Patterico's Pontifications

4/21/2006

Hiltzik’s Blog Suspension Reported in Washington Post

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Hiltzik — Patterico @ 1:11 am

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz has an article on the suspension of Michael Hiltzik’s L.A. Times-sponsored blog:

The Los Angeles Times suspended the blog of one of its top columnists last night, saying he violated the paper’s policy by posting derogatory comments under an assumed name.

The paper said in an online editor’s note that Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winner who writes the Golden State column, had admitted posting remarks on both his Times blog and on other Web sites under names other than his own. The Times said it is investigating the matter. Editor Dean Baquet declined comment, and Hiltzik said he could not comment.

The deceptive postings grew out of a running feud between Hiltzik and conservative bloggers in Southern California. One is Hugh Hewitt, a radio talk show host and blogger. The other is an assistant Los Angeles district attorney named Patrick Frey, who maintains a blog under the name Patterico’s Pontifications.

For a mainstream media account of the controversy, Kurtz’s story seems fair enough. Kurtz brings out the meat of the story — that Hiltzik’s various sock-puppet identities have praised and defended each other without disclosing that they are all Hiltzik — by quoting from my blog post:

Frey wrote that “the evidence is overwhelming that he has used more than one pseudonym. Hiltzik and his pseudonymous selves have echoed each other’s arguments, praised one another, and mocked each other’s enemies. All the while, Hiltzik’s readers have been unaware that (at a minimum) the acid-tongued ‘Mikekoshi’ . . . is in fact Hiltzik himself.”

Kurtz also quotes Hiltzik’s defense — the ludicrous strawman argument that I was simply upset at Hiltzik for being liberal:

On his Times blog, before the editor’s note appeared, Hiltzik did not deny using the name “Mikekoshi” and seemed to dismiss Frey’s complaint: “This is amusing, because most of the comments posted on his website are anonymous or pseudonymous. . . . Anonymity for commenters is a feature of his blog, as it is of mine. It’s a feature that he can withdraw from his public any time he wishes. He has chosen to do that in one case only, and we might properly ask why. The answer is that he’s ticked off that someone would disagree with him.”

Hiltzik’s Pulitzer prize is mentioned. The fact that he was once disciplined for snooping into his colleagues’ e-mail is not.

The appearance of the story in the Washington Post is another reminder to Times editors that the issue won’t simply go away on its own.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Hiltzik should simply admit his wrongdoing, show a sincere understanding of why it was wrong, and pledge not to do it again.

There’s still time.

28 Responses to “Hiltzik’s Blog Suspension Reported in Washington Post”

  1. I tried to ping this post, but was unsuccessful, so I’d just like to sum this up here:

    As far as the “suspension” goes, it’s a necessary step. But I think that what this whole episode really shows is that Michael Hiltzik just isn’t mature enough to be allowed on the Internet, under the aegis of the Los Angeles Times, on his own. I say this as someone who is at least a decade younger than Hiltzik, but I can at least fake being a responsible adult on the Internet.

    Hiltzik can probably continue to work on his dead tree columns without being a major embarassment to the paper, but he’s demonstrated that he can’t handle the editor-free blog environment.

    So, if the Times is looking for an alternative Pulitzer-Prize winning blogger, may I suggest … me.

    Hoystory (15d1aa)

  2. I’m not saying they should fire him… I’m saying with his past email colleague password theft transgression and subsequent privacy violation, his current blogging culture and LA Times ethics code mishap, and his refusal to take responsibility for it and instead to launch ludicrously inadequate attacks… so inadequate the Times immediately sees it and calls him on it … that he is rapidly making his own bed and unless he’s taking actions in the near future thus far invisible to the lay public (entirely possible) his career is severely damaged.

    He has given the LA Times more than enough cause. Certainly, firing him would not be unreasonable. So if he wants to keep his job, he should try genuine reform on his work honesty and respect for his profession. I’m wondering if that’s beyond him.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  3. Although what Michael Hiltzik did was indeed inappropriate and irresponsible, I should point out that the Washington Post article which you quote is misleading:

    The Los Angeles Times suspended the blog of one of its top columnists last night, saying he violated the paper’s policy by posting derogatory comments under an assumed name.

    No where in the editor’s note on Hiltzig’s blog was anything about derogatory comments mentioned. His blog was suspended for “violation of The Times ethics guidelines, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public.”

    Matt (7ae276)

  4. Everyone should be linked to posts where they are called a genius and a hero.

    quantum (df4ccc)

  5. I underestimated this blog swarm.

    Mostly because of the behavior of the media I guess. So many times we see something similar to this apparently go unnoticed or uncorrected among traditional media.

