Patterico's Pontifications

4/22/2006

The Point of the Posts About Masha

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:44 pm



I have several posts below (here, here, and here) about an apparent L.A. Times journalist named “Masha” (aka “workingjournalist”) who has left comments calling me a fascist and otherwise spewing radical leftist propaganda.

Why did I write those posts? It’s simple.

If you come on my site and leave comments with crazy leftist propaganda, and call me a fascist, and I can figure out you’re from the L.A. Times (but you’re not disclosing that fact), I’m going to tell people.

Because it’s funny.

We already think of you folks as crazy leftist propagandists who think we’re all fascists. It’s entertaining to have confirmation that at least one of you really is.

Otherwise, as long as it’s not Michael Hiltzik, and the commenter isn’t using mutually praising sock-puppet identities, I don’t care who it really is. And neither should you, or the L.A. Times.

62 Responses to “The Point of the Posts About Masha”

  1. The LA Times should care if their employees use their IT resources, while at work being paid, to do things which ultimately prove to be “funny” and embarrassing to the Times.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  2. Hiltzik gets bounced from the Moscow bureau after snooping around in his co-workers’ e-mail… A dozen years later he’s having another computer-based ethics problem, and is defended by somebody using the same name as one of his Moscow co-workers, from an LA Times computer, even though she lives a continent away… Weird!

    Jim Treacher (f69e1b)

  3. Patrick, you’re enjoying this way too much. 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

    Paul (c169e9)

  4. Holy Moses. I haven’t visited for a few days. I can’t believe these morons think that much of anything they do on the web isn’t traceable.

    I’d love it to be him.

    Martin (d3775f)

  5. I’m having a hard time deciding whether this is a result of arrogance or stupidity. Either way, it’s fun to watch.

    Not John Ekdahl (1fe18c)

  6. If you come on my site and leave comments with crazy leftist propaganda, and call me a fascist, and I can figure out you’re from the L.A. Times (but you’re not disclosing that fact), I’m going to tell people.

    Because it’s funny.

    Also add how you’re into anonymity!

    actus (6234ee)

  7. This is better than TV, medium fast cars or even kissing you sister. This is great fun. Keep up the good work.

    Huey (81c03e)

  8. One immediately wonders two things:

    1- Is Masha/workingjournalist Mr Hiltzik; and
    2- Wouldn’t this be yet another violation of the Times’ stated policy about using anonymity in posting while referencing working for the Times, at least insofar as the “workingjournalist” tag is concerned?

    Dana (dd8e7e)

  9. The LA Times should care because I think any mainstream organization that wants to be taken seriously takes pains to maintain an objective, unbiased perspective. When their employees are acting like idiots on the internet, spouting off absurdly partisan BS that makes the DNC talking points look reserved and cautious by comparison, then they obviously have a problem. You expect people to believe that these ideologues go to work and shed their partisan skins to do their jobs fairly? Why not just hire people that aren’t political extremists? The views that “Masha” expressed specifically are so far to the left and so viciously and sloppily stated, I don’t think she *could* do the job expected of her (whatever that may be) if she wanted to. It certainly impunes the papers credibility at the very least. For that alone they should care.

    srl (bc5d83)

  10. Is Masha Hamilton writing for the LA Times again?

    It’s kind of an unusual name.

    Rob (4ec352)

  11. And she was in Moscow. I wonder if this was at the same time as Hiltzik?

    At any rate, if that was her and she came on to a website, using her first name or her job title (or a made up name for that matter), making comments, I don’t have a huge issue with it.

    The problem, as Patterico pointed out, is dishonestly creating multiple personalities to support your official LA Times writing and attack your critics.

    I’d be concerned, however, if I was the LA Times and it came to my attention that one of my reporters or employees was using LAT computers to leave comments on a blog calling someone a “fascist”.

    I might talk with them and ask them if they could please call people fascists on their own time. And if they insisted on doing so, I might encourage them to use a pseudonym….

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  12. Also add how you’re into anonymity!

    No matter how many times you keep saying this, it doesn’t make any more sense than, “Why are you criticizing a blogger? I thought you liked blogs!”

    Jim Treacher (f69e1b)

  13. Well, I just emailed Masha Hamilton:

    Oh hey! How’s it going?

    I’m just wondering if you are the Masha that comments on Patterico’s blog.

    Are you?

    Thanks!

