Patterico's Pontifications

4/24/2006

Kurtz’s Second Look at Hiltzik

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Hiltzik,Media Bias — Patterico @ 6:43 am



The Hiltzik blog suspension is the first item in Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes column today. Howard, who wrote the Post‘s initial news article on the debacle, still doesn’t seem to understand: It’s not the pseudonyms. It’s the sock-puppetry! The concept of Hiltzik’s pseudonyms defending and praising each other doesn’t come across at all, which is what allows a Hiltzik defender quoted in the column to say this:

It’s unclear why Hiltzik would take such a risk, but not everyone is critical. Claude Brodesser, who writes a Los Angeles column for the Web site Media Bistro, writes that anonymous posting is part of the Internet culture and that even reporters should enjoy that freedom. “Hiltzik might have cloaked his identity — something seemingly at variance with the Times’ policies — but what he did was hardly lying or, for that matter, extortion,” Brodesser says.

This is the official media spin coming across in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the AP: Hiltzik’s error was using pseudonyms. The End.

Aaargh. Maybe sheer repetition will drive the point home. It’s not the pseudonyms. It’s the sock-puppetry!

Kurtz does discuss Hiltzik’s e-mail snooping incident, and quotes some inflammatory stuff that Hiltzik put out under his own name:

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times hasn’t exactly been pulling his punches.

He has ripped “the right-wing noise machine Hugh Hewitt,” calling the radio host a “close-minded nincompoop” who parades his “ignorance” and shows “his sedulous devotion, like a sucking remora fish, to the imploding George W. Bush.”

He has assailed “the reactionary Kate O’Beirne” for suffering a “loss of bladder control” in her televised comments.

He has slammed Los Angeles writer Cathy Seipp as “one of those people whose desire to Tell it Like it Is tends to be hampered by lack of information.”

Which makes the sock-puppetry even more perplexing. It’s not like Mikekoshi said the nasty stuff that Hiltzik wasn’t willing to say using his own name . . .

P.S. One of my commenters has this observation regarding the media’s overlooking the sock-puppetry angle:

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.

Yup.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

UPDATE x2: But why the WaPo kill the initial, much funnier headline for the column?

59 Responses to “Kurtz’s Second Look at Hiltzik”

  1. In the interest of finding out exactly how you’ve felt lately, I’m going to find a nice big brick wall and jump into it for a while. My tentative hypothesis is that it is going to be enlightening and effervescent, but I’ll be sure and post my conclusion later.

    srl (bc5d83)

  2. “Which makes the sock-puppetry even more perplexing.”

    Not really. The sock-puppetry wasn’t for the freedom to anonymously spout vitriol, but an attempt to fake a consensus on vitriol he had no problem spouting.

    He made up supporters; he’s a liar. That’s not perplexing.

    What’s perplexing is why he would be so devoted to extreme rhetoric if he didn’t believe real actual people would support it.

    DJ (b6906b)

  3. People who have no external measure of right and wrong tend to use consensus for a measurement. Hence all the concern on the Left for how the “rest of the world” sees us, rather than an objective look at what we are doing. Hence the emphasis on opinion polls rather than argument.

    So what Hiltzik is extra-special wrong in his own milieu: he tried to manufacture consensus.

    S. Weasel (ed7c8f)

  4. The MSM at its best.

    Carlos's sock puppet (98df3a)

  5. Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

    Jim Treacher (f69e1b)

  6. Maybe MSM would understand it better if you compared it to shilling bids at Ebay. Where sellers have used different ID’s to bid up the price on their items. Hiltzig was trying to bid up his reputation on the blogs by the use of his sock puppets.

    Meatss (eb94c1)

  7. While the term “sock-puppetry” is certainly colorful and entertaining, if you want to drive a point home with non-internet people, you have to have use non-internet terminology.

    I recommend using the term “shilling for himself” to describe Hiltzik’s behavior.

    The term “shill” has a very well-established meaning. It is reminiscent of the 19th century con man. It’s also a rathery ugly-sounding word (for an ugly practice). Sock-puppetry, in contrast, almost sounds like fun.

