedding ran in the favored spot the Times reserves for weddings it wants to draw some attention to: the top-left corner of the first page of announcements, the first place the reader’s eye is drawn to. Ari Fleischer’s wedding ran there. So did the nuptials of Cristyne Lategano, widely known but never officially acknowledged as Rudy Giuliani’s de facto wife during his mayoral tenure.

According to this we learn that:

The bride, 33, is a contributing writer for Elle magazine, based in Los Angeles, and a freelance writer. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton.

Wow. Sure what gets you that top spot in the country’s most widely-read weddings page. We’re sure Bob Woletz gives that honor to just any West Coast freelancer for a woman’s magazine ... after all, there aren’t too many of them out there.

And it’s not like her husband’s résumé (producer of “American Candidate”) or pedigree is all that noteworthy by Times wedding-page standards (notwithstanding the extraordinary effort they go to in laying it out, which is sort of a giveaway here).

So, clearly the only reason we can think of that Ruth Shall-Not-Eat’s wedding made the top spot in the Times was the bride’s notoriety as a repeat-offending journalistic outlaw ... the very thing which the text so circumspectly omits.

Is there no end to the rewards for failure and misconduct by the good-schooled and well-connected, however minor? This is the sort of thing that should get conservatives going (but doesn’t, tellingly). This is the sort of thing that does disgust us with the Times in general and Bob Woletz in particular.

QUICK UPDATE: Well, look what happens when you Google after Technorati tells you none of the other blogs it tracks have picked up on this.

Cathy Seipp, a friend or acquaintance of La Plagiarista whose blogroll suggests she’s either a) sort of libertarian right-leaning like Shalit supposedly was, b) somehow part of that circle or c) both (yes, as this WSJ op-ed (here reprinted on her blog for those (like us) who don’t think the Journal’s op-ed page is worth spending money on) seems to suggest), blogs about Mr. Shalit’s conversion to Judaism. Oh, she’s National Review’s West Coast columnist. That settles it. (If you find her writing insufferable, go here).

Apparently Ruth herself has also kept busy writing about politics for Details.

Let me explain a few things.

One, Ruth Shalit in her New Republic career, was a race baiter. She wrote a long, nasty and racist article for the New Republic, on I think DC. But that wasn't what undid her. Andy Sullivan never minded a spot of taunt the coloreds.

Nope, it was the writing equivilent of walking into Tiffany's with a air pistol and stealing a few bracelets. Getting caught isn't only inevitable, but well deserved. She plagerized David Broder. Now, there are stupid things to do, like getting drunk and driving, very stupid things, like screwing your boss's wife in the office and really stupid things, like wearing a Red Sox cap in the Yankee stadium bleachers. Plagerizing David Broder in Washington is pretty much akin to a cry for help, or an act of self-destruction on par with Sid Vicious's heroin habit.

Seems that Broder noticed this theft of his work and complained. A great deal.

So TNR, in shirking embarassment, finally suggested that Shalit hit the bricks. Anyone who was surprised by Stephen Glass merely had a short memory. So Shalit moves to New York, where she gets a job writing ads for an agency.

But for some reason, Shalit is hired by Salon to write about advertising. This is one of the reason David Talbot and I don't get along. Because I was stunned that a known plagerist would be hired by them to write about her industry. And of course, she fucked it up and Salon was burned. But then, that was no surprise either. Talbot has reformed to some degree, but back in the bad old days, he was rather sloppy with the hiring.

Shalit then disappeared from journalism.

Now, why did Shalit have such a charmed career? Because she and her sister Wendy were, for lack of a better phrase, fuckable. Nobody cared what Shalit wrote as long as they could hop in bed with her. Now, to be fair, this has nothing to do with Talbot, who was 3000 miles away from his writer, but it sure cut her slack in Washington. While Wendy made a point of her virginity, Ruth, well, that wasn't the issue with her. She was cute, and that caused a lot of "sympathy" in Washington. Print newsrooms, as a rule, are a room full of ugly, male and female. Wearing makeup will get you noticed. Mini-skirts? Jesus, that's enough to get you a line of boyfriends, age appropriate or not.

Which is how she was protected for so long.

It's interesting that Cathy Seipp is now a right wing hack. Because I'd bet that she's the reason that Shalit was hired by Salon, since Seipp was one of their lead writers for several years. Now it all makes sense.

Of course, we wish Ms. Shalit and her newly minted Jewish husband-Shalit took her religion seriously, even back in the day-the best. Of course, the fact that she's a plagerist and he's some kind of reality TV scum producer is a match made in hell. Or LA, you pick.

The Beltway folks protect their own, always have, always will. Which is why we must challenge them.

posted by Steve @ 1:53:00 PM

1:53:00 PM

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