Friday, April 21, 2006

How Thems Do It

Los Angeles Times Yanks Columnist's Blog
Hiltzik Accused of Using Pseudonyms
By Howard KurtzWashington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 21, 2006;

The Los Angeles Times suspended the blog of one of its top columnists last night, saying he violated the paper's policy by posting derogatory comments under an assumed name.

The paper said in an online editor's note that Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winner who writes the Golden State column, had admitted posting remarks on both his Times blog and on other Web sites under names other than his own. The Times said it is investigating the matter. Editor Dean Baquet declined comment, and Hiltzik said he could not comment.

The deceptive postings grew out of a running feud between Hiltzik and conservative bloggers in Southern California. One is Hugh Hewitt, a radio talk show host and blogger. The other is an assistant Los Angeles district attorney named Patrick Frey, who maintains a blog under the name Patterico's Pontifications.

When commenters on Frey's Web site criticized Hiltzik, an examination by Frey of the Internet addresses involved showed it was the Times writer who responded in remarks posted under the name "Mikekoshi."

Frey wrote that "the evidence is overwhelming that he has used more than one pseudonym. Hiltzik and his pseudonymous selves have echoed each other's arguments, praised one another, and mocked each other's enemies. All the while, Hiltzik's readers have been unaware that (at a minimum) the acid-tongued 'Mikekoshi' . . . is in fact Hiltzik himself."

Frey cited other examples. On another local blog called L.A. Observed, he noted, "Mikekoshi" described Los Angeles writer Cathy Seipp "as a 'tool' and as someone 'hampered by her own ignorance.' "

On Frey's site, "Mikekoshi" said of Hewitt: "The prospect of having Hugh Hewitt running around loose in public without a muzzle should make any intelligent person nervous."

"Mikekoshi" has also ripped Frey, writing, "Congratulations, Patterico, for a new high-water mark in dopey criticism," and "What a buffoonish post this is."

The public sniping has been just as antagonistic. Hewitt took a swipe this week at the Times's corporate parent, the Tribune Co., for a dip in profits and circulation. Hiltzik responded on his blog that Hewitt's Web traffic is down because "his peculiar brand of reactionary conservatism has become increasingly marginalized on the fringes of American political life."

Hewitt last night called the Times editor's note "very, very clever. It states the 'offense' is misrepresenting identity to the public, not the publication of false identities and the manipulation of opinions so as to influence opinions. Are they digging into all of Hiltzik's stories? All of the purported comments on his blog? . . . It does seem like a question of how a huge media institution will treat deception within its product."

Hiltzik and a Times colleague shared a 1999 Pulitzer for beat reporting for exposing corruption in the entertainment industry.

On his Times blog, before the editor's note appeared, Hiltzik did not deny using the name "Mikekoshi" and seemed to dismiss Frey's complaint: "This is amusing, because most of the comments posted on his website are anonymous or pseudonymous. . . . Anonymity for commenters is a feature of his blog, as it is of mine. It's a feature that he can withdraw from his public any time he wishes. He has chosen to do that in one case only, and we might properly ask why. The answer is that he's ticked off that someone would disagree with him."

The editor's note said that Times policy, both in print and online, is for "editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public."


At April 21, 2006 9:47 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Thursday, April 20

Mark Steyn and Hugh Hewitt, in honor of Michael Hiltzik, making it up as they go along on Pulitzer journalism, the levels of depravity in Iran, and the unnerving blandness of Chinese dictators.


HH: Columnist to the world, Mark Steyn, begins today as he does most Thursdays. is where you can find all of his work. Mark, I want to begin with journalism today, because the Pulitzers came out, and the New York Times won for betraying national security secrets, the New Orleans Times-Picayune won for creating frozen bodies in freezers that weren't there, and today, Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize winning from a few years ago columnist, Michael Hiltzik, is revealed to be a serial creator of his own identities to praise himself on blogs. What's happened to modern journalism?

