Liberal L.A. Times columnist-blogger Michael Hiltzik and conservative prosecutor-blogger Patterico have been butting heads and online personas ever since the former joined the blogosphere last October. Even earlier, perhaps, if Patterico is right about the case he lays out on his blog this morning. He offers compelling evidence that Hiltzik has been posting argumentative comments on his own Times blog and on Patterico's blog under the pseudonyms of Mikekoshi and Nofanofcablecos, attacking Patterico and other conservatives and posing as an independent supporter of Hiltzik. You have to wade through some prosecutorial posturing to get to the goods, but Patterico appears to show that 1) Hiltzik has previously used the name Mikekoshi in other online forums, 2) Hiltzik and Mikekoshi recently posted comments on Patterico's blog from the same IP address, and 3) Nofanofcablecos looks suspiciously like Hiltzik as well. Of course, prosecutors only give the jury one loaded version of a case, so the verdict has to wait on Hiltzik. But these seem like charges he'll want to answer—and the Times might want to as well.
* Defense case: (9:25 am) Responding this morning on his blog, Hiltzik mostly goes after Patterico but I think also admits posting anonymous comments—though he argues it's no big deal. Excerpt:
The right-wing blogger Patterico has apparently worked himself into a four-star ragegasm (Tbogg’s inimitable coinage) at the notion of anonymous or pseudonymous postings on his website by me. This is amusing, because most of the comments posted on his website are anonymous or pseudonymous...
Set alight by my recent post tweaking Hugh Hewitt for his numbskulled method of analyzing newspaper economics and newspaper circulation, two subjects about which Hewitt claims omniscience and knows nothing, Frey evidently pored through the IP addresses of comments on his blog to discover that sometimes I commented under my own name, and sometimes under a pseudonym. He noticed that this is a pseudonym I’ve used on other occasions. He pats himself on the back (so to speak) for his brilliant sleuthing.
He seems to think that pseudonymous posting is deceptive, though he can’t articulate why that should be, given the abundance of pseudonyms and anonymity on his own blog starting with the name on the banner....
The Patterico comment threads are generally filled with quacking lunatics agreeing with each other, punctuated by the occasional voice of reason. Now those few dissenting voices will disappear, because Frey has signaled a new policy on anonymity: that it's granted, but only if you toe the Patterico Party Line. Why should anybody subject themselves to his selective exposure?
Um, I suspect Patterico's comment traffic will grow off this one, not shrink. (Hiltzik's too.) Just a guess. Since he didn't address it, 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.
Photo: Los Angeles Times