Patterico's Pontifications

4/23/2006

Hiltzik Blog Suspension Makes the Pages of the New York Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:46 pm

The Hiltzik blog suspension has made the New York Times.

Since it’s the Old Grey Lady, the article must necessarily be better than the previous ones. Right?

Long-time readers are already spitting their beverages onto their screens.

Yeah, it’s the same old nonsense. There is no hint in the article about the actual reason why Hiltzik’s use of pseudonyms rankles: because of the ridiculous sock-puppetry involved. (Say it with me: It’s not the pseudonyms! It’s the sock-puppetry!) Instead, slavishly observing the bland characterization of L.A. Times editors, the NYT describes Hiltzik’s offense as nothing more than posting comments under false names. The concept that Hiltzik used his pseudonyms to praise and defend each other is apparently just beyond the capability of journalists to understand — even at the (supposedly) most prestigious paper in the land.

Along those lines: I haven’t mentioned this until now, but now that it’s in the freaking New York Times: I am a Deputy District Attorney. You hear that? Deputy! Every single article that has come out on this, including the NYT piece, has called me an “assistant Los Angeles district attorney.” That’s gotta come as news to the actual Assistant District Attorneys in our office. There are only three of them, and they are among the five top-ranking supervisors in the entire office of 900+ attorneys.

But have you ever read any article in Big Media, about any topic where you had intimate personal knowledge of the facts, where they didn’t screw up something? Of course you haven’t. I have never met anyone who has.

But hey! guess what? They actually picked up the bit about Hiltzik’s e-mail snooping! So they get at least partial credit.

By the way: no. None of these news organizations has ever called me in connection with this story. The only person I ever heard from was Hugh Hewitt’s producer.

UPDATE 5:25 p.m.: I finally did get a call — one call — from an AP reporter. But I never spoke to him. I explain here.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Tom Maguire for the link, and for promoting me to Deputy Attorney General (and Supreme Court nominee). Please consider bookmarking the main page and subscribing via Bloglines, by clicking on this button:

Subscribe with Bloglines

43 Responses to “Hiltzik Blog Suspension Makes the Pages of the New York Times”

  1. Can’t you start a lawsuit of all the people who the NYT mis-represented since “Pinch” took over? Instead of asking for cash from the NYT corporation, ask for Sulzburger stock…Just an idea.

    JSF (86623d)

  2. What irresponsible journalism. Not to place a phone call.

    You hear me New York Times? LA Times? Rest of the media?

    No, you don’t. You’re too busy writing articles from your biased viewpoints to get contrary points of view, even from the LA Deputy District Attorney that broke the story and continues to run rings around you professionals.

    You should be ashamed not only of your bias, but of your laziness.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  3. It’s the usual problem. I know way more about this whole situation than any one reporter who writes any one article. But they write it, not me. And so people read them, not me.

    Patterico (156eed)

  4. It’s their job to write it. And to call people up on the phone or mosey on down and seem them to ask them about it if they have information.

    They can’t be bothered to do that (unless it’s in pursuit of one of their own agendas).

    They are a disgrace to themselves.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  5. Gosh, gee whiz. If they can’t grasp this simple issue, do you think it is possible that the New York Times and the LA Times are missing the point in complex issues like Iraq?…energy policy?…border control?…taxes?…WMD?…terrorism?

    It boggles the mind.

    Perfect Sense (024110)

  6. That’s funny, Pat. I used to work in local TV news. I don’t know if that’s even relevant to the point, maybe it just made it more obvious, but in EVERY instance where I’ve had some personal or industry knowledge of a story, they’ve gotten some detail, or the entire gist of the story wrong. It’s truly unbelievable. I’ve been making the point for years that it’s not just their bias, it’s their incompetence that makes them truly dangerous.

    CraigC (28872d)

  7. Ah, whatever happened to “research” and “reporting” – superfluous, it would seem.

    CraigC & PP – yes, agree 100%! But, most readers & viewers are never aware that much of what passes for “reporting” in the MSM is fiction, or at best, woefully partial & inaccurate – they do this on minor stories as well as matters of great significance. It’s quite shameful and it means that we, the public, are mostly ignorant of the truth, despite being saturated with “news”.

