The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd's Twitter account isn't hers [UPDATED]

April 23, 2009 |  8:51 am

Maureendowd-twitter In Tuesday's New York Times, op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd launched a snarky assault on Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams. In addition to getting her every question shot down by the wit of San Francisco's darling Web entrepreneurs, she seemed to undermine her entire argument when bloggers found @maureendowd, what appears to be her own Twitter account.

"I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account," Dowd wrote in the last question of the Q&A.

Wait a minute, the collective Internet conscious seemed to say, but you are on Twitter.

Despite amassing more than 5,000 followers since starting the account in November, displaying her signature profile photo and having an accurate bio, @maureendowd may be the work of yet another celebrity impersonator -- using the term "celebrity" loosely in this case.

Was it the inconsistent style and extensive use of the word "cool" tipped off some skeptics? Or the fact that her first tweet was ...

... simply "Maureen Dowd, New York Times"? Was that one for the search engines, Mister (or Miss) Impersonator?

After the hubbub this week over Dowd's acidic anti-Twitter piece, Toure, an author and cultural commentator, insisted via tweet that the real Dowd has "nothing to do with @maureendowd."

That didn't stop bloggers and Twitterers from wondering why Dowd seems so hellbent on verbally assailing beloved technology heroes, who are responsible for all these cool new toys that everybody is yammering about.

Last week, she drew comparisons of Google to Big Brother and stopped short of likening the company's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, to Dick Cheney.

"I can't even read your latest column," tweeted Millie Tran, a Los Angeles resident. "I don't want a Mo'Dowd-induced-hate for Google and Twitter in the span of a week."

WalletPop blasted Dowd in a lengthy post for her cluelessness about Twitter. If anything, Dowd's case is being made too late. Despite being only 2 years old, Twitter is past the "I don’t care that my friend is having a hamburger" argument. Oprah gets it. Even self-professed tech dunce John McCain gets it. Why doesn't Dowd?

To add insult to injury, the Huffington Post lobs the abuse back at the New York Times. For a company that is losing money and failing to find revenue sources, the N.Y. Times' dinosaur bones are starting to show, the post suggests. Ouch!

Good thing the paper did a balancing act by publishing "Why I Am Obsessed With Twitter" on its tech blog on the same day Dowd's article ran in print and online. But judging by immediate reactions, it didn't do much to defuse the backlash.

Updated on March 23, 12:23 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled Dowd's last name. It also incorrectly stated the date for Dowd's Tuesday column. Also, our message to the New York Times requesting comment was not returned.

Updated on March 24, 12:47 p.m.: All Things D reports that a New York Times spokeswoman confirms that the Twitter account doesn't belong to Dowd. "It appears as though it was created by someone outside The Times," she told the blog. The New York Times has yet to return our e-mails requesting comment.

-- Mark Milian