SACRAMENTO - A political reporter who covered the presidential campaign for The Sacramento Bee was fired for plagiarism and fabricating sources, the newspaper reported in a column published Wednesday.
In a column printed on the back page of The Bee's front section, Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez said Dennis Love, a veteran journalist and employee at the McClatchy newspaper for 20 months, admitted his mistakes and apologized.
''We at The Bee also apologize to you, our readers, and to the journalists and newspapers whose work was plagiarized,'' Rodriguez wrote.
Suspicions about Love's work were raised Friday when an editor at the newspaper's capitol bureau ran a computerized search of a political science professor quoted in a story about the electoral college.
The editor found the professor quoted in a story in U.S. News & World Report. Parts of the story were nearly identical to Love's story, the editor found.
Editors then checked some of Love's other stories and found he had made up a source and a quote about Vice President Al Gore's relationship with pro-gun lobbyists. That story appeared on the front page of the Sept. 12 edition.
Rodriguez said the fabrications did not appear to be partisan.
Love, who previously worked at The Orange County Register, The Arizona Republic and the Daily News of Los Angeles, apologized for his actions in an interview with The San Francisco Chronicle.
''The bottom line is, I did the wrong thing and the Bee did the right thing,'' Love said. ''I'm very sorry that it happened.''
This is the second such firing episode at The Bee over the last several years. Television columnist Bob Wisehart resigned six years ago after a rumor surfaced that he stole a column out of a Florida newspaper.
Rodriguez promised to increase the number of ethics discussions held in the newsroom.
''And we believe that our response makes it clear that we have zero tolerance for these types of serious ethical lapses,'' he wrote.