    Chris
    http://lovingjacqui.net/

    … and her blog contact form said she’d get back to me as quick as she can, so I’m sure we’ll find out right away.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  14. I work in a moderate position for a boring old corporation. Once a year, I have to sign an ethics pledge that says, among other things and in more lawyerly language, that if I do or say anything stupid that embarrasses the company, I’m toast. It doesn’t have to be anything remotely related to my job. If I’m picked up drunk driving or participate in a violent rally at a sports event, even if I’m not ultimately charged with anything, that can be enough, if the incident comes to the attention of my employer. If I used a company computer to participate (badly) in an online bitch-slapping session that was actually related to my company, and it went all embarrassingly public? There is not language to describe how fired I would be.

    In GrownUpJobLand, people work very, very hard to keep work and everything else separate, because not doing so can be extremely costly.

    S. Weasel (e16cf7)

  15. Well, if Masha isn’t a Hiltzik sock puppet, see seems to be a fellow traveler:

    The politics of fear have been a favored tool of the Bush administration but they nearly always backfire.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/hamilton10072004.html

    TakeFive (773db2)

  16. I think “The Point of the Posts About Masha” was to inspire a bit of this:

    “The LA times would have an IT record of the Masha posts. Maybe file a freedom of information act to them to get the info.” – [Comment by jd]

    Just prior to this turning really nasty, Hiltzik last December commented that Hewitt’s and your techniques recall “the naming-names fetish of the 50’s red-baiters.”

    Is that roughly the point this turned into an outing oeuvre?

    [No, Steve, that most certainly was *not* the point. I think jd’s suggestion is, with due respect to him, ludicrous. The point is what I *said* the point is. — P]

    steve (2552b4)

  17. Why do I get the feeling that many “regular” leftwing commenters on rightwing blogs are going to go suddenly very quiet?

    Rightwingsparkle (934a68)

  18. They should comment all they want.

    BUT… if you’re commenting from your work computer, you should:

    1.) make sure this is okay with your employer in the first place (both to use their IT resources this way and your wages too, if you’re being paid)
    2.) restrain from calling people fascists

    The second is, of course, optional if your employer is okay with that. However, do you believe the LA Times is okay with it?

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  19. Rightwingsparkle (who’s really pretty cute) asked:

    Why do I get the feeling that many “regular” leftwing commenters on rightwing blogs are going to go suddenly very quiet?

    They needn’t go quiet as long as they have been honest!

    I haven’t noticed Patterico trashing Psyberian or Actus (who also comments frequently on Jeff Goldstein’s site), because they haven’t been dishonest about themselves. (Actus frequently gets trashed on Protein Wisdom, but it’s for the opinions he writes, not for dishonesty.)

    Dana (a90377)

  20. As Patterico and others pointed out previously in comments under another post, Masha Hamilton as listed above is probably not the Masha who commented on this blog.

    Well, when she replies to my email, we’ll no for sure.

    In the meantime, I wonder who is using that moniker? I’m curious, but only curious. The people at the LA Times are the ones who have a right to be concerned (or not depending on how they want their IT resources and wages used).

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  21. Why do I get the feeling that many “regular” leftwing commenters on rightwing blogs are going to go suddenly very quiet?

    Well I’m still here. I’m not intimidated (and I’m not insinuating that intimidation is Patterico’s intention anyway). But usually it isn’t right to comment on any blog from work – left, right or center whether you’re in the news business or not.

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  22. Thanks Dana, but I’m glad you don’t have my picture. I think I’m ugly. But RightwingSparkle is lookin’ good. In the immortal works of Beavis (or was it Butthead) “Hey…Bayba.”

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  23. “Why do I get the feeling that many “regular” leftwing commenters on rightwing blogs are going to go suddenly very quiet?” – [Rightwingsparkle]

    Do tell.

    Guess the IP witchhunt has legs.

    The Hiltzik swarm was descending well before the pseudonyms were unmasked. A line reporter is supposed to be a noncommital nebbish and Hiltzik is clearly not that. I think that’s the irritant.

    steve (2552b4)

  24. Patterico Counts Coup:

    Thanks to you, Patterico, and thanks to Michael Hiltzik and his imaginary friends, for the walk down memory lane. What a hoot it is to revisit an old thread and read again the comments from Hiltzik et al from a few short months ago. Sweet, very sweet indeed.

