Patterico's Pontifications


For the Second Time, No Hiltzik Column

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Hiltzik — Patterico @ 6:09 am

As on Monday, the L.A. Times web site does not show a business column from Michael Hiltzik today. The column usually runs on Mondays and Thursdays.

UPDATE: Cathy Seipp says she hears that they’re deciding what to do with him this week. That makes sense. They can’t keep pretending that they have suspended only his blog, while his column doesn’t run in the print edition. My guess: look for a decision by Monday.

I hope they go easy on the guy — and I hope he publicly acknowledges the error and its importance. While I continue to believe that this was a minor infraction in the grand scheme of things, there is a significant group of people out there who believe I’m being far too kind. Hiltzik should not minimize the offense, as he did before. He should apologize, and pledge not to do it again.

UPDATE: Editors have discontinued his column. He will be reassigned. Details here.

20 Responses to “For the Second Time, No Hiltzik Column”

  1. Perhaps he has the sniffles.

    Old Coot (caf903)

  2. Maybe he’s getting replaced by Michael Koshi.


    JRM (5e00de)

  3. Or a, y’know, working journalist.

    McGehee (5664e1)

  4. Maybe Masha can give us an update.

    Susan (6e9769)

  5. It’s a fair bet he’s been suspended subject to review.

    nk (bfc26a)

  6. Maybe he’s getting married and got cold feet. Maybe he ran away to Texas. The runaway reporter.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  7. I’ll go with NK’s answer; I still think that the most likely result is that he gets canned.

    Dana (a90377)

  8. Of course, if he does get canned, you could always offer him space on this site! 🙂

    Dana (a90377)

  9. The flying Pattericos shot the wings off his Zero. Black smoke, engine burning, downward spiral and he’s in the drink.

    Fred Z (83acf5)

  10. A-ha! They’ve carried him away and put him in one of our clandestine Gulags.

    Psyberian (dd13d6)

  11. Fred Z – Right after he was heard to say,
    “You die now, Yank!!”
    (sorry, you had to have seen some old movies to get that one).

    MikeH (3e17f9)

  12. In the post that started it all, Patterico wrote: “After calling the bloggers “stupid,” Nofanofcablecos argued in the comment that (aka TV4US) is “a front for the phone companies, which are pushing the State Assembly bill to deregulate their own TV service while keeping the cable companies regulated.”

    In an amazing coincidence, just two days later, that argument was the thesis of Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State column.”

    My guess is that this is what is bothering the LAT the most. It sounds very much like inventing a source or, if that’s too jaundiced a view, trying out an editorial opinion pseudonymously before proposing it under his own name.

    nk (57e995)

  13. My guess is the Times is choosing between the lesser of two evils on the embarrassment scale. ie. fireing Hiltzik or abandoning their code of ethics. My guess is that he will cleaning out the ole’ desk.

    smfdoc (bed452)

  14. I started using my on-line handle ~5 years ago. After some truly obnoxious episodes by yours truly, I started to reflect on how my online anonymous behaviour reflected on my online persona/nom de plume. I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to be able to (semi-anonymously) make arguments that would be respected, I should act in a manner deserving respect – the same way I would act if I was using my real name. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for Mr. Hiltzik.


    NewEnglandDevil (cc6b20)

  15. As you’ve long documented, the LAT (like most other daily papers) has a serious business/circulation/advertising problem

    Hiltzik’s behavior is reflective of the underlying culture at the LAT – that they are better than their readers. They don’t have to be honest, or transparent, or fair. They are in charge.

    They may have accepted that they have a problem. If MH stays, it’s a signal to the rest of the staff that their culture is safe. If he goes, it’s a signal that things are going to change.

    Richard R (a3c869)

  16. My prediction (is there a betting pool?): The Dog Trainer “accepts” his resignation in a news release issued after 5:30 P.M. today (the best news hole it can find).

    Kneave Riggall (bdadd5)

  17. Sticking my oar in late, I must disagree with our host, the Honorable P, regarding the Hiltzik mess.

    As one who put his real-name byline on thousands of dispatches over the years, and as one whose reflexes are tuned more by newsroom protocol than to Net manners, I think Hiltzik is in much deeper trouble than most bloggers can imagine. I am not in the prognostication business but I think a great deal should be read into the fact that his column has not been seen all week.

    Misrepresentation is a bureaucratic or corporate crime that cannot be tolerated in Establishment journalism, and using any kind of misleading tag or moniker on the Web is closely akin to misrepresenting yourself on the telephone or in person to gain information from a news source. When I broke into the news business in Chicago in the middle 1960s, that practice was commonplace. By the time I left daily journalism in the middle 1980s, it was a firing offense.

    For better and worse, the newsman’s life is bounded tightly by his relationship to the corporation that employs him or her. There was a time when LAT reporters were expected to refrain from any political acitivity, even on their own time, on grounds that such involvement was antithetical to their oath of office, so to speak. That edict was withdrawn for obvious reasons but the reporting and editing staff were always made to understand that they were employees first and humans second.

    In that light, the common Net practice of using handles or pseudonyms is a journalistic infraction. Taking it a step or two further, as it appears Mike Hiltzik did, is a more serious corporate infraction and I would not be surprised if it costs him the greatest job he ever had.

    Evan Maxwell (d2d8b2)

  18. Responding to Hiltzik’s absence from his column, Psyberian opined in comment #10:

    A-ha! They’ve carried him away and put him in one of our clandestine Gulags.

    It’s more likely that he is now going to receive some “Persecuted Journalist of the Year” from or the Pulitzer Committee (or both) and is busy writing his speech and brushing his tuxedo.

    JVW (550f73)

  19. “but the reporting and editing staff were always made to understand that they were employees first and humans second.”

    And really, it isn’t anything they don’t expect from Bush or Cheney as well.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

  20. Maybe they’ll just airbrush his picture out of any and all LA Times staff photos, remove his name from the printed staff roster, and then deny that he ever existed—just like Stalin did with Trotsky, and Mao did with whomever he deemed fatally annoying. Only, the Communists did this to those whose methods deviated from the Party line; Hiltzik’s actions seem right in step (lockstep? goosestep?) with the rest of his ilk.

    Michael Lyster (568a7a)

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