    Hiltzik didn’t merely use a pseudonym. He was a shill for himself.

    Phinn (9a5171)

  8. For what it’s worth, John Lott defenders are still excusing his Mary Rosh sock by casting it as mere use of a pseudonym.

    Tim Lambert (04d02b)

  9. I think that one factor is that MSM has relied on a form of sock puppets for decades. I’m thinking of all the “nonpartisan” organizations that provide clean quotes for partisan purposes.

    If a Clinton spin doctor says that Bush is stupid, well that does not do much for the story about the president’s intelligence. But if the operative forms a Coalition for Intelligent Counter-terrorism and issues a statement over the signature of a willing academic, then it is a front page story. Coalition may exist only as a letterhead, but it seems more important than a few Clintonistas complaining.

    craig henry (10e85c)

  10. Was Clinton’s impeachment all about sex or was it about lying in a federal court? I think we all know what the MSM was pushing.

    Jack Wayne (acf391)

  11. Poor Claude just doesn’t get it. But I wonder how many people even read Media Bistro’s Fish Bowl LA since he took over? The guy who used to do it, Mike S., didn’t break news either but he had such a funny way of putting things people always checked in just to see what he’d say. Claude just recaps and it’s dull, dull, dull.

    Cathy Seipp (17eb94)

  12. There is a very simple reason for the MSM focus on pseudonyms. It meshes with their image and criticism of the blogoshpere as a medium in which noone is accountable for their actions and everyone hides behind a false identity. For many in the journalism business the “crime” of using a pseudonym is so much “beneath” a respected and trusted journalist that any malice practiced behind the curtain of anonymity is simply a given.

    I do agree, though, then until the charming and colorful expression “sock puppetry” is more lexically established a more illuminating and clearer picture is made by comparing his practice to the age-old one of hiring payed shills to cheer and echo. Compare what Hiltzik did to the Administration paying for good PR and see if they get the point. Of course, the fact that you don’t have to pay yourself makes the former much easier to practice on a personal level.

    submandave (9ae3af)

  13. Tim Lambert:

    For what it’s worth, John Lott defenders are still excusing his Mary Rosh sock by casting it as mere use of a pseudonym.

    …he said, citing no examples – nor any hints as to why this statement, if true, would be relevant to Hiltzik’s case.

    Xrlq (ff94f2)

  14. It’s the “I’m rubber, you’re glue” defense, Xrlq.

    S. Weasel (ed7c8f)

  15. Lott and Hiltzik both made up imaginary Internet friends to deceive people.

    Bradley J. Fikes (2301aa)

  16. Neat. But that doesn’t mean Lambert’s alleged “fact” about unnamed Lott supporters casting the Mary Rosh incident as innocent pseudonymy has anything to do with the MSM doing the same for one of their own.

    Xrlq (ff94f2)

  17. Of course, XRLQ.

    But the case of the MSM, I have a sneaking suspicion that the inaccuracies may not be purposeful. These reporters may truly just not understand what’s the issue.

    Patterico made an important comment, that all the bloggers got what was wrong with sock puppets. That’s because they are dealing with the issue constantly. Few reporters blog, and newspapers generally discourage it. So they don’t get to experience what it’s like.

    My guess is that a lot of the reporters are going “Huh”? They simply have no conceptual basis to understand.

    Bradley J. Fikes (2301aa)

  18. I’m at a loss to understand what’s so difficult to grasp, Bradley. It has an equivalent in the dead tree world: writing letters to the editor under a pseudonym to praise your own work in the paper.

    I doubt many in the journalism biz would fail to put their finger on the problem with that.

    S. Weasel (ed7c8f)

  19. Maybe sheer repetition will drive the point home.

    Yep, that’s their strategy. It’s easy when you have a huge echo chamber.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  20. My semi-educated guess is that when it comes to blogs, many in the MSM just blank out. There’s a mental block. Just read Daniel Henninger’s recent piece in the WSJ, or this one.

    We have failure to communicate.