    Ck (975608)

  8. The problem is that reporters don’t report anymore. They pontificate and propagandize.

    The few Conservative reporters and columnists who get it are dismayed at the public’s perception of their profession. See GOP Vixen’s blog for example.

    Just an aside, Tuesday, Apr. 25th, is the 30th anniversary of Rick Monday saving Old Glory from a couple of flag burners at Dodger stadium. Watch how many papers mention the incident and how they do. Also watch the negative reaction from lefty bloggers and commenters. This incident shows the characcter of the person commenting upon it.

    PCD (89cd95)

  9. It’s all about framing the argument. They frame the argument around the issue of pseudonyms, a particularly convenient issue because they know it can be a sensitive topic in the blogosphere. So virtual ink is spilled on an irrelevant issue and thus the blatant dishonesty of Hiltzik’s posts is hidden. The sock puppet issue will never get out to most of the people who read printed paper. Did we somehow forget that distraction is the bread and butter of the press?

    Sometimes you just have to admire them. Public opinion is putty in their hands. The best we can do is create a temporary embarrassment and maybe restrain some of the more outrageous behavior of their reporters. What happened is what they say happened. Haven’t you heard? I read it in the newspaper.

    We’ve come a long way, but the big boys are still firmly in control.

    Amphipolis3 (fdbc48)

  10. I don’t know, Amphipolis3. I’ve begun thinking of the MSM as “news for people who aren’t really paying attention.” They still hold sway over the opinions of such people, true, but a companion to “not paying attention” is usually “don’t much care.” That’s not going to help much with that whole retaking Congress thing.

    S. Weasel (ed7c8f)

  11. Patterico and CraigC:

    I think you guys have hit the nail on the head. Prior to the pervasive Internet, I think most experts felt that their area was generally poorly covered, but that presumably other areas were okay. After all, my field is technical, it’s got lots of details, these guys have lots of things to cover, etc., etc.

    But with the Internet, and folks reading not just about their areas of expertise, but other experts’ experiences, what are they finding? Prosecutors find out that not only is the press misreporting prosecution stories, but that doctors are blogging about how the press screws up their stories, too. Military folks find out that not only are military stories misreported, but that financial experts, investment bankers, and physicists are also unhappy with how their stories are covered.

    Where the MSM once had the benefit of the doubt, the assumption that they presumably got the details on other people’s stories right, now we’re finding out, more and more, that this is just not the case. They get most of the details on most of the stories wrong.

    And with that, respect evaporates and people’s willingness to let them get away with it diminishes.

    Add to that the odd consistency with which stories are often incorrect (none dare call it—bias), and of a sudden, we find out that, far from being providers of truth and news, that in fact the MSM deals mostly with opinion (theirs) and slant (theirs).

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  12. To get the fullest sense, it helps to turn to page C6 of today’s New York Times and read Katie Hafner’s article as it’s printed.

    When you click on the link Patterico provides to get to the NYT website, you can do ironical eye-rolls as you read, because you already know what’s going unmentioned. Other web readers whose curiosity is stoked know that they are only a Google search away from additional information.

    Reading the article in its paper format illustrates how effective Hafner is in misrepresenting the controversy to Hiltzik’s advantage. There’s not a hint. Almost everybody who isn’t predisposed to view the NYT with skepticism will be taken in.

    Intelligent, savvy people who don’t supplement the newspaper with online sources have no way of sensing that they’re being scammed by articles such as this. Advantage: still with the gatekeepers.

    AMac (b6037f)

  13. It’s the sock puppetry?

    What kind of twisted ass outrage is that?

    Reading this vile pile of crap, I find a whole lot more to retch about than sock puppetry,

    Like: where the hell does a public prosecutor, a publicly-funded position that takes A LOT of time and commitment, get the time to run a site like this?

    Is any public time or computing resource devoted to this POS blog?

    Who the hell cares if someone sock puppets? This is the INTERNET for heaven’s sake. More than half the crap published in this sewer pipe of electrons is sock pupperts are worse.

    I am writing a letter to Steve Cooley demanding an investigation into this flagrant abuse of MY taxpayer money. Getting your Jockeys twisted up your anus on the public dime is not my idea of what I hired you to do, Mister Frey.

