L.A. Times Cuts Column After ‘Misrepresentation’

The L.A. Times canning of first Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State blog and eventually his column is the latest development to strike the high-drama, unclearly defined world of newspaper blogging.

Last week, L.A. Observed posted that Hiltzik had been using up to three nicknames in his comments on right-wing blogs… namely that of L.A. Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey, who posts at Patterico’s Pontifications.

Columnist and blogger Matt Welch is hosting an extensive conversation about Hiltzik’s suspension on the L.A. Times new Opinions blog.

The Times editor’s note admits that no ethical violations were committed and that “an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web.” BUT… “Hiltzik has acknowledged using pseudonyms to post a single comment on his blog on latimes.com”

Hiltzik, a Times columnist for 20 years, won a Pulitzer in 1999 for reporting on entertainment industry corruption.

As Mack Reed posts in L.A. Voice:

[Hiltzik] stumbled by manufacturing two of his greatest fans, posing as them on his own blog and others, and trying to mislead the public as to his own popularity – both the height of vanity and the depth of stupidity for a blogger.

By commenting on his own blog using a pseudonym, Hiltzik gets what he deserves. But what concerns me about the swift reaction by the L.A. Times is the notion that they may find it unacceptable for any of their employees to post *anywhere* under pseudonyms.

Not an unthinkable add-in to the Times code of ethics, this would essentially make it difficult for Times columnists to blog *at all*, as to post a comment on a blog using a real name regularly affiliated with the Times could constitute its own violation — that of expressing bias or taking sides — moreso than driving around with I *heart* Fidel or Jeb/Condi ’08 bumper stickers would suggest.

I occasionally blog and comment anonymously or using a pseudonym out of fear that a potential employer or client may one day judge me — or worse — based on my cached expressions. I would hope we’re not heading towards an environment in which I must worry about misrepresenting myself by choosing to voice my opinion anonymously.

Many law bloggers and scholars have posted in-depth regarding the issue of blogger anonymity. See here, here, and here.

Stephen Colbert Smokes the Prez

Colbert headlined this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, attended by, among others, George Clooney, Ludacris, Karl Rove, the First Lady and the president.

Broken down at E&P:

WASHINGTON A blistering comedy ?tribute? to President Bush by Comedy Central?s faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close.
[…]
As he walked from the podium, the president and First Lady gave Colbert quick nods, unsmiling, and left immediately.

More coverage at Washington Post.

Watch it streaming via C-SPAN, or a generous chunk of Colbert below (grabbed from c&l).

I may not have cable, but I do have the internet. Gems from the Colbert report are regularly available here at Comedy Central.

L.A. Times: Fire Cheney, Rumsfeld

This was a refreshing unsigned editorial:

The secretary should go not because he has been criticized by a group of retired generals but because he embodies the smugness and inability to acknowledge error that has characterized both the Iraq war and the wider war on terrorism. Rumsfeld has been the pinched public face of an administration that has cut legal and humanitarian corners in dealing with people ? including U.S. citizens ? suspected of involvement with terrorists.

more at technorati, Reuters, E&P.

Air Force One Graffiti Stunt

Mega-rich clothing designer Marc Ecko pulled off the unbelievable staging of a two minute video in which what appears to be Air Force One is slathered with the spraypainted phrase “Still Free.” The phrase comes from Ecko’s latest video game, “Getting Up.”

AP via Wired:

President Bush’s jet looked so authentic that the Air Force wasn’t immediately certain whether the plane had been targeted.[…]

“I wanted to do something culturally significant, wanted to create a real pop-culture moment,” said Marc Ecko of Marc Ecko Enterprises. “It’s this completely irreverent, over-the-top thing that could really never happen: this five-dollar can of paint putting a pimple on this Goliath.”

Ecko later explained the stint here. The video was staged covertly using a rented 747 at a hangar at San Bernadino airport.

Click on image to watch video.

Blogosphemers

I always think articles like the one in today’s Wall Street Journal are a kind of jinx. Can Bloggers Make Money?

The old guard says no way, new guard says why not. Some interesting opinions to peruse, but overall, isn’t it a jinx to go about your business thinking only of the green potential?

Of more interest, the ever-optimistic web innovator and Technorati founder David Sifry has released Part One of this month’s State of the Blogosphere report. “The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months,” is just one of the findings in his research.

Possibly the most useful item floating through the Blogosphere this week (aside from, on a local level, the 225 things to do in L.A. meme – in celebration of the city’s 225th anniversary) is Buzz Machine’s Jeff Jarvis publishing this questionniare, given to any freelancer who intends to write for the New York Times.

Jarvis “suggest[s] that bloggers should answer the questions as well and post them online to pressure mainstream journalists into such open disclosure.”

He answers the questions on his disclosures page, and Vaughn Ververs at Public Eye responds, as does Regret the Error.