Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Counterfeit Columnist

Patterico exposes Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik, who has apparently been posting comments on his blog and others under false pseudonyms. This act of purposely misleading readers is one of the most reprehensible things a journalist can do, and one of the fastest ways he can destroy his credibility. LAObserved explains:

I wonder if we'll hear from any Times editors about whether they condone a staff columnist padding the "pro" comments on a Times blog by switching between identities. Isn't that something like a Times reporter penning a fictitious letter to the editor praising his own story? It certainly misled the readers of Hiltzik's blog.

This is a very serious matter that threatens the ethical standards of the Los Angeles Times. Perhaps that's why they have suspended Hiltzik's blogging rights:
The Times has suspended Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State blog on Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper’s website, and on other websites, under names other than his own. That is a violation of The Times ethics policy, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public. The policy applies to both the print and online editions of the newspaper. The Times is investigating the postings.

Uh oh. I guess this kind of move makes sense when a newspaper discovers a journalist in direct violation of its ethics guidelines. Hugh Hewitt has the details on that --just scroll down to the update section of this post.

But the real question remains: what will the MSM do about this story? Actually cover it? Hard to imagine they would go after one of their own. And what will the times do about it? Apologize to its readers? Suspending Hiltzik's blog is a start, but will the Time's really step up to the plate?

Only time will tell. Until then, things do not look good for Mr. Hiltzik.