Lee Siegelpalooza

Jack Shafer of Slate puts in a good word for his "friendly acquaintance" Lee Siegel, sort of.

As I'm sure you know, Lee Siegel was suspended from The New Republic's blog, ostensibly for sockpuppetry.

"Sockpuppetry" is blogofascist for "creating fake online identities and interacting with them."

Bloggers take a dim view of sockpuppetry. Some, like Robert Farley and Gavin of Sadly, No consider the impulse to invent imaginary friends to defend you on your own damned website to be a relatively minor faux pas. Ezra Klein considers sockpuppetry to be an understandable weakness. Others, like Dutch blogger Martin Wisse consider sockpuppetry to be evidence of mental imbalance:


Rob doesn't understand this impulse, because sane people do not use sockpuppets; only kooks or wingnuts do. Sane people do not wake up one day and think "come, let us win this argument by inventing a clever pseudonym like Mertijn Weisse who will agree with all my statements, ahha-ha-ha!" because sane people have not invested so much of their self worth in an argument that they have to win it. Only kooks do.
My own view is closer to Martin's than to Ezra's, but I agree that, in the grand scheme of things, sockpuppetry is a relatively minor offense in the blogosphere.

However, established media outlets who hire bloggers may take a different view of their employees' sockpuppeting at the company store. Lee Siegel put Franklin Foer of The New Republic in an awkward position, and not only because Siegel's alter-ego "sprezzatura" was proven to have launched vicious attacks against the 22-year-old blogger and journalist Ezra Klein:
I'm a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I'm an editor at a magazine in NYC and he's written for me too.) I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their twenties and early thirties. There's this awful suck-up named Ezra Klein--his "writing" is sweaty with panting obsequious ambition--who keeps distorting everything Siegel writes--the only way this no-talent can get him. And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can't. Maybe if they'd let themselves go and write truthfully, they'd get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.
Not-Siegel also made up stuff about Ezra's mom after Ezra wondered in print who gave a windbag like Siegel the keys to TNR's blog:
"One madly ambitious blogger, who has been alternately trying to provoke and fawning over TNR writers in an attempt to break down the door--I'm too polite to mention any names--even asked who it was at TNR who gave me "the keys to a blog." This after his mom sent me a very sweet private email complimenting me on something I'd written and appealing to me to get in touch with her little boy! Tsk tsk. Go to your room."

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