    I thought there’d be some to and fro’ing of posts among a few blogs, the wall would go up at the Times and that would be that. Hiltzig would stop using the puppets – or get new names for them – and nothing would change.

    With the suspension of the blog and the national media sniffing it up though this becomes much more serious. You can bet Hiltzig’s job is in serious jeopardy this morning. If this plays out negatively in the rest of the MSM they’ll toss him under the train – hide and watch.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  6. OK Patterico, you got your man. You’ve earned the title of Cyber-Sleuth too. I’m for exposing dishonesty wherever it is found, so well done.

    But what do you think should happen to Michelle Malkin for publishing personal information about protestors which led to them getting death threats? I think her blog should be suspended too – indefinitely.

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  7. Hide and watch? But then I might miss the shot!

    AP Photographer (208fbe)

  8. But what do you think should happen to Michelle Malkin for publishing personal information about protestors which led to them getting death threats? I think her blog should be suspended too – indefinitely.

    For posting information that the students openly PUT IN THE PRESS RELEASE? C’mon, they are supposed to be adults. If they didn’t want to be contacted, they should have omitted the contact information!

    Sean S. (49487a)

  9. That’s no excuse Sean S. (#8), assuming that it’s true. So if I give personal information to a reporter, I can expect it to be published? Come on, that’s really lame.

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  10. Hiltzik sock puppet update

    Via Patterico I find that Howard Kurtz has reported on Hiltzik’s use of a sock puppet: The Los Angeles Times suspended the blog of one of its top columnists last night, saying he violated the paper’s policy by posting derogatory…

    Deltoid (a83cc5)

  11. Liberals cannot make their point without inventing sources and stories. There is no difference between this and the Dan Rather hit piece on Bush. Lucy Ramirez is/was Mary Mapes with her hand in a sock. The next time the LA Times does a story and uses an anonymous source, don’t believe it. This goes for all of the MSM. They can’t fire Hiltzik for what he did, if they did, they’d have to fire almost everyone at the paper.

    AllenS (474c41)

  12. Psyberian–

    What’s lame is a bunch of morons physically threatening recruiters who have a legal right to be on their campus, then whining about the dissemination of information that they themselves posted for dissemination. Perhaps even “lamer”–though, y’know, Tiger Woods would get in trouble for saying that–are commenters who post in defense of self-promoting ninnies like these who are surprised to find that there’s a price to be paid for idiocy.

    AP Photographer (208fbe)

  13. AllenS, you hit the nail on the head. Most of the MSM should be fired. They have abused their positions of trust for far too long and only a wholesale housecleaning will cure the situation. The LATimes is a good place to start.

    Psyberian, you have a problem distinguishing right from wrong. Your DU friends were wrong, as well as Hiltzik. The fact you try to smear Malkin in your attempt at moral equivalence proves your ethic and moral deficits.

    A public press release is PUBLIC! Anyone who doesn’t accept that is a fool not to be listened to again.

    Again no one has come forward with any proof the SAW students requested a withdrawl of the press release, only angry blasts from leftie commenters like psyberian.

    PCD (89cd95)

  14. Psyberian:

    If you say to the MSM, “this is on background,” or “this is off the record,” and give them your name, address, and sexual preferences, it should not wind up in the story attached to your name. (Although even this is violated at times.)

    If, however, you say to the MSM, “check out my website,” and it has your name, address, and sexual preferences, then it is absolutely up to the reporter to mention the URL, quote from the web-page, mention your preference for Rhode Island Reds, etc.

    And if you release it on a press release, then, yes, it’s fair game.

    Or are you about to suggest that Patterico’s words at this very web-site are somehow off-limits to Howard Kurtz’s quoting him?

    Malkin reproduced the press release. In the same way that other web-sites, including Indymedia, did. To suggest that Malkin’s actions are comparable to Hiltzik’s, or that they are somehow beyond the pale, is to obfuscate like San Francisco bay generates fog.

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  15. Kudos on this piece, Patterico. I would hate to generalize about the small, petty world that Pulitzer Prize-winning columnists live in whereby they have to conjure alternate identities that compliment each other, but that would be reaching. Hewitt’s circulation thesis (and the recent Wall Street analysis of Tribune Co. and NY Times) make the case for all of us. They are going down without a clue.

    carlitos (2bcbb9)

  16. L.A. Times Columnist Michael Hiltzik Uses Fake Names in Blog

    A blog by a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist from the Los Angeles Times has been suspended due to ethical violations.  Apparently he defended his own columns and posts with pseudonyms like “mikekoshi.”  Patterico, the Los Angeles blogger…

    Common Sense Journal (e97c83)

  17. Me, Myself, and I – The Blog Version

    Patterico exposes LA Times Blogger Michael Hiltzik’s penchant for sock puppetry.

