Patterico's Pontifications

4/21/2006

More on Why The Times Should Not Discipline Hiltzik

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:55 am



I’ve been struggling to figure out just why it is that I think Michael Hiltzik should not be disciplined for creating mutually admiring sock-puppet identities. I think I’ve finally figured it out. It has to do with the type of dishonesty that most bothers me — that is the most dangerous — and its prevalence at the L.A. Times.

When someone creates sock puppets, like Hiltzik did, is it dishonest? Yes, I suppose it is. But is it dangerous? I don’t think so. Goofy? Sure. Easily mocked? You betcha! But dangerous? Nah.

What bothers me more — and what I find far more dangerous — is the kind of dishonesty that Hiltzik employed in his response to me yesterday: blatant intellectual dishonesty. He fundamentally mischaracterized my argument. He was smart enough to know he was doing it.

And he thought he’d get away with it.

Because his colleagues get away with that sort of dishonesty all the time.

This is the kind of dishonesty that I find far more disturbing than sock puppets. It’s intellectual dishonesty — pretending that they don’t see the point, when they damn well do.

It’s the sort of thing that happens when the paper says that President Bush claimed that Iraq was an “imminent threat” in a State of the Union speech, when he didn’t — and then refuses to correct the mistake. Or when they run a fundamentally flawed story about the costs of the death penalty, and then pretend not to understand the flaws (or just ignore you) when you point them out.

I documented dozens of such examples in my year in review 2005 post, and in previous annual reviews of the paper. This sort of dishonesty — blatant intellectual dishonesty — goes on there all the time. And Michael Hiltzik is far from the only person there engaging in it.

If they do something to him, they’re not getting him for his real sins — and they’re pretending they’re not guilty of the same sins.

That pretense would be simply more dishonesty.

63 Responses to “More on Why The Times Should Not Discipline Hiltzik”

  1. Yeah, exactly. The sock-puppet thing is really just standard Internet douchebaggery. If that’s the biggest journalistic sin the LAT can find in their own house, they’re not looking very hard.

    The commenter in the previous thread is right, though. If the shoe were on the other foot and you’d been busted for using sock puppets, you know Hiltzik would be rolling around in it like a pig in sh*t.

    ” ‘SOCK’ IT TO HIM: FREY’S ETHICAL LAPSE RENDERS HIM UNFIT FOR EMPLOYMENT ANYWHERE”

    Allahpundit (4ba106)

  2. Excellent point, Patterico.

    Hiltzik is just one small boil on a plague-ridden body. Firing him would be nothing more than a cosmetic measure, when what is really needed goes much deeper than that.

    Evil Pundit (1772ee)

  3. I agree it would set a bad precedent if they disciplined or fired Hiltzik for the wrong reason, e.g., merely for commenting anonymously, as opposed to doing so in a misleading fashion. But it would set a perfectly fine precedent to can him for doing to an L.A. Times blog what Jayson Blair did to the print edition of the N.Y. Times print edition. No, it wouldn’t end the systemic problems of the paper that you routinely document. Canning Blair didn’t end the N.Y. Times’s problems, either, but it was still the right thing to do.

    Xrlq (f2a50e)

  4. Let me take a counter position: I think, from a blogging/new media perspective, that the actions of Hiltzik could, in the eyes of the public at large, damage the credibility of bloggers in much the same way that Blair, Mapes, et. al. have damaged the trust people have for MSM types.

    This sort of thing isn’t damaging to the LA Times precisely becase people don’t trust papers to print the unvarnished truth any more than they expect the DNC to run fair coverage of the GOP on its own website. It is potentially damaging to bloggers such as yourself, in that it re-emphasizes just how little insight into online personalities is available to the average information consumer. People intrinsically realize that there’s a 95% chance that the female Night Elf you’ve partnered with in World of Warcraft isn’t actually, you know, a female, that “horny” 14 year old is actually an FBI agent running a sting and that Nigerian prince is not actually royalty. I don’t think they actually think to distrust the average high-profile blogger, figuring that hundreds of thousands of other info consumers have already checked him/her out.