    Bradley J. Fikes (2301aa)

  21. It’s all about framing the argument….We’ve come a long way, but the big boys are still firmly in control.

    Indeed. As soon as the McCarthy story broke, I knew that they’d circle the wagons, and I told myself not to let the spin get to me, but I can’t help it. It’s enraging. She’s a hero, she’s a whistleblower, Bush did it too, in fact what Bush did was worse, yada yada. Aaarrrrggghhh.

    CraigC (28872d)

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

    Well at least the NYT stock has tanks 40% in the last 5 years. So they are feeling some heat and some pain.

    Perfect Sense (024110)

  23. Patrick, I don’t think it’s spin. For a reporter to misrepresent himself or herself has long been viewed in the newspaper world as a major ethical lapse. As such, it looms large in the culture and consciousness of American journalists and that’s why it has gotten so much emphasis in press accounts of this episode.

    To surreptitiously try to shape online debate through false identities magnifies the offense, but the “cardinal sin” (if you will) has already been committed — i.e., misrepresenting oneself in the first place.

    That’s my sense of the psychology at work. Perhaps Brad, who’s a working journalist, can shed additional light.

    Tim McGarry (798820)

  24. Bradley,

    I haven’t seen Henninger’s article. It’s behind a “log-in” requirement with which I refuse to comply. Sorry, but I’m stubborn and it’s a point with me. I did read Last’s article and found it insipid. And, I should admit that in my youth, I was a paper boy, and was publisher of my college daily.

    Now, while you’re still a member in good standing among the MSM’s faithful, it doesn’t prevent you from clearly grasping the significance of Hiltzik’s sock puppetry. I suspect a few of your more Internet literate brethren in NY and LA do as well, but even many of them will steadfastly decline to acknowledge it. Those folks may work in the nation’s major news bureaus but, they aren’t doing real journalism, they’re behaving like charlatans.

    OTOH, I agree with you there’s no doubt a great many MSM journalists really don’t understand Hiltzik’s fundamental deceits, they’re simply not blog savvy, but that’s ordinary ignorance of the sort which in-service training was designed to overcome. However, you say, “Few reporters blog, and newspapers generally discourage it.” Taken together we see conflicting currents which can help explain the inability of honest reporters and editors to grasp the salient issues. (S. Weasel at #18 offers a useful suggestion which might put it in perspective.)

    So, some in MSM get it and some don’t. Some of those who do get it are pretending not to understand what the fuss is all about. Nothing unusual there, happens all the time. But, this isn’t just another example of MSM incompetence and/or dissembling. Hiltzik is a Pulitzer Prize winner. He knows better, and so do many of his defenders, and so does anyone who cares enough to “Read All About It!” on-line.

    Bottom line, today you have to go on-line for news, because you can’t get the straight forward story from MSM. Worse yet, if you try to get the facts from MSM, what you get is more often than not either incompetence or outright deception. So, what’s the point of kicking a dead horse?

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  25. Bradley:
    I think that many of the MSM commenters never read the original Patterico article in full. His original post explains the issue quite clearly and anticpates Hiltzig’s “well, everyone on the blogs uses pseudonyms” defense. Hiltziks non-response response to Frey is the discussion that they would prefer because it puts the blogosphere on trial rather then one of their fellow “serious journalists”. All over the MSM and the more liberal end of the blogosphere Hiltziks strawman argument is being discussed, more then the particulars of what Hiltzig did.The big picture discussion of whether or not psuedonyms are a good or bad is a good discussion to have but not to shield Hiltzig from crtique from his actions.

    Kevin Peters (92760e)

  26. Tim, I agree that misrepresentation is the key issue, and that presumably, the MSM understands this at some level. However, the element of deception depends on “sock puppetry” in particular; it does not arise solely by virtue of the use of pseudonyms per se. This is especially so for obvious pseudonyms like “mikekoshi,” “workingjournalist,” “Actus,” “Xrlq,” which pretty much scream out “I’m some guy posting anonymously,” thereby leaving little room for deception.

