Patterico's Pontifications

10/13/2007

L.A. Times Blog Post About Edwards’s Alleged Affair Vanishes Into Thin Air

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:38 pm

[UPDATE: Don't miss the updates to this post -- in particular UPDATE x3. Bottom line: the blogger said, in parenthetical remarks to comments, that it would be censorship not to blog about Edwards's denial. Then the L.A. Times removed the post. Then I posted this post, and e-mailed the blogger to ask why his post had disappeared. Within minutes, they put a shorter version of the same post back up. Then they removed the blogger's parenthetical observations that it would be censorship not to blog about this! In other words, they censored the blogger, and then censored the blogger's view that it was censorship! What in the world is going on?? I have retold this story here, with a clearer timeline.]

The other night I noted that, shortly after John Edwards denied rumors of an extramarital affair, the issue had been discussed in a blog on the L.A. Times web site.

Well, guess what? It’s gone now — with no explanation for (or acknowledgement of) the deletion.

The post in question was available at this link. Following that link now brings up an error message reading: “The requested URL /washington/2007/10/breaking-news-j.html was not found on this server.” Perusing through the blog itself, one sees that the October 11 post is entirely missing.

This is bad form. When a blogger takes down an entire post, there should generally be an explanation as to why it happened. Bloggers should not simply take posts down and pretend that they were never published.

But I have a feeling that it wasn’t the blogger’s decision to take down the post.

Here is why I say that. One of the commenters lectured blogger Andrew Malcolm for putting up the post. He responded within the comment, using language that seems mighty ironic now that the post is gone. Here is the comment, with blogger Malcolm’s response circled:

I remember seeing several more comments along the same lines, and virtually every one had a similar response from Mr. Malcolm.

I have sent an e-mail to Mr. Malcolm asking why the post was taken down. In light of his comment to Ellen, I have a feeling it wasn’t Mr. Malcolm’s decision to censor his post.

Let’s see if he’s willing to talk to me about it.

Here is a screenshot of the post for posterity:

UPDATE: Well, that’s plenty odd. Eleven minutes after I published this post, and nine minutes after I e-mailed Mr. Malcolm, commenter Itsme reported that the L.A. Times post had reappeared — albeit in much shorter form — with this explanatory note:

(This item was originally posted Thursday evening, Oct. 11. It was removed by an editor Friday but was reposted Saturday in a shortened form.)

Interesting. I’d love to know the story behind this.

UPDATE x2: Since Mickey Kaus has been following the Edwards story, I notified him about this. Here is his blogged reaction:

Why it will be hard to blog for the L.A. Times: You post something juicy on Thursday and then a middle-management twit will come in and censor it on Friday.Suggested solution for Mr. Zell: Attrit the twit!

Heh. Thanks to Mickey for the link.

UPDATE x3: Itsme now points out that the parenthetical responses in the comments, justifying the need for the post, are now all gone. Such as, for example, the one preserved for posterity in the first screenshot above, in which Mr. Malcolm says it would be “censoring” content not to be talking about Edwards’s denial.

Fascinating. I’m starting to think I won’t hear from Mr. Malcolm in response to my e-mail . . . There’s just too much here to explain.

44 Responses to “L.A. Times Blog Post About Edwards’s Alleged Affair Vanishes Into Thin Air”

  1. Yeah, Patterico, I actually commented on the LAT blog (my comment was pretty much sympathetic to Edwards and stated he should sue if there’s no proof of this and add the winnings to his election campaigns or a wing of his house, his choice). My comment also disappeared with the blog post without a bit of explanation.

    Deleting it is one thing. Deleting it, for a media outlet, without mentioning it is unethical and plainly bad manners. It certainly wasted my time.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. Huh?

    When I clicked on your link, I got the actual post, or I guess a shortened post, with this note:

    (This item was originally posted Thursday evening, Oct. 11. It was removed by an editor Friday but was reposted Saturday in a shortened form.)

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  3. Well, that’s new since I put up the blog post and e-mailed Mr. Malcolm.

    Maybe they decided they couldn’t get away with just hiding it?

    I’ll update the post.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  4. It was definitely gone for hours. In any case, now you can post a proper trackback to that LAT post and let your views be known.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  5. Oh, as an aside, I bet someone pulled it, Malcolm got pissed off, and they reposted it.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  6. Comparing the new, shorter post with the one you show here, it looks like they cut out a fair amount of the second-hand gossip lifted from the tabloid version.