    Doug Stewart (0914f7)

  5. This is really kind of childish and sad, Hiltzik is like the kid in high school that makes up a girlfriend to look good to his friends. ‘oh you don’t know her, she goes to a different school!’. I don’t think what he did was worth punishment beyond the embarrassment he should feel, but judging from his reply, I’m not sure he feels he did anything wrong.

    sherlock (f49111)

  6. This is the meat on the bone, the third act: the LA Times and its general presentation. I pretty much never want anyone to lose their job. I do agree with Allahpundit that the paper would have a field day if they could drop you on the coals.

    So moving through all the events since yesterday… the links, coverage and analysis at neighboring blogs… it gets down to the basic flaw with the LA Times. A flaw that is a sort of dishonesty presented as truth. The skew used to cover race stories, the Bush White House… this discovery should be expanded into something.

    This story (you) should be on Hannity & Colmes. I would expect you might go on Hugh Hewitt’s show. Or Dennis Prager’s show to cover the moral aspects.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  7. For those of Patterico’s readers who may not have read the earlier posts on Hiltzik’s “The Incredible Shrinking Hugh Hewitt” just click to his post http://goldenstateblog.latimes.com/goldenstate/2006/04/the_incredible_.html and read at least the very last sentence. Then decide whether you feel sorry for him.

    nk (d7a872)

  8. Great work, love the site, and feel a tinge of satisfaction, that an arrogant, boorish lout has been hoisted on his own petard, so to speak.

    I think your rush to defend him now is a little bit ironic, having made the case against him. His fate is in the jury’s hands, and after putting the case on, you, the prosecutor are arguing for jury nullification (if that is an apt metaphor).

    He did the misdeed, and whether or how the LATimes chooses to discipline him is in their hands.

    While I doubt that there will be any punishment, the actions that he took were fruadulent, and many MSM columnists have been fired or severely punished for comparable acts in print. But they only invented sources to further their stories, not to create an echo chamber to validate their own work.

    Earlier posters suggestion that this is akin to sending an anonymous and self-laudatory letter to the editor seems an apt comparison, to me anyway.

    Anyway, there are bigger fish to fry.

    Thanks again,

    T

    Tddd (4939bc)

  9. I think the entire staff at the LATimes should be fired. I think firing Hiltzik would be a start. As each editor and reporter are caught being dishonest, then the LATimes management can be shamed into firing them, too. After all they fired Hiltzik…

    It is about time someone picked up on the pervasive Intellectual Dishonesty at the LATimes. I’ve been talking about it since I lived in SoCal over 10 years ago. BUT, the LATimes is only one outpost of this dishonesty. It resides throughout the MSM and infests DU, Kos, and even actus and psyberian are examples.

    PCD (89cd95)

  10. Sherlock, of course Hiltzig did nothing wrong. We stand by our man 200%.

    nofanofcablecos and mikekoshi (3b5db7)

  11. Perhaps the reason for Hiltzik’s poor arguments is that he is splitting his intelligence among three personas.

    It’s Friday lol time. Don’t take me seriously for the rest of the day.

    Gabriel Sutherland (90b3a1)

  12. A simple commitment to accuracy would go a long way. Brady Westwater at LA Cowboy has documented scores of errors over the last year.

    In yesterday’s Times, Jonah Goldberg falsely stated that “60 climatologists from around the world” wrote Canada’s prime minister that computer models of climate change cannot be trusted. Here is the letter. Many of the people on the list are not climatologists, some are not even scientists.

    As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

    Bradley (e619fc)

  13. Methinks you miss the point.

    The “standard of care” when a columnist is caught being dishonest is to take a look at his other work, in this case his columns, to see if the dishonesty has infected his other work.

    Get to work, LATimes

    Steve Broce (5006cd)

  14. Seipp on Hiltzik.

    You know who I’ll bet will enjoy this column? “Cathysushi”.

    Allahpundit (4ba106)

  15. No matter what you think of the MSM, journalists generally try to be honest and Hiltzik’s fundamental dishonesty — revealed in his Interent sock puppetry, and then in his response to you — is very possibly a firing offense. Not as punishment or disciipline, but simply because his behavior suggests that he may be basically untrustworthy. As I’ve said before (about Michael Fumento) all any journalist really has is his judgment and integrity. If those are compromised, then the paper he works for is compromised too.