    On the flip side, suppose that Patterico were to do the exact reverse of Hiltzik’s stunt, posting a series of comments on various blogs under two plausible versions of his real name, with both alter-egos routinely gushing over what a brilliant guy that “Patterico” fellow is, and droning on about how gosh durned stooopid his opponents are. Under L.A. Times guidelines, the original blog would be objectionable, but the shill-posts would be not be. This is exactly backwards of how it should be.

    Xrlq (ff94f2)

  27. Tim,

    The Times policy, quoted by Hugh Hewitt, forbids reporters from using any alias. However, Hiltzik already had blatantly violated the policy by his insulting comments. The Times blogging policy states that the reporter/blogger should not write anything that he or she wouldn’t be permitted to write in the print edition of the Times. (I presume reporters aren’t allowed to call people “quacking lunatics” in the Times print edition, or say they are racists).

    Of course, this policy concerns activities as a reporter. Presumably if Hiltzik were merely using an alias for a purely private activity not connected with reporting, there might not be a problem.

    One permissiable use might be for participating in an online gaming group. I doubt that would cause a fuss. Another example: if a reporter is taking part in an online disease support group (as a patient, not as a reporter), an alias or pseudonym might be appropriate.

    What is not appropriate, where the line is drawn, (I am guessing) is using the alias as an imaginary friend to attack the reporter’s opponents, either on the Times blog or elsewhere. So if someone disparages Hiltzik by name, he has to reply under his own name.

    And I suspect this is what finally pushed the Times to act — even though the paper has not spelled it out in so many words. Perhaps it hasn’t even articulated its own reasoning.

    But considering how many hurdles Times reporters have to go through to blog, it amazes me that the Times would offer a blog to such a known loose cannon as Hiltzik.

    Perhaps someone at the LA Times will stop by here (Dean B., are you reading this?) and clear up the precise nature of Hiltzik’s offense — and how the line is drawn.

    Bradley J. Fikes (2301aa)

  28. How come you guys are so exercised about people using pseudonyms on the internet???? Sheesh!!!

    😉

    not-masha (43ec26)

  29. Black Jack and others,

    Yes, some MSMers get it, some don’t. I wonder also if some who get it can’t put the full explanation, because it would seem too complicated (in the editors’ view) for the readers.

    As to Henninger’s piece, I will quote a few grafs from the top:

    When Blogs Rule
    We Will All
    Talk Like —-

    “Kevin Ray Underwood, the repressed Oklahoma cannibal, kept an Internet “blog” of his compulsions for years before kidnapping and killing a 10-year-old neighbor last week. On his blog, Kevin wrote a lot about Kevin: “The reason for my lackluster social life is a severe case of social anxiety and depression. I’m on medication now, which helps a lot. Well, in ways.”

    “I don’t think the blogosphere is breeding cannibals. But it looks to me as if the world of blogs may be filling up with people who for the previous 200 millennia of human existence kept their weird thoughts more or less to themselves. Now, they don’t have to. They’ve got the Web. Now they can share.”

    – – – – –

    Now excuse me, time for lunch.

    Bradley J. Fikes (2301aa)

  30. Oh, no, it’s much worse than that, Bradley. They not only share, they can find each other. And breed.

    S. Weasel (e16cf7)

  31. Tim McGarry, #24:

    Yes, that was and is my gut reaction, too. Maybe prompted by (agreeing with) Patterico’s follow-up post which called the LA Times blog a noble experiment. That the Times wanted to blog according to journalistic standards. So that they see the pseudonimity as the crime and the sock-puppetry as the instrumentality(?).

    nk (54c569)

  32. When I was in fourth grade, we had a secret ballot for class president. The one rule was, you could not vote for yourself. One fellow wanted it really badly, and voted for himself anyway. It was the only vote he got, and when everyone looked at the ballots, it was obvious from the handwriting and other clues that he’d done it. Someone voiced the accusation, but it didn’t even have to be said. The poor guy was horribly embarassed–I still rememember how crimson red his face turned. His reputation never recovered.

    I suppose you could say that if the election was close, the kid’s vote for himself could have caused damage. But the fact that he had to write in his own name suggests why his vote could never have influenced the result.

