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Comments by YACCS
Monday, September 04, 2006

Prank my ass

New Republic Suspends an Editor for Attacks on Blog

Published: September 4, 2006

A senior editor at The New Republic was suspended and his blog was shut down on Friday after revelations that he was involved in anonymously attacking readers who criticized his posts.

Lee Siegel, creator of the Lee Siegel on Culture blog for, was suspended indefinitely from the magazine after a reader accused him of using a “sock puppet,” or Internet alias, to attack his critics in the comments section of his blog. An editor’s apology replaced the blog on the Web site, announcing that the blog would no longer be published and noting that The New Republic deeply regretted “misleading” its readers.

Franklin Foer, the New Republic’s editor, said in an interview that he first became aware of the accusations against Mr. Siegel on Thursday afternoon, after a colleague noticed a comment in the Talkback section of Mr. Siegel’s blog that accused him of using the alias “sprezzatura” to defend his articles and assail his critics.

That comment, posted by a reader named “jhschwartz” on Aug. 27, said that “sprezzatura appears only to weigh in on TNR forums to admonish and taunt posters who dislike Lee Siegel” before concluding, “I would say with 99% confidence that ‘sprezzatura’ is a Siegel alias.”

“We launched an investigation,” Mr. Foer said. He added that he was confident that sprezzatura’s posts were written with Mr. Siegel’s “full cooperation,” but declined to say whether the alias was used by Mr. Siegel himself because the affair was still under investigation. “As soon as the facts of the case became clear to me on Friday, we closed down the blog and made an announcement.” Mr. Foer said that while he liked to see blog posts before they were published, Mr. Siegel did not have an editor assigned to his blog entries.

In a statement by e-mail, Mr. Siegel said, “I’m sorry about my prank, which was certainly not designed to harm a magazine that has been my happy intellectual home for many years.”


I don't believe this version of events coming a week after Siegel libeled Professor James Kincaid. Ezra Klein had this info for months. No one at TNR had a clue about this? Bullshit.

Not having an editor for the blog? Ok, so he was just letting any old shit go up on the magazine's website. My god, what a striking and damaging admission which any lawyer would have a field day with. No one at TNR realized that this is an issue of exposure and liability in a way that the company's lawyers should have called them on long ago, at least after Zengerle's fuck up.

I still believe that his writing was subject to legal review because of the serious nature of the charges he made against Kincaid, and the idea that the blog was not overseen by an editor is pretty much editorial malpractice.

I'll go into that later, but simply put, libel law extends to the internet. You have a risk of exposure there, just as much as you do in print. There is no gap between the two because the Internet is regarded the same as print for legal purposes. So to leave a blog owned by a publication without any editorial supervision is amazingly sloppy management. "Liked to see posts before they go up" is a two fold admission. First, it means all the posts were approved by the editor, even if he didn't check every word. Two, it means he neglected to properly supervise content on the blog.

Which explains the reckless and sloppy way posts went up and later had to be churlishly retracted.

Here's a question: considering that they came close to libel with Kos and had to retract most of what Zengerle said, why didn't he assign an editor the blog.

After Marty Peretz made his racist comments after Lieberman lost, drawing much online derision, why didn't Foer hire an editor then.

Now, he's pretty much had to get rid of Siegel because there was no editorial supervision.

Imagine how this would sound in deposition?

Yeah, this didn't have anything to do with lawyers. Right.

posted by Steve @ 12:26:00 PM

12:26:00 PM

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