This is rich. Commenter “Masha” says (all emphasis mine):
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.
The bloggers made him do it!
Read that comment again, with its ringing praise of the L.A. Times, and its silly caricature of bloggers as “worse than Pravda,” spewing “idiotic propaganda.” Doesn’t it sound just like something that someone from the L.A. Times would say?
And the punchline is, as you have no doubt already guessed: it is.
The comment was posted from IP address 220.127.116.11, which comes back to The Tribune Company, The Times‘s parent company. More specifically, it is an L.A. Times IP address, one that is “registered to lye1.latimes.com and is shared by multiple users.”
(You did realize I could check that — didn’t you, Masha? Have you paid no attention to this scandal at all?)
What Masha has done here is to defend the L.A. Times without telling us that she works for the L.A. Times. That’s a little weaselly, Masha. But that’s okay: most of the commenters suspected you were a Times person anyway.
Let’s hear more from Masha, because she is just so dang entertaining (the emphasis is once again mine):
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.
I am especially amused by the assertion that “most bloggers” have dummied up phony reader comments on their own work — and that poor Michael Hiltzik simply “fell prey to that trap.” I’m convinced! Why, all the bloggers go around using sock puppets! How could he have possibly avoided it?
Then there is the assertion that “they” verify that letters are from readers. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that a person commenting from the L.A. Times would use the term “they”? Yes, I know: if “Masha” is not an op-ed page editor, then the term “they” is technically correct. But when people talk about the practices of their own organization, they usually say “we” — unless they’re trying to hide the fact that they work for the organization.
I enjoyed reading the various replies to “Masha,” but enjoyed Xrlq’s best of all:
I’m an idiot who has never read this blog before, yet who nevertheless fancies myself as qualified to comment on it.
Why did the commenters suspect you were from The Times, Masha? I suspect it’s because, with the disappearance of Mikekoshi and Nofanofcablecos, nobody seems to be rising to Hiltzik’s defense — except you. I have yet to see a lefty blogger come to his defense. Lefty blog Shakespeare’s Sister, in a post titled “LA Times blogger suspended for being a douchebag,” says this:
Patterico says this shouldn’t be a firing offense, but I disagree; this wasn’t just some random personal blog of some dude in Nowheresville—it was the employer-sponsored blog of a professional journalist, whose credibility is now zero, which doesn’t just affect him, but his employer and their reputation. Frankly, he should have been shitcanned after he was busted snooping into his colleagues’ email back in 1993.
And in comments at Cathy Seipp’s site, Tim McGarry, who has scarcely a nice thing to say about me, says this:
My overall view of Patrick Frey is negative. I see him as an extreme partisan who cares little about journalism. In this instance, however, he deserves only praise. He was right to disclose his discovery and was completely on target in pointing out why Michael’s deception mattered. Whatever else one can say about him, Patrick’s a very intelligent and determined individual.
Show me the people defending Hiltzik.
I think the only people left who think I’m the bad guy in this scenario are working at The Los Angeles Times — folks like Hiltzik and Masha. And you know what? I doubt any of them are going to say so, but I bet you that even at The Times, Hiltzik and Masha are in the minority on that question.
I don’t think everybody at The Times is like Hiltzik, who once compared me to a Stalinist; or Masha, who says bloggers like me are “worse than Pravda” — or “Biff” (remember him?), the Tribune Company guy who, in January, said this:
Patrick Frey? a deputy district attorney? commenting on the LA Times? and people care what you think because….????
Apparently people care now, Biff. And that includes some of your Los Angeles colleagues down at The Times, not all of whom are high-handed folks like you, Hiltzik, and “Masha.”
UPDATE: It turns out that Masha is not a first-time commenter. She called me and the Power Line bloggers “fascists” in December. More details here.