    That kid was just like Michael Hiltzik. Forget whether he violated the L.A. Times’ “ethics” policy. Obviously the pseudonym issue is a straw dog, but in the grand scheme of things, what Hiltzik did was harmless. No one who previously enjoyed Seipp, or Hewitt, or yourself was going to “see the light” as a result of Hiltzik’s childish insults. The damage is to Hiltzik himself. If and when (and wherever) he returns, no one will read him the same way they did before.

    If the Times does fire him, they’ll cloak it in the ethics fog, but the real reason will be they don’t want to have to look at Michael Hiltzik’s red face anymore, or listen to his rationalizations.

    John Stodder (41fbc5)

  33. Here is what we need to do to get the point across to Kurtz. Get his office PHONE NUMBER, call him up and leave a voice mail message explaining the difference. Then call him AGAIN, and give a different name, say the same thing, and state that you agree with the previous caller who just left a voice mail message with him. Then do it AGAIN with a 3rd name, etc. etc. until you fill up his voice mail. You don’t even need to disguise your voice – just use a different name each time.

    Maybe then we would finally understand what is going on here…..maybe…..

    Justin Levine (20f2b5)

  34. Aw, cripes, Stodder. Thanks for feeding that horrible little datum into the memory banks. Now, when I wake up at 2am thinking about what a small, sad arsehole of a life it is, really, I’ll have one more exhibit in evidence.

    S. Weasel (e16cf7)

  35. I like Justin’s idea, but with a twist: do put on a different voice each time, just don’t do a very good job of it. The hammier and more cartoonish the voices, the better.

    Xrlq (ff94f2)

  36. Maybe MSM would understand it better if you compared it to shilling bids at Ebay. Where sellers have used different ID’s to bid up the price on their items. Hiltzig was trying to bid up his reputation on the blogs by the use of his sock puppets.

    Like astro-turfing?

    He should have hired a PR firm to congratulate him a lot. That would be legitimate. That’s how money convinces. The rest of us have to settle for pseudonimity.

    actus (ebc508)

  37. #7. phinn

    While the term “sock-puppetry” is certainly colorful and entertaining, if you want to drive a point home with non-internet people, you have to have use non-internet terminology.

    Well, how about this: setting aside the sock puppetry, which is an internet no-no, and apparently a technical violation of the LATimes’ rules, pales in comparison with the fact that Hiltzik, on at least one occasion, attacked Sen. Specter, then posted a copy of his attack as “mikekoshi” to Patterico’s blog, then reported (in his blog) that Sen. Specter was under attack “even in a conservative blog.”

    Why is this not inventing a source, an infraction in all other cases punishable by firing, and general expulsion from the hallowed halls of media? Seen in this light, I cannot imagine anyone defending Hiltzik in good faith.

    If I were to find fault with Patterico’s deconstruction of Hiltzik’s alter-ego inflation, I would have to say that it presented too much damning information, which allowed the MSM to cherry-pick the facts it wanted to (and when has the MSM ever done that?).

    Redhawke (c5c332)

  38. Yep, sock-puppetry as a term is still kinda vague even after reading the comments.

    By the way, also a working newspaper editor here and Redhawke’s point about inventing sources is the strongest case to get Hiltzik fired. The others were suspendable offenses, IMHO.

    Temple Stark (42d5e1)

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

    Perfect Sense has it right. They are only in control as long as people keep buying their product. I urge everyone reading here to never give another dime to this company. I’ve made a lifestyle of avoiding all of the major news outlets. I don’t miss them at all.

    William Wilson (601f85)

  40. […] This morning I mentioned that Howard Kurtz had discussed Michael Hiltzik, in a Media Notes column titled To Blog or Not to Blog. But I have discovered that when Kurtz’s column first appeared, it boasted a much funnier headline: Columnist’s Blog: He Hasn’t Been Himself Lately. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » WaPo Kills Funny Headline Re Hiltzik (421107)

  41. Lott supporter Xrlq asks for examples of Lott supporters casting Mary Rosh as just a pseudonym. Here’s a recent one:

    And when people reacted to the signature on his emails rather than his arguements, be started using a pseudonym; no matter what the excuse or reason, it made him look foolish.

