Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd
Maureen Dowd

Dowd at a Democratic Debate in Philadelphia, April 16, 2008
Born Maureen Bridgid Dowd
January 14, 1952 (1952-01-14) (age 59)
Washington, D.C.
Education B.A., Catholic University of America (1973)
Immaculata High School (1969)
Occupation Columnist
Ethnicity Irish[1]
Religious belief(s) Roman Catholic[1]
Notable credit(s) Washington Star
The New York Times (1983–present)

Maureen Bridgid Dowd[2] (born January 14, 1952) is a Washington D.C.-based columnist for The New York Times and best-selling author.[3][4] During the 1970s and the early 1980s, she worked for Time magazine and the Washington Star, where she covered news as well as sports and wrote feature articles.[3][4] Dowd joined the Times in 1983 as a metropolitan reporter and eventually became an Op-Ed writer for the newspaper in 1995.[3][4] In 1999, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her series of columns on the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the Clinton administration.[3][5]


Early life and career

Dowd was born the youngest of five children in Washington, D.C.[3][4] Her father, Mike, worked as a D.C. police inspector while her mother, Peggy, was a homemaker.[2][6] Dowd graduated from Immaculata High School in 1969.[7] She received a B.A. in English in 1973 from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.[3][4]

Dowd began her career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for the Washington Star, where she later became a sports columnist, metropolitan reporter, and feature writer.[3][4] When the newspaper closed in 1981, she went to work at Time.[3][4] In 1983, she joined The New York Times, initially as a metropolitan reporter.[3][4] She began serving as correspondent in The Times Washington bureau in 1986.[3][4]

In 1991, Dowd received a Breakthrough Award from Columbia University.[4] In 1992, she was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for national reporting,[4] and in 1994 she won a Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications.[4][8]

New York Times columnist, 1995–present

Dowd became a columnist on The New York Times Op-Ed page in 1995,[3][4] replacing Anna Quindlen,[6] who left to become a full-time novelist.[9] Dowd was named a Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine in 1996,[4] and won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary.[3] She won The Damon Runyon Award for outstanding contributions to journalism in 2000,[10] and became the first Mary Alice Davis Lectureship speaker (sponsored by the School of Journalism and the Center for American History) at The University of Texas at Austin in 2005.[11] In 2010, Dowd was ranked #43 on The Daily Telegraph's list of the 100 most influential liberals in America; in 2007, she was ranked #37 on the same list.[12]

Writing style

Dowd's columns have been described as letters to her mother, whom friends credit as "the source, the fountain of Maureen’s humor and her Irish sensibilities and her intellectual take."[2] Dowd herself has said, "she is in my head in the sense that I want to inform and amuse the reader."[13] Dowd's columns are distinguished by an acerbic, often polemical writing style.[14] Her columns often display a critical and irreverent attitude towards powerful, mostly political, figures such as former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Dowd also tends to refer to her subjects by nicknames. For example, she has often referred to Bush as "W." and former Vice President Dick Cheney as "Big Time."[15] She has President Barack Obama "Spock".[16] Dowd's interest in candidates' personalities earned her criticism early in her career: "She focuses too much on the person but not enough on policy."[2]

Dowd, who perceives her columns to be an exploration of politics, Hollywood, and gender related topics, often uses popular culture to support and metaphorically enhance her political commentary.[14] In a Times video debate, she said of the North Korean government: " could look at a movie like Mean Girls and figure out the way these North Koreans are reacting; you know it's like high school girls with nuclear weapons—they just want some attention from us, you know?"[17]

Dowd's columns have also been often described as political cartoons that capture the caricatured image of the current political landscape, with both precision and exaggeration.[2] In the run-up to the 2000 presidential election, for example, Dowd wrote that Democratic candidate "Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically correct that he's practically lactating",[18] while referring to the Democratic party as the "mommy party".[2] In a Fresh Dialogues interview years later, she said, "I was just teasing him a little bit because he was so earnest and he could be a little righteous and self important. That’s not always the most effective way to communicate your ideas, even if the ideas themselves are right. I mean, certainly his ideas were right but he himself was – sometimes – a pompous messenger for them." [13]

Plagiarism controversy

Talking Points Memo blogger "thejoshuablog" found a paragraph in Dowd's May 17, 2009 Times column that was extremely similar to one in a May 14 blog post by TPM editor Josh Marshall, and accused her of plagiarism.[19] Dowd, known for finding similarities between an August 1987 speech by Joe Biden and an earlier one by British politician Neil Kinnock, said that the virtually identical paragraph was simply "a line" told to her by a friend, and that she had never read the blog.[20][21] She left unclear whether the "line" came from a verbal or written exchange with the anonymous friend, and did not explain how the paragraph wound up copied with the exception of two words in the original blog post.[22] Since then, Dowd's column has been updated with a correction that references Marshall and notes the lack of proper attribution in the original piece.[22] The public editor for the Times, Clark Hoyt, criticized Dowd by saying, "readers have a right to expect that even if an opinion columnist like Dowd tosses around ideas with a friend, her column will be her own words. If the words are not hers, she must give credit."[23]


  • Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk. G. P. Putnam's Sons. 2004. ISBN 0-425-20276-3. 
  • Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide. Putnam. 2005. ISBN 0-7553-1550-2. 