    And congratulations, by the way, to Eamon Javers at Business Week, who I just heard won an award for his Fumento stories.

    Cathy Seipp (606af0)

  16. I am not accusing Goldberg of dishonesty. I pointed out a rather easily caught factual inaccuracy, of the kind the LA Times is infamous for having. If the Times cracks down on inaccuracy, that would go a long way toward solving its problems across the board. An environment in which accuracy is prized above all, and in which errors are corrected promptly, will not be one where dishonesty will feel welcome.

    Bradley (e619fc)

  17. Blogger Bill Hobbs expresses his anger toward Islam-inspired terrorists in a cartoon on his personal blog: he later expresses apologies and regrets, but gets fired from his job at Belmont University.

    Journalist Mike Hiltzik creates fake persons to allow him to post fake posts on his LA Times blog to support the positions he takes, and to critize those who disagree: he gets caught, he obfuscates, does not admit fault, and does not aplogize, and his blog is “suspended”.

    Obvious lesson here: It’s okay to lie, but don’t offer a controversial opinion that might offend. Well, offend someone on the liberal protection list, that is.

    ps. No, Christians and conservatives aren’t on it – they’re fair game.

    Daver (c70795)

  18. The LA Times presents far more news, far more fairly, and with far more use to the public than anything this blog ever has published. I never see anything on your blog about, say, what happened at my last city council meeting, or school board meeting. You never report in any useful fashion on local crime, or state legislation. You say nothing useful or intelligent about economic policy. You add nothing to the debate about social policy. You could be serving a public purpose, but instead you focus on narrowing my choices of information by trying to persuade me that people like you should be trusted to inform me. Please. (And this, by the way, goes double for Hugh Hewitt et al). If it were up to you, I’d know nothing but your idiotic propaganda. You’re all worse than Pravda. Hiltzik, Schmiltzik. All this incident shows is that blogging tempts people to overstatement and dishonest behavior. At least The Times chooses to do something about it. Not like you.

    masha (fbf439)

  19. They shouldn’t discipline Hiltzik?

    Frey, are you thinking about YOURSELF or the LA Times, its readership, and ethics, honesty, and decency in journalism?

    I think you’re concerned you’ll have a firing hanging over your head. Fine. You’re a prosecutor; you’re probably used to people getting less for far more.

    He’s certainly innocent of grave moral sin… but he’s guilty of horrible professionalism and dishonesty and THESE are the currency of a journalist.

    You’re entitled to your opinion. But saying they shouldn’t “discipline” Mr. Hiltzik after yet another ethical foible is way off base.

    The LA Times has a wide latitude of potential disciplines… however, NO discipline would be a black mark against the Times, would be further damaging to its credibility (you may be willing to live and let live and trust again now that you’ve scored a few points against a rival, however, the rest of the blogging/reading community would like to see higher standards and responsibility… such as, fortunately, the LAT is providing).

    I couldn’t disagree with you more, Mr. Frey, and I say this as someone who respects you.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  20. AFTERTHOUGHT: And dude, he should “get away with it” because his colleagues “get away with it all the time”?

    You think this is the public stance the LA Times should defend?

    Well, I know of several instances (and there are many times more that I don’t know about) where people commit crimes large and small and get away with it, often because they aren’t caught.

    ADA, should we then let them get away with it when they are?

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  21. As usual, I think Cathy hits it on the head. Perhaps I fall on the “no mercy” side as a result of my background, but in the submarine business there is a phase called “demonstrated unreliability,” and it is always grounds that can, and often should, be used to send a guy to the skimmer (i.e. surface) fleet. It is not necessary that the demonstration be specifically job related (we’ve all seen folks de-nuked over blindingly stupid liberty incidents), but in Hiltzik’s case I can’t see how proven public deception with regard to editorial writing isn’t job related, especially as this was happening under the banner of the L.A. Times.