    Zuma Hans (140ac2)

  14. Getting your job title wrong is the NYT’s regional focus showing. Me, I’ve never heard of a Deputy District Attorney – in all the DA’s offices I’ve dealt with in New York, the line prosecutors are called Assistant District Attorneys, and in the US Attorney’s offices the line prosecutors are called Assistant US Attorneys, whereas “Deputy” sounds more like, say, a Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD, which is a very high ranking job. I consider it a step up in accuracy from calling you a “District Attorney,” which I’ve seen in more than a few places – at least New York readers will automatically and correctly discern what your actual job is.

    Crank (3fed2a)

  15. Heh. Over at Just One Minute we’re promotinbg you Patterico. We’ve got you as Supreme Court Nominee and Attorney General so far.

    Dwilkers (a1687a)

  16. Ah. We have now come to the “threats” portion of the entertainment, I see.

    S. Weasel (ed7c8f)

  17. Zuma Hans: Welcome from another Web site. As passionate as the moderator is here, rest assured you will be treated with much more fairness and intellect, both missing ingredients in the whole KM equation.

    I don’t agree with your political views, but on a similar wavelength I too have wondered how a blog like this can be done expediently. The exceptional research, the quality and frequency of posts, the detailed inclusion of links… I’m not going to hurl accusations at Patterico, but in all fairness, I too have wondered how it’s possible to execute the duties of a busy prosecutor’s desk while single-handedly corraling the liberal media into an uncomfortable position of accountability.

    Ultimately, Hiltzik used false aliases to support his own posts, and at various political sites. It’s not the use of anonymity, it’s the dishonesty of his status as a Paid Employee of the LAT, someone who is not an anonymous blogger without corporate ties.

    Patterico’s findings are based on total accuracy, always with links provided.

    Yet the LAT continues in its rich tradition of spin control by trying to rephrase all this as silly blog pseudonyms, as opposed to what it really is: a paid reporter writing under false names to support his own viewpoints! It’s deceptive and misleading. It’s dishonest journalism.

    Maybe Patterico is one of those lucky people who operates on only 4-5 hours of sleep.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  18. The concept that Hiltzik used his pseudonyms to praise and defend each other is apparently just beyond the capability of journalists to understand — even at the (supposedly) most prestigious paper in the land.

    Would it matter if the pseudonyms disagreed with him, as opposed to praised him?

    actus (ebc508)

  19. actus:

    What in the world are you trying to defend? A person’s right to post multiple comments under multiple tags on someone else’s blog?

    And if that person decides to post disagreeing opinions under different pseudonyms, somehow that’s okay?

    Let’s try a little common sense here.

    What is the purpose of comments? To allow readers to provide feedback. And, in some cases, to supplement the original post with either corrections, additional information, or related information.

    Under those circumstances, exactly what is the purpose of posting under multiple names? From my observations, it is to generate a (false) impression of consensus, the equivalent of shouting down others. Or spamming. Or bidding under multiple names on E-Bay, in order to drive up prices (something, btw, which I believe is actually illegal, under E-bay rules).

    What possible purpose could there be in posting under multiple names that disagree with each other?

    If it’s to posit “on the one hand, on the other hand,” you can do that under one name.

    Methinks you’re simply throwing hypotheticals around, now that the “it’s b/c he posted under a pseudonym” red herring has begun to stink from the head.

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  20. What possible purpose could there be in posting under multiple names that disagree with each other?

    To see which one gets responded to, for one.

    But i’m curious to examine if its the multiple pseudonmys that bothered people, or the fact that they agreed with each other.

    actus (ebc508)

  21. LO asked, “What is the purpose of comments?”

    His list omits one important purpose: so trolls can occupy themselves at other’s expense. Trolls use a variety of methods designed to entice commenters, or the host, into time wasting activities which feed the troll’s ego. Shifting the debate off-topic is one of the most common tricks, games of “let’s fight” or even better, “let’s you and him fight” is another.

    Making trite, silly, or incomprehensible arguments, or strawman arguments are also examples of trolls. Specific methods can be as numerous as the imagination is inventive. And, it’s not always the same dodge, they go back and forth between actual comments and attempts to disrupt in order to give themselves cover. Keep your eyes open and don’t feed the trolls.