    And here is Glenn Reynolds on Mary Rosh:

    Lott has not covered himself with glory in this matter, and the pseudonymous-posting thing is kind of weird (though, um, certain bloggers are not in a position to criticize pseudonymous argument too much, and raising it after the main claim seemed to have been laid to rest seemed a bit cheesy to me).

    I suppose we should be grateful that Reynolds has at last realised that there is something wrong with using a sock puppet.

    Tim Lambert (04d02b)

  42. And here’s xrlq denying that Lott’s use of a sock puppet was dishonest:

    Clearly, that was a stupid thing to do. Ultimately, however, “Mary Rosh’s” arguments, like those Lott advances under his own name, stand or fall on their merits, not on the name under which they were offered. It’s not as though there is a real Mary Rosh out there, and Lott bolstered his credibility by exploiting her good name.

    Tim Lambert (04d02b)

  43. And once again, surprise of all surprises here’s Tim Lambert lying through his teeth. Had he not yanked this partial quote out of context, it would be clear to all that I emphatically did not deny that it was dishonest for Lott, or anyone else, to create a false persona. What I did deny was Lambert’s bizarre view that creating a persona based on a fawning student was special in this regard. Of course Lambert knows this, having read not only the snippet he quoted, but also this:

    As to Mary Rosh, I’ve already said that stunt was unacceptable. I don’t know what special significance you attach to the “my favorite professor” part, one way or the other. Creating a phony persona was bad. Doing so by casting that persona as a starry-eyed student doesn’t make that any better or worse in my book. I for one am no more likely to believe the results of any professor’s reseach solely because an ex-student, real or imagined, tells me that Prof. So-and-So was his/her favorite professor. Are you?

    And just in case things weren’t obvious enough already, there’s this:

    Lott pretending to be Mary Rosh – serious.
    Casting Mary Rosh as a starry eyed student – not serious.

    The lesson is: if Tim Lambert tells you it’s noon, step outside and check your shadow.

    Xrlq (061a15)

  44. […] Ironically, Patterico, the blogger who first revealed Hiltik’s secret identity, has been making a similar argument: “It’s not the pseudonyms. It’s the sock-puppetry!” […]

    Info/Law » Use and abuse of anonymous blogging (1e4734)

  45. Lott casting Mary Rosh as a starry-eyed student made the sock puppetry worse. We were supposed to take the account more credibly, because “Rosh” was an eyewitness to Lott’s brilliance. Adding verisimilitude to a lie, as it were.

    Bradley (e619fc)

  46. Oh, please. Every university instructor has a fawning student or two who thinks they walk on water. That part adds zero in the way of credibility, beyond that of any other virtual warm body. To have truly made the sock puppetry worse, Lott would have had to invent a virtual identity with virtual credibility of its own, e.g., another academic.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  47. Bradley and Xrlq:

    Making up someone is bad. Making up someone as though they were an eyewitness to your wisdom is worse.

    BUT

    At least, as Xrlq suggests, it was a fawning student. They might think you walk on water, or they might be brown-nosers.

    Think of how much worse it would have been if the sock-puppet had been Sandy Popfield, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who hated guns until Professor Lott had opened their eyes to the benefits and realities of private ownership of guns!

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  48. XRLQ-

    “To have truly made the sock puppetry worse, Lott would have had to invent a virtual identity with virtual credibility of its own, e.g., another academic.”

    Inventing another academic is risky. They have affiliations that can be traced. Inventing a student is safer — or so Lott thought.

    Your basic error is thinking about this as if
    Lott was crafting this persona to fool the likes of you. He wasn’t.

    Lott was trying to burnish his credibility for those who didn’t know much about him, and hadn’t made up their minds about him.

    If Lott didn’t have this goal in mind, there was no point in such embellishment.

    Bradley (e619fc)

  49. Lott was trying to burnish his credibility for those who didn’t know much about him, and hadn’t made up their minds about him.