    From a standard of professionalism I see little material difference, other than perhaps scale, between his and Jason Blair’s sins. Both men created a false story (in this case “there are these independent voices that agree completely with me”) and presented this false story to the public in support of their own personal gain using the prestige and image of their employer as cover. I just doubt if Hiltzik will get as sweet of a book deal from it.

    submandave (9ae3af)

  22. By the way, is Masha Hiltzik’s wife? She seems to have the same view as Hiltzik, that all republicans are “Evil Stalinists”. Also, the dead tree edition did not mention ONE WORD of Hiltzik’s suspension. Does Masha know?

    JSF

    JSF (f83b28)

  23. Hiltzik’s ideas are smart and well put and useful to the public, whether or not you agree with him. His work in the column is vetted by editors. He shouldn’t have dummied up phony reader comments on his own work, but most bloggers do it and he fell prey to that trap. So the LAT’s decision is easy: Take away the blog (which nobody but Hugh Hewitt and Patterico read anyway), keep the column (which is read by lots of people), run only letters that have been verified as being from readers (which I think they do anyway). Yes, it’s true that all a journalist has is his reputation, and now Hiltzik’s is now tarnished. A little. But only because he tried to play by two sets of rules — yours and the LAT’s. There are mortal sins and venial sins. Say what you will about the guy, he doesn’t concoct the information in his columns. Which is more than I can say for most bloggers.

    masha (0ce265)

  24. As blogger Laura points out, the LA Times ethics code says this:

    “Fabrication of any type is unacceptable. We do not create composite characters. We do not use pseudonyms.”

    Could the LA Times have been more clear when they hired Mr. Hiltzik… and brought him back to LA after he was relieved of his Moscow responsibilities after stealing his fellow employee’s passwords and reading their email?

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  25. masha, I wasn’t aware that Patterico was marketing his blog as a public service for the Los Angeles community, so why do you seem to expect it to be? Methinks you may have taken strawman lessons from Master Hiltzik.

    If you do appreciate the value the L.A. Times provides vis-a-vis local community coverage, then the exposure of a “journalist” on their national beat shouldn’t be an issue for you. Removing personalities, biases, etc, from the issue it boils down to the fact that a well-known and respected(?) journalist and opinion writer for a major news organization was revealed as lying to the public by creating imaginary friends to support and bolster his position and provide a means for multiple, unattributable attacks on his detractors. As a mental exercise, please imagine if Patterico or Hugh Hewitt has multiple personas they brought out every time they needed support in an argument.

    As to your closing statement (“All this incident shows is that blogging tempts people to overstatement and dishonest behavior.”) one might just as well say that unlocked doors tempt people to rob and steal. Blogs do not cause otherwise honest and considerate people to suddenly loose all morals and turn into raving lunatics. They do, however, provide a great opportunity for those who are already inclined to deception and bluster to indulge their proclivity. Fortunately, given enough rope most people of this bent will hang themselves.

    Or to put it another way, “Blogs don’t deceive people, people deceive people.”

    submandave (9ae3af)

  26. This “sock-puppet” stuff IS dangerous to dabble in for any member of the MSM, especially one with a pulitzer. It has to do with mob mentallity. Haven’t “studies” been conducted concluding that a normally mild mannered citizen can become a brick throwing maniac when uncontrollably caught up in the mindset of the masses around him? If this isn’t treated as an ethics violation what would stop some other influential writer from creating a “sock-puppet” army with thousands of voices controlled by one opinion and a goal of influencing public opinion on a massive scale? It must be true everyone else agrees with it! Farfetched maybe but you never know.

    Eric Morris (cc6872)

  27. masha (#23) wrote:

    > [Hiltzik] shouldn’t have dummied up phony reader comments on his own work, but most bloggers do it and he fell prey to that trap.

    If, speaking very, very hypothetically, most bloggers didn’t create phony reader comments, would that diminish the force of masha’s argument in any way?

    Silly thought, I know. Just wondering.

    AMac (b6037f)

  28. Mr. Frey, I’ve reread your post and given more thought to it.

    I get the distinction you’re making between his dishonesty in this case, violating the LA Times ethics code, and his other dishonesties: to wit blatant intellectual dishonesty, deleting well-sourced comments which refute his positions, (but, however, are not in any way a violation of the LA Times Golden State Blog comment policy), and stealing passwords and reading other reporters’ email.