MS: Well, I think that last one, he should certainly be eligible for one of the Pulitzers for drama and fiction, because that's clearly where his talents lie. I think the other stuff is basically this point that I made a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about journalism. The thing is, it's not about winning the prize, it's about winning the war. And it's absolutely disgraceful that the journalistic establishment in this country sees, has such a sort of homogenous lock-step idea of what good journalism is, that in this case, good journalism is so exposing a particular military intelligence national security operation, that it's unable to function anymore. Because that program's dead, because everybody read about it in the New York Times, including all of America's enemies. And it's outrageous that it's worth doing that just for some statuette on your mantlepiece. I don't even know if it's a statuette. I should say that I'm not eligible. You have to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible, and that in itself is very odd, because most journalistic prizes in most countries, certainly in Britain and Canada, it's to do with the publications...if you appear in a British newspaper, you're eligible for a Britist journalism prize. The Americans seem to operate an unusually closed shop, which suggests to me this sort of beleaguered guild is a big bunch of sensitive wienies about competition on these matters.

HH: Does it shock you, though, the Times-Picayune may be the most shocking, because they simply reported myth and rumor, which created panic and harm, not exactly what Joseph Pulitzer had in mind.

MS: No, but I think that this is the other aspect of American journalism, in that it's in a sense, it's about lame boosterism. So for example, when it comes to the regional awards, the local awards as it were, who do you want to give a kind of pat on the back to? Well obviously, it would be terribly embarrassing for the New Orleans paper not to get anything in the year of Katrina, in the way that in the year of the civil unions debate in Vermont, they gave the prize to this little guy from the Rutland Herald, the editorialist, who had written the most bizarre bunch of unreadable, incoherent, illogical drivel on the issue of civil unions for the Rutland Herald, which is this little newspaper in Rutland, Vermont. And again, it's this business of kind of boosterism for the industry. Nobody's going to be reading, nobody could read, plow through those Rutland Herald stories now, anymore than anyone will want to read the Katrina coverage in a couple of years time. And in this case, it's worse, because it was not just sentimental and hysterical, but it was wrong.

HH: Yup. Now finally, Michael Hiltzik, who has been bile-filled and angry since he started blogging. What do you make of someone who creates their own pseudonyms to praise themselves, and condemn the critics of the's a little Sybil-like.

MS: Well, we used to, in the old days, we used to joke that if your job was under threat, you got your mother to write in, because you actually had to have something on a real piece of paper in a real envelope. And unfortunately, little old mothers and grandmothers are too old and gnarled to be using the internet now. But happily, it's a lot easier just to take out a fake e-mail address, and do it yourself. And what I find interesting about this is that basically, he was responding to a blog, Patterico, which is very hostile to the Los Angeles Times, not particularly hostile, but it just covers it, and subjects it to scrutiny.

HH: Yeah, and he's a prosecutor, Patterico is.

MS: Yes, and exposes it to prosecutorial scrutiny in some ways. Now that's the nature of the internet, that all of us who work for the dead tree media have to get used to the fact that if you say, if you make a passing reference about a particular form of, say, Middle Eastern architecture, then within an hour, you've got fifty e-mails mocking you for not knowing anything about Middle Eastern architecture. No one can be the kind of ignorant generalist that people used to be in newspapers, as recently as five years ago. And I think a lot of mainstream media people are just unsuited, effectively, to that kind of scrutiny.

HH: As one journalist told me today, they've lived in a bubble for so long, now the bubble's gone, and they really can't cope."

At April 21, 2006 6:40 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Maybe it's just me -- but I don't think all these columnists and editorial writers suffering from bipolar disorder and delusions of grandeur, should be demanding that the President do what they demand he should in their infallible judgment -- no matter how award-winning and complimentary their many "admirers" acclaim them to be.

At April 22, 2006 10:26 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

One of the funniest things is to see "award-winning" traditional journalists try to transition to the new media where your credentials mean nothing.

So they go strutting out into the forums thinking everybody is going to lay down for them and worship the ground they walk on -- because they are used to the criticism of the media being suppressed, repressed, edited, controlled, manipulated, distorted -- and having their heads brutally handed to them.

And so now the only way they can perpetuate the myth of the all-knowing and all-powerful (objective) mass media, is try to manipulate it in their customary manner -- which fails utterly in the Big Pond.

It's an entirely different game when has all the weapons -- and when everybody else has weapons too -- and because the game is no longer limited to a self-selected few, the talent pool can possess unimaginable and extraordinary talent that has never been encountered before.

New media accountes for those varying possibilities -- while the old media expects everytbody to do things in their "correct and acceptable" way -- even if it is obviously cheating to everybody else.

While they can still make the rules, others have the option to decide whether they want to play their game. But it's not the only game in town -- or the universe. We've come a long way since PacMan.


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