    He was trying to burnish his credibility for Julian Sanchez of Reason magazine. If your position is that Sanchez, like half the yahoos on Reason’s staff nowadays, is a clueless boob who doesn’t know much about Lott or anyone else, then I guess I can’t really argue with that. I seriously doubt that Lott was banking on that, however, let alone that Reason’s staff had not made up their mind on such a bread-and-butter libertarian issue as gun control.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  50. If Lott didn’t have this goal in mind, there was no point in such embellishment.

    Sure there was. Any fake character required some embellishment, if only to explain why that person was so knowledgeable about, and interested in, Lott’s research. Female characters especially, as fewer women are interested in statistical regressions than men – to say nothing of guns.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  51. Xrlq:

    “Any fake character required some embellishment, if only to explain why that person was so knowledgeable about, and interested in, Lott’s research.”

    An interesting contention. What kind of embellishment did Hiltzik provide for his fake characters?

    As for the Reason/gun control thing, I’m in the dark. Doubtless you’ve explained it on your Web site.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1a3936)

  52. Yes, let’s look at some context. I challenged xrlq with “find one case where I called Lott dishonest, and mount a defence of his conduct.” He quoted me:

    He pretended to be a woman called “Mary Rosh” on the internet in order to praise his own research and accuse his critics of fraud.

    Now there’s two parts to that. Using a pseudonym “Mary Rosh” which isn’t dishonest, and using “Mary Rosh” as a sockpuppet to praise his own research.
    Now look at xrlq’s rejoinder:

    Clearly, that was a stupid thing to do. Ultimately, however, “Mary Rosh’s” arguments, like those Lott advances under his own name, stand or fall on their merits, not on the name under which they were offered. It’s not as though there is a real Mary Rosh out there, and Lott bolstered his credibility by exploiting her good name.

    and

    This entry wasn’t really about your flimsy claims that John Lott is dishonest,

    Xrlq is saying that using “Mary Rosh” was “a stupid thing to do” and denying that it was dishonest. In the ensuing exchange I emphasised again and again that was the sock puppetry that was dishonest, not the mere use of a pseudonym:

    Mary Rosh claimed that Lott was the best professor that I ever had, but you pretend that it wouldn’t have made a difference if he had posted the same thing under his own name.

    And, when Mary Rosh claimed that Lott was the best professor that she ever had, there was no dishonesty? Is that your position?

    Using Mary Rosh to praise Lott as the best professor she ever had goes beyond creating a persona and is a dishonest use of such a persona. Would the statement have worked if he had posted it under his own name? Clearly not. Does this make “Mary Rosh” more effective at propounding Lott’s research? No, but he was doing it for a petty ego boost. Another example is that even though Lott had failed to get tenure, Mary had promoted him to chaired professor. And even though Lott admitted that his use of Mary Rosh was “wrong”, the very next day he was posting again using another pseudonym.

    “Casting Mary Rosh as a starry eyed student”. He wasn’t doing it to create a character, but to praise his own teaching, research and objectivity. His other sock puppet, Washingtonian, also praised Lott’s scholarship.

    Xrlq brushed all of this off, and kept characterizing Rosh’s sock puppetry as “casting Mary Rosh as s starry eyed student”. He even asserted that there was nothing wrong with Lott’s use of his “Washingtonian” sock puppet.

    I blog pseudonymously myself, of course, but I do so under a name no one with an above-room temperature IQ would mistake for my real identity. That’s why I’m OK with “Washingtonian” but not “Mary Rosh.”

    Tim Lambert (04d02b)

  53. Xrlq is a starry-eyed fan of John Lott’s from way back and is mad at Julian Sanchez because he exposed Lott’s sock puppetry. Xrlq has falsely accused both Julian and me of using sock puppets.

    Tim Lambert (04d02b)

  54. Well, both you and Xrlq agree that Lott and Hiltzik have committed sock puppetry. And both of you agree their sock puppetry was unethical.

    Right?