    Occasionally, the mask slips and we get to see behind MSM’s double talk and tap dance, and as we watch MH’s self immolation, we marvel at his ham-handed duplicity, and yet at the same time, we feel an uneasy and conflicting twinge of human compassion.

    However, it’s a tough to see where normal empathy might be of much comfort here, perhaps a bit later. And, the band played on, it was a different tune, but few dancers seemed to take notice.

    Black Jack (f83b28)

  25. Pff! IP witchhunt! The sheer bulk, sheer mass, sheer length and width and depth of ignorance coupled with smugness diplayed by (among others) journalists these days, takes my breath away. To be alive and plugged in and playing online in 2006 and not know a thing or two about IP takes some SERIOUS stupid.

    If you didn’t know, would you not at least suspect there was such a thing?

    S. Weasel (e16cf7)

  26. “And, the band played on, it was a different tune, but few dancers seemed to take notice.” – Black Jack

    It was that irrepressible, “Platitude Polka.”

    steve (2552b4)

  27. Re 27, No, no, you must be one of the oblivious ones. It was from that sailboat guy, you know, Cheeseburger Jimmy’s Changes in Attitudes, Changes in LAT-itudes.

    Black Jack (f83b28)

  28. Wow. I think I will comment here more often.

    Rightwingsparkle (934a68)

  29. Patterico,

    I sincerely hope they keep doing dumbstuff and you keep nailing them. I haven’t had this much fun with photoshop ever!

    I know my son will get a laugh out of this whole series of events, too, when he gets a chance to read about it.

    Keep up the good work!

    Gaius

    Gaius Arbo (ac7009)

  30. related:

    Given the myopic views, based upon invented evidence and tortured logic, of a journalist such as masha does anyone think that personal bias WILL NOT permeate his/her “reporting?”

    bains (b7cdc0)

  31. Wow. Rightwingsparkle is much more than “pretty cute.” And from Texas no less.
    Keep up the good work Patterico.

    David (65b2f1)

  32. This is especially ironic. In an interview about blogging in the USC Annenburg Online Journalism Review Hiltzig said this when asked if his blog was being edited. ….”And I think essentially they trusted me to know where the limits were.”…

    DOH!

    Kevin Peters (92760e)

  33. Patterico and everyone, I just received a response from Misha Hamilton re my e-mail asking if she is the same ‘Misha’ who has been posting re Hiltzik.

    She says she is NOT the person doing so.

    Steve in Lakewood CA (883223)

  34. Oops… MASHA I mean. Sorry. (Why can’t I ever post-here errror-free??)

    Steve in Lakewood CA (883223)

  35. Rightwingsparkle – why would us regular lefties go very quiet over this? *puzzled look*

    [Exactly. You and steve and Psyberian and Geek, Esq. and Charlie and lying m.croche and Asinistra and actus and whoever else I’m forgetting have nothing to worry about. Are you sock puppeteers? Are you defending the LAT and calling me a fascist from an LAT computer, while pretending you’re not an LAT staffer? Okay then. You’re fine. — P]

    aphrael (6b0647)

  36. aphrael,

    I said “many” lefties. Implying that there are probably quite a few journalists out there commenting on rightwing blogs under different names and probably from work.

    See?

    Rightwingsparkle (934a68)

  37. FYI, Masha Hamilton emailed me and denied that she is the “Masha” who commented on this blog. I believe her.

    Chris from Victoria, BC (5d90a2)

  38. Not just journalists, rightwing.

    On more than a few blogs, it’s generally been a banning offense to:

    1. Post under different pseudonyms AND
    2. Do so in order to create an image of consensus/support for a given position.

    From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t even matter what the politics are: it’s a blogging no-no.

    So, for those who have been pulling these kinds of shenanigans (whether they’re journalists or not), I suspect that there’s going to be some evaporating handles and pseudonyms from various blogs.

    Lurking Observer (66a58f)

  39. ‘Sparkle,

    Where in Texas are you from anyway? I am originally from Texas myself. I’m a Fort Worth boy, though I went to law school in Austin.

    Patterico (156eed)

  40. Hi guys,

    I haven’t read all the posts here, either from Masha or the replies, because I simply don’t have enough time, but I thought I would let you know that despite the kind of creepy coincidences — I did work for the LATimes in Moscow and my name IS Masha — this Masha isn’t me.