    I am at a loss, however, to understand how you conclude, as a seasoned prosecutor, that a person committing several acts, all of which have a single unifying underlying theme — dishonesty — and which are often against well-established rules that he agreed to, should remain undisciplined?

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  29. He shouldn’t have dummied up phony reader comments on his own work, but most bloggers do it and he fell prey to that trap.” (empasis added)

    Pretty big assumption upon which to base you entire thesis. I will, however, reserve final judgement on your argument until you’ve had the chance to present other cases and specific bloggers to support this position. Personally speaking, I have never used any name except “submandave” on any blog. The only times I have seen someone use multiple names it was either an obvious joke or ham-handedly done by some Troll.

    Say what you will about the guy, he doesn’t concoct the information in his columns. Which is more than I can say for most bloggers.

    As for your first contention, that precisely seems to be at issue in some cases. Or, more properly, selectively using only the information supporting a specific pre-determined conclusion and ignoring or obfuscating others. Concerning your closing, I can only conclude that your assesment of “most bloggers” is based upon the company you keep and so encourage you to branch out and make other more honest and reliable friends. And don’t fall into the trap of concluding that simply because you may disagree with another’s conclusions it is only due to their “concoct[ing] information.” I again invite you to document your examples.

    submandave (9ae3af)

  30. An interesting note about Hiltzig’s snooping into other people’s mail. I have a friend who works at the New York Times and was friendly with Jayson Blair. He used to worry that Blair was going to get fired because he used to do weird things, and one of them was that he would go into other people’s e-mail when they weren’t at their desk. Odd coincidence.

    WD (c03022)

  31. Yes, the L.A. Slimes has demonstrated shocking lapses in journalistick integrity over the years. However, if they have the gumption to enforce ethics in at least one area – a reporter using multiple, false identities – then they should not be discouraged from doing so. As I wrote before, I’ve been reading the rag for 30 years. I don’t pretend for a second that his canning is going to solve anything, but the paper can at least be upright in following this one rule. M.H. should be fired.

    Tom (20d7ea)

  32. Your hard work and sleuthing skills should attract a hoard of new readers! The story as covered by Kurtz is now posted at Drudge. Congratulations~

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  33. Masha:

    You never report in any useful fashion on local crime, or state legislation. You say nothing useful or intelligent about economic policy. You add nothing to the debate about social policy.

    Translation:

    I’m an idiot who has never read this blog before, yet who nevertheless fancies myself as qualified to comment on it.

    The only question is whether this Masha moron is just another Hiltzik sock puppet, or more likely, a human sock puppet.

    Xrlq (f2a50e)

  34. I posted this comment below to one of your older posts. This isn’t Hiltzik’s only brush with deception at the Times. How often does one writer have to engage in these types of unethical practices before he deserves firing? Best wishes, Laura

    ************************************************

    According to Cathy Seipp, this isn’t Hiltzik’s first brush with ethical breaches. Please see my blog post for more:

    http://laurasmiscmusings.blogspot.com/2006/04/michael-hiltzik-two-strikes-and-youre.html

    How many times does a writer have to engage in deceptive practices before the Times will fire him?

    Sincerely,
    Laura

    Laura (71415b)

  35. >>>He shouldn’t have dummied up phony reader comments on his own work, but most bloggers do it and he fell prey to that trap.

    “Most” bloggers do that? Your evidence, please. None will be forthcoming, however, because you have none. It’s merely an attempt to make Hiltzik seem like less than the ass he is.

    Carlos (98df3a)

  36. Laura, look how long the LATimes kept Robert Scheer on the staff for the answer to your question about Hiltzik.

    PCD (89cd95)

  37. Patterico nails it. Well said.

    PrestoPundit (9c6332)

  38. […] Patterico on what’s really wrong with the LA Times. […]

    PrestoPundit » Blog Archive » Beyond Sockpuppets (d881ce)

  39. What Hiltzk demonstrated was cowardice. This is akin slandering someone by using the rhetorical cover of “I’ve heard it said” to avoid responsibility for false claims. Lacking the character to honestly defend his arguments and face criticism, Hiltzik engages in spineless, adolescent behavior to soothe his hurt feelings. My expectations are that a business writer for a major newspaper would be much more rational and thick skinned than this.