    Bradley J. Fikes (1a3936)

  55. Bradley, I didn’t even know about Hiltzik’s fake characters before Patterico broke this story, so I’ll have to defer to Patterico on the question of what embellishment, if any, Hiltzik may have used for his characters. I don’t think he really needed to, though, because any random joe can comment on the news or on the brilliance of any particular journalist, as opposed to some arcane academic study.

    As for the Reason/gun control thing, I’m in the dark. Doubtless you’ve explained it on your Web site.

    I haven’t, but it’s simple enough so here goes. Reason is, was, and has always been a libertarian-leaning magazine. Libertarians are almost unanimously pro-Second Amendment, in opposition to gun control of any kind. Thus, at the time of his exchange with Sanchez, it’s a safe bet that Lott knew he was dealing with someone who was already squarely in his camp – not, as you had previously suggested, someone who hadn’t made up his mind yet.

    Well, both you and Xrlq agree that Lott and Hiltzik have committed sock puppetry.

    Yes, though we disgree vehemently as to how often. The Mary Rosh incident is not in doubt, but there are questions as to its breadth; Lott maintains the account was originally created for his four kids, whom it was named after, while Lambert assumes that just about everything done under the name “Mary Rosh” was from John Lott. And I see no reason whatsoever to believe Lambert’s other various and sundry allegations of sock puppetry (e.g., Washingtonian, Economist123, etc.), all of which appear to be pure fantasy.

    And both of you agree their sock puppetry was unethical.

    Right?

    Right. I don’t believe Lott did one-tenth of the crap Lambert has accused him of, but I do agree that if he did it, a fair chunk of it was unethical. Some of it was just silly.

    Meanwhile, Lambert is the gift that keeps on giving:

    Xrlq is a starry-eyed fan of John Lott’s from way back and is mad at Julian Sanchez because he exposed Lott’s sock puppetry.

    True to form, Lambert makes a wild claim based on … absolutely nothing. Search my archives for references to Julian Sanchez, and you’ll find that I bashed the guy on a few occasions, but only for saying things that were genuinely stupid, not for exposing anybody, and certainly not on any topic remotely related to John Lott, Mary Rosh, gun control or the like. As is his wont, Lambert simply made this crap up.

    Xrlq has falsely accused both Julian and me of using sock puppets.

    Yes, you really read that right – Tim Lambert, of all people, had the audacity to accuse ME of falsely accusing someone else of using sock puppets. If that’s not a dictionary entry for chutzpah, I don’t know what is.

    On to what really happened, Julian Sanchez wrote a moron-piece at Hit & Run (but I repeat myself), implying that only “cryptoracists” object to illegal aliens being called by politically correct euphemisms rather than being accurately identified as illegal. I bashed him over it, as I typically do to people who write such drivel. [I sure as hell did not bash him over his role in the Mary Rosh incident, which at the time I was not even aware of.] A couple hours later, some luser from Reason showed up to defend him. In theory, it could have been anyone with posting privileges at Hit & Run, but in practice, it seemed unlikely that anyone other than Sanchez himself would be that eager to defend his honor. So, in response, I glibly suggested (did not accuse) that maybe these comments were from Sanchez himself. The Real Julian Sanchez surfaced a couple of weeks later, and played/was dumb over why I thought the poster had anything to do with him just because my referral logs showed him finding the site by way of an editing screen only Hit & Run editors can see.

    So was my accusation false? We don’t know. On the one hand, we do know that the culprit was one of a handful of individuals with posting privileges at Hit & Run, and that whoever it is felt a burning desire to rush to the defense of Julian Sanchez. On the other, Sanchez himself denies that it was him. Apparently, that denial is good enough for Lambert. By the same logic, all of Lambert’s allegations against Lott must be false, as well.

    Xrlq (f52b4f)

  56. Tim. We get it.

    You and Xrlq don’t like each other. So at recess, you stay on one side of the playground and he’ll stay on the other.

    But if you keep seeking him out to cause trouble, we’re going to call your parents.

    McGehee (5664e1)

  57. I’ve heard the rumor, but now I see the evidence. Like matter and antimatter, don’t put these two in proximity or this blog explodes in a colorful shower of gamma rays and various subatomic particles.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1a3936)


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