    Is an L.A. Time…

    The Queen of All Evil (f03b36)

  18. I don’t want to turn this into a thread about Malkin, but this requires immediate correction:

    That’s no excuse Sean S. (#8), assuming that it’s true. So if I give personal information to a reporter, I can expect it to be published? Come on, that’s really lame.

    They didn’t “give” anything to Malkin or to any other reporter, psyberian. People are making it sound like the release was faxed to her because she’s a member of the press, and that the contact info was therefore supposed to be confidential. To the contrary: she got the release from their own website. You or I could have done the same. It was live to the world, not just to “reporters.” As such, it’s not fair to say that Malkin “published” it because that implies she was the one who made it public. She wasn’t. They were.

    Allahpundit (4ba106)

  19. Psyberian wrote (#6):

    > But what do you think should happen to Michelle Malkin for publishing personal information about protestors which led to them getting death threats?

    I’m suspicious of comments in which the author make a serious accusation without providing the links that the reader would need to make an informed judgement.

    Responses by Sean S. (#8), AP Photographer (#12), and Lurking Observer (#14) add information that puts your attack on Malkin in a very different light. Perhaps there’s still some merit in what you allege–as I haven’t checked, I don’t know. But it can already be seen that your framing of the matter has been misleading and thus unethical.

    Failing a clarification or an apology, I’ll give much less weight to commentary posted under the pseudonym Psyberian from this point forward.

    AMac (b6037f)

  20. The Kurtz piece is missing two “e” words – email and ethics.

    It’s quite important to note that Hiltzik’s blog was suspended for violating the ETHICS policy of the LA Times rather than merely “saying he violated the paper’s policy”.

    Second, the suspension should raise the ire of Hiltzik’s email affair in the Moscow Bureau of the LA Times. I suppose the range in years is large enough to provide plausible cover, but nonetheless, it would provide further context expressing the behavior patterns of Mr. Hiltzik.

    Gabriel Sutherland (90b3a1)

  21. Well done, Patterico. You’ve earned yourself a new reader (I’m sure I’m not the only one).

    Carlos (98df3a)

  22. “Michelle Malkin”

    Has done nothing dishonest nor unethical just because someone else MAY have threatened those S.A.W. idiots. They made their info public, and the jury’s still out on whether they’ve actually been “threatened” by anybody but their own sock puppets.

    Carlos (98df3a)

  23. Prysberian asks a legitimate question about publishing phone numbers. I’d love to talk about it, but not here as it is off topic.

    Would you like to host the topic Prysberian? Perhaps Carlos? I’m open to hosting it as well.

    Gabriel Sutherland (90b3a1)

  24. Congratulations Patterico. Absolutley Awesome.

    Psy – sorry but public information is public information. Too bad for them. It’s kind of like when the left claims that certain groups were “spied on” by the FBI when all the FBI did was go to their websites and read the information there. Too funny.

    Specter (466680)

  25. It’s a strange old game and you learn it slow:

    The hysterical Left makes bogus claims and MSM pretends to take the loony accusations seriously. Loudmouth nitwits then take up the call and demand GWB “explain” how it is his Administration bungled the imaginary crisis. Next, web commenters are onboard and using the manufactured outrage to push the liberal agenda or to defend one of their sacred cows. Keep your eyes open and you’ll not only see it coming, you’ll also recognize the players.

    Two steps forward and it’s back to go.

    Name that tune.

    Black Jack (606af0)

  26. That’s no excuse Sean S. (#8), assuming that it’s true. So if I give personal information to a reporter, I can expect it to be published? Come on, that’s really lame.

    Psyberian, if I was to give you public information about me then I would be willing to accept the conseqence of the release of that information. If I put it on my website for all to see then it would be ludicrous to complain if that information was copied on another site, regardless of the outcome. What is “lame” is calling someone vulgar names because they are too immature to accept the consequences of their actions.

    SeanS (49487a)

  27. But what do you think should happen to Michelle Malkin for publishing personal information about protestors which led to them getting death threats? I think her blog should be suspended too – indefinitely.

    Even if your framing of the issue is correct, who’d suspend it? It’s a personal blog.

    Hermetic Jar (f69e1b)

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    Wholesale Distributor (57dace)


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