  1. ^ a b Dowd, Maureen (February 29, 1996). "Liberties; Gasping for Eire". The New York Times. "I'm an Irish Catholic and a journalist"; Dezell, Maureen (2001). Irish America: Coming into Clover. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 0-385-49596-X. p.115: "As for the Irish voice in America, three female commentators on the New York Times op-ed page in the last decade of the last century were Anna Quindlen, Maureen Dowd, and Gail Collins"; Schmalzbauer, John Arnold (2003). People of Faith: Religious Conviction in American Journalism and Higher Education. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3886-1. p. 18: "...Dowd succeeded Anna Quindlen, another Irish Catholic, on the Time's op-ed page. Other Catholic journalists at the Gray Lady include Elaine Sciolino, Peter Steinfels, and Robin Toner." p. 41: "The annual ranking of the top-fifty journalists by Washingtonian magazine routinely includes practicing Catholics such as...Maureen Dowd..."
  2. ^ a b c d e f Levy, Ariel (2005-10-31). "The Redhead and the Gray Lady". New York magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Columnist Biography: Maureen Dowd". The New York Times. 2002-04-16. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "The 1999 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Commentary: Biography". Columbia University. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  5. ^ "The 1999 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Commentary: Citation". Columbia University. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  6. ^ a b McDermott, Peter (2007-08-08). "Echo Profile: A necessary woman – Times' Dowd endeavors to keep W, Vice, and Rummy in check". The Irish Echo. Archived from the original on February 27, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  7. ^ Schmalzbauer 2003, p. 18; "Singularly acerbic pen sets Dowd apart as Clinton critic; N.Y. Times' pundit keeps caustic watch on Washington". The Washington Times. September 25, 1996.
  8. ^ "Matrix Hall of Fame". New York Women in Communications. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  9. ^ "Meet Newsweek – Anna Quindlen, Contributing Editor". Newsweek via 2006-01-11. Archived from the original on 2007-05-08. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  10. ^ "Maureen Dowd – The Damon Runyon Award, 1999–2000". The Denver Press Club. Archived from the original on 2006-07-20. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  11. ^[dead link]"Columnist Maureen Dowd Kicks Off New Lecture Series". University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  12. ^ Harnden, Toby (January 13, 2010). "The most influential US liberals: 60-41". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved January 14, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Fresh Dialogues interview with Alison van Diggelen, April 2009
  14. ^ a b Kurtz, Howard (2005-10-05). "Sex & the Single Stiletto". The Washington Post: pp. C01. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  15. ^ Dowd, Maureen (2000-10-08). "Liberties; West Wing Chaperone". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  16. ^ Dowd, Maureen (December 30, 2009). "As the Nation's Pulse Races, Obama Can't Seem to Find His". The New York Times: pp. A27. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  17. ^ Brooks, David; Dowd, Maureen; Rich, Frank (speakers) (2006-07-19) (Flash Video). U.S. Politics: What's Next?—2: Bush's Circle of Trust. The New York Times. Event occurs at 5:05. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  18. ^ Stein, Jonathan (2007-11-19). "Maureen Dowd Rehashes the "Presidential Candidate X is a Wuss" Construct". MoJo (blog). Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  19. ^ Irvine, Don (2009-04-17). "Dowd’s Innocent Plagiarism". Accuracy In Media. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  20. ^ Baram, Marcus. "Maureen Dowd Admits Inadvertently Lifting Line From TPM's Josh Marshall". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  21. ^ "N.Y. Times' Dowd Admits Lifting Blogger's Words". Associated Press via Fox News Channel. 2009-05-18.,2933,520467,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  22. ^ a b Luscombe, Belinda (May. 18, 2009). "Is Maureen Dowd Guilty of Plagiarism?". Time.,8599,1899530,00.html. Retrieved January 3, 2010. 
  23. ^ Hoyt, Clark (2009-05-23). "The Writers Make News. Unfortunately.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 

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