    Check out the Urban Dictionary for an exhaustive description.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  22. Do Bloggers Need a Code of Ethics?

    B.L. Ochman says bloggers need a code of ethics. I’ve always resisted this idea because blogging seems so…free. But I’ve always known that I’m subject to a “code laws” and would be liable for libeling someone. I&#82…

    The Language Artist: Business Blog Consulting (1b383c)

  23. Re #21
    Hopefully that was a general description and not referring to anyone specific. (I recognized a name; a strident liberal poster from another site, but that’s it.)

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  24. actus wrote:

    But i’m curious to examine if its the multiple pseudonmys that bothered people, or the fact that they agreed with each other.

    If they agree, it’s like stuffing a ballot box. If they disagree, it’s an outright manufacturing of debate. In either case it’s like filling an audience with ringers rather than independent legitimate paying customers just to jack up attendance numbers.

    Jim C. (e2d5dc)

  25. Or not even “paying customers” per se. But just the guarantee of truthfulness.

    When Dr. Laura was trying to launch a TV show, there was so much hostility that they actually used staffers as guests – describing imaginary problems while using their real first names. Only Phil Hendrie gets away with faking it. His act is great. News is black and white (/little print joke).

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  26. I wasn’t going to respond to Zuma Hans, but with Vermont Neighbor’s expression of doubt…. well, it irritates the hell out of me to see aspersions cast on Pat’s prosecution career because he runs the blog.

    I don’t have any direct knowledge of Pat’s prosecution skills, but he’s trying serious cases in the LADA’s office, knows the triad for robbery better than some other public commenters…. I’m guessing a dedicated scrapper like Pat isn’t phoning it in. That’s a pretty educated guess.

    Prosecution, done right, is hard work. A lot of thinking goes on in the off-hours; how do I try this case? How will this angle play to a jury? Should I dismiss this problematic case where I have concerns? How can I send this career criminal away until he’s dead?

    But that doesn’t mean you have to live at the office, never to watch a baseball game, see your family, or drink a beer. If you know nothing about Pat’s professional career, don’t speculate that he sucks at it. Because that’s exceedingly unlikely to be the way to bet.

    –JRM

    JRM (5e00de)

  27. Hey Actus, that’s silly.

    Al (2e2489)

  28. Al, that’s not an argument.

    Please don’t diss my buddy actus.

    Not Al (2e2489)

  29. Clearly this is a very useful topic of discussion Not Al.

    Not.

    Al (2e2489)

  30. JRM,

    I appreciate that more than you know.

    I haven’t gotten much sleep lately, starting with when I posted the original Hiltzik post. You can check the time I posted it, btw, folks, if you’re interested.

    For some reason, I thought this was an important issue, so I have gotten very little sleep lately, in an effort to stay on top of it. I think readers have benefitted from this.

    And to have someone (Vermont Neighbor), who I thought was a supporter, sign on to the nasty, threatening implications of a lefty (almost certainly a lefty journalist) — that rankles. Especially when you’re tired.

    So thanks.

    P

    Patterico (156eed)

  31. you know, I appreciate your speaking out and just saying that. I didn’t mean to sound forward… which is probably a euphemism in this case for blunt or rude.

    Time management. The real question is, if I may attempt a U-turn, this blog is constantly updated and looks fantastic. Obviously, there’s someone very capable and zooming at 200 miles an hour when the rest of us are chugging along at 55. At least me.

    It’s pretty evident that Patterico is outstanding at research and analysis, and I apologize for anything that implied his duties aren’t 110% with his work.

    To include what is most impressive about the information here:

    “The exceptional research, the quality and frequency of posts, the detailed inclusion of links…”

    Again my apologies.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  32. Part of it, honestly, is Bloglines. I have about 30-40 sites that I regularly check, and Bloglines makes it easy. If I keep up with my Bloglines reading, I am not going to miss anything, and I’ll be more informed than the average bear — or the average journalist.

    Patterico (156eed)

  33. Zuma Hans,

    I know it’s hard for you to understand, but there are people who use their time efficiently. It’s what makes them successful and allows them to accomplish considerably more than those who spend their time watching Jerry Springer and feeling sorry for themselves.