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  7. Considering your comment 6, Itsme, I’m still willing to place money on someone pulled it, Malcolm complained, it was rewritten, and reposted. In which case, this is a correction and their should have been an update to that effect, as Patterico and other serious bloggers make routinely.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  8. Itsme reported that the post was back up 11 minutes after I posted this post, and 9 minutes after I e-mailed Malcolm.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  9. Well, there is an explanatory note.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  10. Itsme:

    Correct. Here is what the new version omits:

    According to the Enquirer’s unnamed female source, the campaign worker developed a crush on Edwards, which blossomed into romance. “They got together whenever they could, mostly at hotels where Edwards and his campaign staff stayed,” the anonymous friend is quoted as saying.

    She also is quoted: “As the affair went on, she said that both she and John began to feel real guilty and they decided to end it.”

    The Enquirer said that the woman herself would not respond to their queries or visits to her house.

    So it’s OK to report that he denied it, but it’s not OK to report the details of what he is denying.

    But it’s not censorship. Just so that’s clear.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  11. Possibly they were concerned at posting so much detail from a potentially libelous tabloid story?

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  12. You’re right; there is an explanatory note. However, it’s short on reason, long on brevity.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  13. P, just saw your post #10.

    Well, I think a responsible news source can get the essence of the story down without repeating a completely unfounded claim word for word. I think that’s what they should have done in the first place, and the hopping around just makes them look unprofessional in my opinion.

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  14. Hey, speaking of disappearing posts, I just commented on DRJ’s latest on the Australian election… where’d it go?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  15. I’m not alleging censorship, you understand. Just using publish for a preview rather than WordPress’s save and preview functionality!

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  16. You’d have to ask DRJ. It appears to be in draft form; I assume she put it there. I never saw it.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  17. Well I didn’t put it there.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  18. Christoph,

    Sorry. Sometimes, by chance, Patterico and I post contemporaneously. I don’t like double-posts so I took mine down for for now. Keep your comment in mind because I’ll put it back up later.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  19. Or maybe I was imitating the LA Times’ vanishing blog post.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  20. So you posted it on purpose long enough for it to be read and commented on… then decided to take it down… but didn’t provide an explanation why?

    Hmmm…. you’re killing Patterico’s position here. He almost has to chastise you for it. I was at first joking (“Well I didn’t put it there.”), and now am not. I think this from one of Patterico’s guest bloggers at this exact second screams for an update.

    Not trying to be a jerk, but I really do.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  21. DRJ, double posts are fine with me. Feel free to put it back up whenever.

    Christoph, calm down.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  22. It was up for seconds, Christoph. Just long enough for me to check the site and see that Patterico had put one up at the same time.

    I’m putting it back up now. Knock yourself out. Please.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  23. I’m not mad. It’s the principle of the thing. You said:

    “It’s gone now — with no explanation for (or acknowledgement of) the deletion.”

    And that’s exactly what happened here, for a trivial reason.

    The point is one of your guest bloggers didn’t understand your thoughts (although you’ve posted on it before) on that issue and did exactly what you criticized for a different reason.

    The timing was ironic, but also fortuitous. This is a great opportunity for you to use this as an example of what you consider to be correct blogging etiquette as evidenced by this post:

    “This is bad form. When a blogger takes down an entire post, there should generally be an explanation as to why it happened.”

    Yes, her reasons were innocent, mere aesthetics. But readers don’t necessarily know this. Because of lack of acknowledgment they, by definition, can’t.

    “Bloggers should not simply take posts down and pretend that they were never published.”

    Unless DRJ was planning on updating her post with, “I’d posted this earlier, but pulled it down for a while because it was published in too close proximity to Patterico’s last post, and I felt like spacing it out more,” she would have violated this etiquette too. I don’t think DRJ was planning this update because I don’t remember reading one from her like it in the past, but apparently she has pulled posts and reposted them later, again, for purely aesthetic reasons.

    So rather than an inline commenting discussion, I feel a high standard of blogging ethics — giving the juxtaposition of this event with your criticizing LAT blog for the same things (with presumably different motives) requires a post-level update at a minimum.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  24. Christoph,

    You do realize that my comment #19 was a joke, don’t you?

    DRJ (74c23b)

  25. You make a good point in your comment #23. I’ll add the update.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  26. Yes, I do, DRJ.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  27. I think I wrote my terms of use with Christoph in mind.

    nk (6e4f93)

  28. Itsme reported that the post was back up 11 minutes after I posted this post, and 9 minutes after I e-mailed Malcolm.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/13/2007 @ 10:56 pm

    Interesting timing.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  29. nk, your retort is strong.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  30. I’ve read them, nk, they were cute. Note I supported Patterico in his core point in this post and was interested because LAT temporarily deleted my comment too. I still support Patterico’s core point.

