LA Times blogger suspended for being a douchebag

Or something like that.

So, here’s the short version: Michael Hiltzik is a purportedly liberal columnist for the LA Times, who started a sponsored blog, Golden State, for the Times back in October of last year. (I say “purportedly” only because I’m not familiar with his work, so I don’t know if he’s genuinely liberal, or “liberal” like the entire MSM is “liberal,” although his blogroll certainly seems to suggest he is actually liberal.)

Yesterday, conservative blogger Patterico revealed in a well-documented post that Hiltzik has been posting not only as himself, but also under two pseudonyms, which he used to issue approving comments of his own work and castigations of other bloggers and journalists he doesn’t like. Hiltzik then admitted it and basically said, “What’s the big deal? Patterico’s a poopyhead.” (More specifically, he ignored the issue of how he was using his pseudonyms and mounted a defense of pseudonymity, which, of course, isn’t the issue.) Now the top post of his blog informs readers that the LA Times has suspended his blog as they investigate the charges.

That is a violation of The Times ethics guidelines, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public.
Of course it is. This strikes me as no different than if a columnist wrote a letter to the editor praising his own work under a fake name. Unless Hiltzik’s got a raging case of multiple personality disorder, there’s no excuse for hiding behind fake, anonymous commenting personas to defend your work, no less engage in flame wars, then run back to your own blog and post as yourself to congratulate your other, secret self on what a good job you’re doing taking on your opponents.

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.

In the interim, he won a Pulitzer for beat journalism. He certainly strikes me as someone who ought to have known better. Something tells me if I were singing my own praises in the comments of this blog or others, or hid my criticisms of others, behind conjured façades, the Shakers might consider me a bit of a wanker—and they’d be right.

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