    Masha (a90377)

  41. Psy wrote:

    Thanks Dana, but I’m glad you don’t have my picture. I think I’m ugly. But RightwingSparkle is lookin’ good. In the immortal works of Beavis (or was it Butthead) “Hey…Bayba.”

    I’ve noticed that it’s the female bloggers who are more likely to have their pictures posted; you’ll note that my pic isn’t on my site.

    Of course, far-left blogger Maryscott O’Connor of My Left Wing wasn’t all that happy with this picture of her that the Washington Post ran! 🙂

    Dana (9f37aa)

  42. Sparkle wrote:

    aphrael,

    I said “many” lefties. Implying that there are probably quite a few journalists out there commenting on rightwing blogs under different names and probably from work.

    See?

    Actually, while it would, technically, run afoul of the Times’ policy, I wouldn’t see a problem with someone who is a journalist making anonymous comments on blogs, if he didn’t refer to himself as s journalist or to his place of employment. It’s once you start to use your credentials to buttress your opinions that it starts to matter to your employer. Thus, “Masha” ought not to have a problem (other than the fact he was using a computer at work to do it, rather than actually working), but styling himself “workingjournalist” begins to invite questions.

    And the Times certainly did not prohibit Mr Hiltzik from expressing his opinions, and even sponsored a blog, complete with references to the Times, on which he could do so. It was not his opinions which caused this trouble; it was his dishonesty.

    Dana (9f37aa)

  43. Why do I get the feeling that many “regular” leftwing commenters on rightwing blogs are going to go suddenly very quiet?

    No. People here believe in anonymity.

    actus (6234ee)

  44. And honesty.

    Patterico (156eed)

  45. Actus, do you think it’s okay for Hiltzik to post comments with the intent to mislead?

    What about several aliases which support his own views? He can keep his anonymity — but do you feel tricked in any way when he steers his blog with false posts?

    There seems to be two ways of summing up his behavior.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  46. Actus, do you think its okay for Hiltzik to post comments with the intent to mislead?

    I think its ok for him to post anonymous comments. I don’t know his intent.

    And honesty.

    Which is an odd thing to require out of anonymous people. I’ve made myself out here to be a law student. Would you out me if you found out I was a law professor? Or would you preserve my anonymity?

    [So, you’re asking: should I preserve the anonymity of someone who has fundamentally lied about who they are? Good question. I can tell you that you’d be banned instantly. And yes, I’d be inclined to disclose that you were living a lie in the comments here. I think the purpose of anonymity is to allow people with sensitive jobs to comment freely, not to allow people to take dishonest potshots at people and pretend to be things they’re not. But you can take a stab at convincing me that I would be wrong to do that. What do the folks here think about this? — P]

    actus (6234ee)

  47. But unlike you (or me), Hiltzik is not an anonymous person. He wrote as an employee for a news publication. And he held online conversations with himself. As an LA Times Golden State Blog reporter.

    >> “Which is an odd thing to require out of anonymous people.”

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  48. > What do the folks here think about this?

    You phrased the issue correctly, Patterico.

    AMac (e07ab7)

  49. I think anonymity is that. You are anonymous. One can pretend to be a soldier, pretend to be a professor, etc… And we have no way of checking — and thus also no way granting you the merit you deserve — unless that person decides to beak their anonymity.

    I think the better norm is for all of us to be wary of what people claim to be. This is much better than allowing the blog host the power to selectively out people when the host feels that the person has been sufficiently ‘dishonest.’ What If I said here I was a man when in reality I was a woman? Or reduced my age?

    To me, that’s what anonimity means. The only dishonesty I see is when people pretend to be another established persona. Say if I started posting under the name Patterico. But that’s because I’m hurting Patterico, not because I’m deceiving others.

    But unlike you (or me), Hiltzik is not an anonymous person

    He wrote what he thoguht where anonymous comments. Till someone felt deceived by that anonymity and outed him.

    actus (6234ee)

  50. Poppycock, actus. Anonymity is concealing your own identity. Pretending to be something or someone you’re not is fraudulent. There’s a difference, and if you don’t know it, you should.

    Black Jack (7bbb5c)

  51. Remember when Mary Mapes and Dan Rather had an anonymous source who turned out to have deceived them? (Of course, they had reason to know of the deception before running the story, but that’s another issue.) Most journalists said that the source was no longer entitled to anonymity once it was discovered that they had lied.