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  40. The other problem with your argument, Mr. Frey, is that Mr. Hiltzik’s “danger” or lack thereof has nothing to do with why he should be fired or otherwise disciplined.

    No one is saying he’s underpinning Democracy or really has that much influence at all.

    The cashier at the Dairy Queen my not be particularly “dangerous” by deceivng the public or fellow employees and violating the business’s rules, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Can’t you see that the Times should discipline him because of the damage done to them and the stain this places on other reporters’ who are probably not involved in the same actions?

    It raises doubt about the LA Times’ credibility. And that’s a more important business asset than the local DQ’s credibility, but I assure you having worked at the former if not the latter, it is very valuable to both. That’s why they immediately suspended his blog and began investigating and that’s why they should discipline Mr. Hiltzik.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  41. Hiltzik should resign. If he refuses, the LAT’s editors will either have to fire him, or they’ll carry his weight for a long, long time. Given the LAT’s declining reputation for forthrightness, within the context of sharply declining subscriptions and ad revenues, the smart business decision is unambiguous.

    Will the LAT’s editors protect the integrity of the product, or will they turn a blind eye to Hiltzik’s transgressions and absorb the consequences?

    For now, the ball’s in Hiltzik’s court, soon it will be in LAT’s court. Abscent a satisfactory resoultion, the ball will soon be in our court. So, who’s going to step up and do the right thing?

    Stay tuned, tape at the 11th hour.

    Black Jack (606af0)

  42. Wow.
    All this teeth gnashing over a piece of crap daily like LAT. Who cares? We should have abandoned this ‘grey lady’ years ago, along with her moonbat sister the NYT.
    Discipline or not, someone needs to cut this whole rat-infested barge loose and let it sink in it’s own stink.
    Pull your ADs if you still place them, stop your subscription,and tell them why.

    paul (001f65)

  43. You haven’t given a reason why, except that they’re “rat-infested”.

    You’ve also said that we shouldn’t care about this incident. And that we should “tell them why”.

    If we don’t care about incidents like these, what should adtitersers tell them — that they’re overrun with rats?

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  44. Riddle me this, Patterico:

    If Ben Domenech was fired for dishonesty that occurred when he was a college kid, why should Hiltzik be fired for dishonesty right now?

    Al (09b2d3)

  45. I pretty much agree with post 40 by Chris.

    I think Patterico’s general view of the Times is overly harsh; it provides a great deal of excellent news, or at least it did up to five years ago when I stopped having access to it. Sure, there are errors of judgment.

    But this isn’t about whether the Times is a liberal dog trainer or one of the world’s great newspapers; this is about what happens if you’re a scumbag.

    What are the requirements for prosecutors? If a prosecutor commits a non-morally-turpitudinous misdemeanor, he’s going to get disciplined. If he commits any crime of moral turpitude (like theft) or any felony he should be fired. The reason is that it reflects badly on the pursuit of justice.

    If a prosecutor were to cite a long history of increasing crime in California as a justification for more funding, that would be stupid and worthy of social censure, but not be firable. (Crime, of course, has been on a downward trend since roughly the time I was born.)

    *Arguing* disingenuously is not a crime by a columnist. I fairly often disagree with Malkin, and I think some of her arguments are bad arguments based on bad facts and bad logic. But she’s advocating a point; it’s not firable to do that. I might dislike the argument, but we aren’t all going to argue with Eugene Volokh’s standards. I think some of Pat’s arguments are strained, but he makes them in good faith as a proponent of his position.

    *That’s* just disagreement. What Hiltzik did here is perilously close to making up a source; it is far worse. It reduces the moral authority of the organization. It deserves a rather severe sanction. I think it is too late for apologies.

    Which brings us to comment 45: Ben Domenech’s immediate reaction to being caught with a lifetime of plagiarism was to lie about people. *After* he quit under pressure, he told lies. He only apologized after he was stomped to ribbons by those seeking honesty.