    You must admit, however, that it’s humorous to have another blogger on Patterico.com post and — seeing this post about, all things, not deleting blog posts without explanation — pull her post without explanation.

    I’m thinking DRJ didn’t read this one too carefully before doing that.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  31. Wow, and now it looks like the little paranthetical responses have been taken out of the comments.

    Wha…?

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  32. That’s not cool, Itsme, good catch. Because they DID censor themselves, fully for a period of time, and then partially, by editing.

    That’s fine; they’re allowed to edit. But to have the blog post author make a big point about they have to report this story to avoid censorship, then have the story pulled, then posted in cut-down form plus removing the blog post author’s comments about censorship… reeks.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  33. Very strange.

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  34. Post is updated. Thanks, Itsme.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  35. Itsme on the spot. Itsme can’t sleep. Oh dear.

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  36. PS to P. I just posted something at the old thread about the gay marriage bill…I see it’s officially vetoed.

    For what it’s worth.

    Itsme (f1b2da)

  37. I’m going to post another comment on the LAT blog drawing this to their attention and we’ll see if it gets published or not. In any event, I am going to cross post it here so there’s a record it was made. Should be ready in 10 min. or so.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  38. I just posted this on the LAT blog:

    Publishing this comment will be a test of your honesty. I expect you to pass. We’ll see.

    As one of your commentators who posted here in good faith in support of John Edwards re: this charge, I’m troubled this blog post was pulled down for an extended period of time without explanation. Then it was reposted in truncated form. That’s fine. You’re allowed to edit, although an explanation of the reasons for your edits — which smack me of a correction — would have been proper.

    Before this post was pulled down (by yourself? by LAT management? I’m guessing the latter and I believe you have a blogging and journalistic obligation to explain) you had made parenthetical comments to several commentators comments justifying the need for this post and pointing out your aversion to censorship. For example:

    (Ans: We intended to ignore it for now, but when the candidate himself addresses the issue and no longer ignores it, how could we? Then we’re censoring.–AM)

    Screenshot here:
    http://patterico.com/wp/wp-content/images/censoring.JPG

    Patterico has posted on this here:
    http://patterico.com/2007/10/13/la-times-blog-post-about-edwardss-alleged-affair-vanishes-into-thin-air

    I took Patterico to task in comment 23 on that thread as I often do on a variety of issues. I do this a lot. I’m not his shill.

    But Patterico makes a very good point that your removing this post for so long and then editing — or having others editing out — your parenthetical comments to commentators is highly irregular, a breach of basic blogging etiquette, and unbecoming to a serious news organization.

    Will you provide an explanation of how all this happened?

    This comment will be cross posted under the above referenced Patterico.com commentator thread so that readers — his if not yours — can get a fair understanding of either your willingness to blog fairly and discuss this, or not.

    Thanks.

    It’s a moderated blog and my last comment was published. Let’s see if this one shows up.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  39. I followed up with this comment on the LAT blog:

    To be clear, and in follow-up to my recent comment, your update made clear that an editor removed this post and then it was reposted the following day.

    My question is why did the parenthetical comments you made in response to commentators’ comments where you expressed an aversion to censorship get edited out?

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  40. Great job. Just one question. How do you get screenshots of the pages before they were altered?

    Looking Glass (ce3111)

  41. This is rich – one can picture the editors at Spring Street wringing their hands, pacing back and forth while simpering about that irritant, Patterico, is shredding us publicly, yet again!

    Dana (c2dc3c)

  42. John & Ken are trashing the LAT for somehow-not-noticing that their stories about the Palmdale beating are completely wrong.

    http://www.kfi640.com/cc-common/podcast/single_podcast.html?podcast=JohnandKen.xml

    3PM and 5PM on the 12th, mysteriously labelled the 11th at this monent.

    It really is a strange paper.

    Ron Hardin (a165db)

  43. Oh, Gee. A politician’s been diddling with an aide/intern/whatever.
    Next thing you know, they’ll actually be taking money from voters who have business before the governement.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  44. Great job. Just one question. How do you get screenshots of the pages before they were altered?

    Easy. Leave the post up on your screen for a day or two, randomly. When a devious blogger or editor changes things, take a screenshot.

    Patterico (bad89b)


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