    Anonymity should not be used to be dishonest.

    Patterico (156eed)

  52. I don’t have a sensitive job but feel the need for anonymity. My identity is my IP address, and through this site, that’s my accountability to you.

    Etiquette and logic dictate that as soon as a poster abuses anonymity, a boardhost can suspend privileges or ban an address. But Hiltzik never was anonymous. He’s a paid employee of a news organization, with duties including the Golden State blog. In his profile he agreed to a truthful identity yet carried out online conversations with himself. Ironically, because no one posting agreed with his views. That’s helpful circulation information the Times should analyze.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  53. Poppycock, actus. Anonymity is concealing your own identity. Pretending to be something or someone you’re not is fraudulent. There’s a difference, and if you don’t know it, you should.

    I know the difference. And I think that anonymity means you don’t know who actually is behind some comemnts, and thus you can’t be fooled by htem. Caveat lector, basically.

    Most journalists said that the source was no longer entitled to anonymity once it was discovered that they had lied.

    That’s a norm in journalism. Its punishment for being burned by a source. Thats because they staked their reputation on that source. I don’t think that’s the norm on the internet. I don’t think that’s what happens on the internet. Nobody is staking their reputation on what I post here. And people ought to trust me to the extent that I have earned their trust by the merits of what I have said.

    If people are trusting me beacuse I say I’m an anonymous law professor, that’s their problem. And I can see they’ll be upset if they find out i’m not. But I think the blame is on them for accepting argument from authority. If they’re trusting me because I’ve been right in the past, or have a meritorious argument, thats something else.

    Basically, I’m a strong believer in anonymity. And yes, some people are fooled by what they read on the web. Too bad for them. They shouldn’t rely on what an obviously made-up name on a blog says.

    Caveat Lector.

    actus (6234ee)

  54. They shouldn’t rely on what an obviously made-up name on a blog says.

    Basically you are saying nobody should pay any attention to what *you* say.

    I happen to agree with that, but I’m surprised to see you admit it.

    Patterico (156eed)

  55. Basically you are saying nobody should pay any attention to what *you* say.

    They should certainly not pay attention to it on the basis of who I say I am, if I am anonymous. They should pay attention to it on the merits of what I say. That’s an upside of anonymity.

    actus (6234ee)

  56. And you don’t think that, if you turned out to be a bald-faced liar, that would have any bearing on the merits of what you say?

    We don’t even really know the people we think we know — people whose names are out there. Many public officials and commentators have skeletons in their closets. Maybe even most. Very few people are quite what they seem. But we feel comfortable making judgments about whom to trust in situations where they make assertions about things they have personal knowledge of, based on their track record of truthfulness and reasonableness. And if they turn out to be complete fakes, that obviously has a bearing on whether you can trust them.

    Patterico (156eed)

  57. actus, I do pay attention to what you say, that’s why I believe so little of it.

    Black Jack (7bbb5c)

  58. It’s straying away from the man who lied. Most blogs are a labor of love, his was part of a high-profile media job. Incentive to cover his own arse, ethics be damned.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  59. And you don’t think that, if you turned out to be a bald-faced liar, that would have any bearing on the merits of what you say?

    And blogging/ commenting under a handle other than my name is not being a bald faced liar. If you want to expose people who lie about who they are, go ahead. But don’t say you’re into anonymity.

    Blogging/commenting without identifying that i’m from a place that forces me to identify myself is the point of anonymity. I can see newspapers don’t want to go there, but they also don’t say they are big defenders of their reporters acting anonymously.

    In the end, for me the line isn’t drawn at lying, at dishonesty. Its drawn at identity theft. At least there we have brighter lines as to when a wrong has occured. Even then though, I’m more into the remedy that we should out the theft, rather than the thief. Though I could be persuaded otherwise.

    actus (6234ee)

  60. They should certainly not pay attention to it on the basis of who I say I am, if I am anonymous. They should pay attention to it on the merits of what I say.

    Well then, I’ve got some bad news for you.

    Jim Treacher (f69e1b)

  61. And blogging/ commenting under a handle other than my name is not being a bald faced liar. If you want to expose people who lie about who they are, go ahead. But don’t say you’re into anonymity.

    The first sentence in the above is at oddsd with the second.

    McGehee (5664e1)


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