    Let’s stop comparing Hiltzik to Domenech; it’s one of the few ways that Hiltzik comes out smelling nice.

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  46. Dishonesty: intellectual, with his coworkers, or to the public is a pattern with this guy. Here’s another example of specious intellectual dishonesty.

    If he’s trying to make points using nonexistent easily refuted logic, distortion, and statistics where the facts clearly point to the exact opposite of his conclusions (and he knows it) in a few months from now after he has shot his credibility (again) with the public, how valuable a reporter will he be?

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  47. I prefer that Hiltzik not get fired. By remaining at the LAT he is an ongoing and valuable symbol of MSM corruption and dishonesty.

    Perfect Sense (024110)

  48. Bradley, at comments #12 and #16, contends that Jonah Goldberg misstated the facts about the open letter signed by 60 climate experts. All of the signers, and the text of the letter, are visible at http://www.friendsofscience.org. I urge all to look at that site. Bradley is absurdly wrong, all of the signers are scholars, most are in atmospheric sciences, earth science, or other closely related fields. Seems to me that Bradley must have been smokin’ some wacky terbacky, no?

    John Cunningham (0c46cf)

  49. The above link is broken, John. If anyone wants to visit: http://www.friendsofscience.org.

    Chris Dollis (5d90a2)

  50. Fire the cheat and stop trying to be so “fair minded”. The man works in a profession where veracity is supposed to be their stock and trade. This man has no veracity. He’s a proven unapologetic liar.

    Carlos's sock puppet (98df3a)

  51. I think Patterico has taken up a good strategic position.

    Regardless of whether or not Hiltzik is fired, his credibility is gone. That means that disciplining him is no longer such a big issue, since anything he says now will be of little consequence.

    Instead of pursuing Hiltzik, Patterico seems to be going after bigger game — putting pressure on the LA Times to clean up its act in general. Thus, instead of wasting his time on small fry who are no longer relevant, he’s aiming at a much bigger target.

    Evil Pundit (1772ee)

  52. John, Goldberg said that the 60 are climatologists. Just look at the affiliations and you see that is not so. Goldberg got it wrong.

    You say that “all of the men are scholars, most are in atmospheric sciences, earth science, or other closely related fields.”

    That is closer to the truth, John. But that’s not what Goldberg wrote.

    All are scholars? Well being a “scholar”, however that is defined, does not make one an expert in global warming. And I concede that most are in related fields, although even then there is no guarantee these are actualy scientists, that is, people who actually do research.

    Other signers indicate professions that are farther removed from climatology, such as biology and economics. One, Paul Reiter, specializes in tropical diseases.

    Absurdly wrong? No, John. Goldberg just got it wrong.

    Bradley J. Fikes (17b5f6)

  53. Masha talks about the value of Hiltzik’s dead tree Golden State column; Masha is either (1) Mrs. Hiltzik or (2) Mike Koshi’s sister or (3) she’s never read the dead tree Golden State Column. I’m not impressed with Hiltzik’s grasp of economics, and I have generally at least glanced at his Golden State Column whenever it appears on the pages of the Times. His column is in the business section but I seem to recall him writing something about his personal problems with a driver’s license etc–in short he doesn’t seem able to focus on point. As noted by another poster, in the submarine world, people talk about “demonstrated unreliability”. In the legal world–and in journalism–people correctly focus on credibility. If a prosecutor such as Patrick Frey is caught lying to a judge just once–his career is over in that judge’s courtroom. Same goes for civil litigators. You deal with people you know and trust–and refuse to deal with anyone who has shown they are not trustworthy. Lie to me once, that’s your fault; lie to me twice, that’s my fault–and I don’t let it happen.

    In reading Hiltzik’s Golden State column in the Times, I didn’t catch him lying–I just thought he was woefully misinformed. On his blog, he engaged in petty sniping of a distasteful, blustery personal sort.

    In short, this fellow is a 22 caliber intellectual and ethical bullet trying to live in a 38 magnum world. To paraphrase Al Campanis (in the statement which resulted in his firing) Hiltzik “lacks the essentials” to stay in a public position where confidence and credibility is required.