    I’ve met Patrick and know how seriously he takes his job. In addition, he’s a devoted husband and father of two really cute kids. Quite a balancing act if you ask me.

    So please, first thing tomorrow morning, take a few bong hits and start your investigation. Let us know how it turns out.

    Jeff C. (428193)

  34. Patterico, again (since I just read your post), I certainly wasn’t supporting a letter campaign or the idea that you aren’t top-notch and totally passionate about your work. And the outcome of each and every case.

    Yes, I did re-read my post so I see that wording. Too blunt. I was answering an aggressor so I stayed in that same lingo. Yep, dumb indeed.

    I am a P supporter, I would like to think! I’ve followed these amazing posts as closely as anyone, and there’s no way of conveying how impressive it all is. I’m totally dumbfounded at how you even incorporate all this into your day.

    If it had said “Unlike you, I’m not going to __” etc, etc – I think that would’ve addressed the person w/o sounding in agreement.

    My apologies again. A googol of apologies. …

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  35. Bloglines. Okay. Now what are the sites you check — or is it a trade secret?

    Bradley (e619fc)

  36. I think Patterico will become a household name as this thing moves forward. Obviously, in news and media circles but also anything to do with the original story.

    It’s got legs. Tip of the iceberg. LAT has got to face this head-on because the days of gently massaging a story are over — over and out. Take your place in history, sir! You should be darn proud.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  37. [...] Which leads Patterico to ask: have you ever read any article in Big Media, about any topic where you had intimate personal knowledge of the facts, where they didn’t screw up something? Of course you haven’t. I have never met anyone who has. [...]

    PrestoPundit » Blog Archive » Patterico in the NY Times (d881ce)

  38. Nope. I’ll copy my list of Daily Reads, as long as nobody gets pissed that they’re not there. I read other stuff, too, but this is the Golden List:

    A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days
    Ace of Spades HQ
    BeldarBlog (where is *that* guy nowadays?)
    Bench Memos
    Big Lizards
    The Buck Stops Here
    Captain’s Quarters
    Confirm Them
    damnum absque injuria (Xrlq)
    Dispatches from the Culture Wars
    Golden State (ah, but for how long?)
    How Appealing
    Hugh Hewitt
    Instapundit.com
    The Interocitor (rare poster)
    iowahawk
    JustOneMinute
    L.A. Observed
    Link Mecca (defunct?)
    Michelle Malkin
    OrinKerr.com
    Political Animal (the only lefty site I always read)
    Power Line
    PressThink
    ProfessorBainbridge.com
    protein wisdom
    Rantingprofs
    The RCP Blog
    Right Wing Nut House
    Romenesko
    Spartac.us (hardly ever posts)
    The Spoons Experience (basically defunct)
    SteynOnline
    Tim Blair
    The Volokh Conspiracy
    Winds of Change.NET

    I guess that’s about 36 blogs, but 6-7 almost never post. So it’s more like 30. Most days, it’s easy enough to keep up with. Read the new posts in the morning, at lunch, after work, and at night. You’re totally informed.

    As I say, there are others I read quite often. Baldilocks, PrestoPundit, SoCalLawBlog, Lex Communis, just to name a few.

    Patterico (156eed)

  39. They are overachievers … and then there are the rest of us! : >

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  40. And now that I’m creating typos (above), I’ll sign off and wish everyone a great night.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  41. Thank you, Patterico. Anything to let me scour more sites more quickly.

    Bradley (e619fc)

  42. “Zuma Hans” = Hiltzik?

    [No. — P]

    Frank IBC (ca2773)

  43. Patterico

    good job and FYI check this at JOM

    “Ass-Welt” Journalism

    Howard Kurtz is fascinating on the topic of “Blogs: Good or Evil” but I take exception to this dichotomy:

    A better series of questions: What can MSM types learn from blogs, both in terms of criticism of their work and as a more freewheeling form of communication? Should reporters blog, and if so, what are the boundaries? Would blogs be more of a factor in public debate if more of their practitioners did a little research — say, including the very old-fashioned notion of calling people up — instead of merely pontificating?

    http://justoneminute.typepad.com/

    Didn’t Mr Kurtz do some pontificating on the Hiltzik affair? Maybe you should contact him and ask why he didn’t call you

    windansea (7855eb)


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