    Mike Myers (3a4363)

  54. I have to disagree with our honored host: what Mr Hiltzik did is, and ought to be, a firing offense.

    This isn’t just a case of an employee making a mistake; this is an instance of an employee deliberately violating stated company policy, in a way that brings disrepute on the company itself. Newspapers trade on their credibility, on their (purported) honesty in presenting the facts. Mr Hiltzik’s actions demonstrate that someone who is not just a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, but a high ranking and trusted spokesman for them as well, is not honest.

    If memory serves, the Times either laid off or is in the process of laying off something like 85 newsroom employees, not because they were (necessarily) bad employees, but for simple economic reasons. I’d guess that out of those 85 people, the Times could find at least one with the ethics that journalism purports to have.

    You said that Mr Hiltzik’s actions were dishonest, goofy and easily mocked, but not dangerous. For a profession which bases its entire claim on trustworthiness, Mr Hiltzik’s actions were dangerous.

    Dana (dd8e7e)

  55. The Evil Pundit said:

    Instead of pursuing Hiltzik, Patterico seems to be going after bigger game — putting pressure on the LA Times to clean up its act in general. Thus, instead of wasting his time on small fry who are no longer relevant, he’s aiming at a much bigger target.

    Perhaps that is our host’s motive, but the Times cannot clean up its act in general if they allow a reporter who has destroyed his own credibility remain on the staff.

    In every profession, there are lines one simply does not cross; Mr Hiltzik crossed the line in his profession.

    Dana (dd8e7e)

  56. Instead of pursuing Hiltzik, Patterico seems to be going after bigger game…

    Reminds me of a certain moment from “Star Wars” about keeping your eyes on the prize

    Listen

    kcom (6964bc)

  57. I just think it’s downright adorable how Hiltzik gets that squeaky little voice to come piping out of “masha,” without noticeably moving his lips.

    Kent (005e8f)

  58. Because his colleagues get away with that sort of dishonesty all the time.
    Huh? How can you say that. According to the latest polls, trust in the media is up 24%. Some say that trust in the media is at an all time high. According to anonymous sources, the LA Times is the most trusted media outlet in the country. Admnistration officials agree with Pentagon officials that the LA Times is very trusted.
    While critics say the LA Times is too trusted.

    So there you have, proof that the LA Times is very trusted.

    Veeshir (5f9b87)

  59. Masha wrote “You could be serving a public purpose, but instead….”

    In other words, agreeing with masha is a public service, while disagreeing is a disservice.

    pst314 (20d3ed)

  60. […] Even though bloggers were focused on what they perceived to be a greater sin, few were calling for Hiltzik’s head (1, 2, 3). The punishment had already been meted out, virtually instantaneously: post-Patterico, any knowledgeable person reading Hiltzik would henceforth do so with a few extra grains of salt. […]

    Independent Sources » Blog Archive » Hiltzik Saga, The Denouement: Los Angeles Times Management Gets It A Little Right, A Little Wrong (dd41d6)

  61. […] 6. Michael Hiltzik (2006). After months of sparring with Baquet bete noire Patterico, LA Times blogger/Pulitzer-winner Hiltzik calls up comment-section reinforcements in the form of himself posting under other names. Dick factor: Hiltzik was suspended by the paper in 1993 for hacking into his co-workers’ e-mails accounts. A work emergency? Nope. He was “nosy and curious,” according to a colleague. Degree of difficulty: IPs, screencaps, and timestamps. Difficulty is/was inversely proportional to diligence. Body count: Hiltzik’s blog was shut down, he was suspended without pay, and ultimately banished to the sports section — thus proving that, coupled with his little snooping problem, there’s really no way to get fired from the Times. Blog triumphalism quotient: Surprisingly low. Style points: Hiltzik once compared right-wing criticism of the Times to Stalinist show trials. Overall: He wasn’t a politician, he wasn’t a news executive, he was just a dick prone to pettiness. It’s a close call vis-a-vis Domenech, but sock-puppetry is, or should be, a venial sin. Plagiarism is mortal. 5.0. […]

    Hot Air » Blog Archive » Greenwald’s sock puppets: The worst blog scandal ever? (d4224a)


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