Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ezra Klein's Smarmy Smear

The flap between Ann Althouse and Ezra Klein (pictured) raises some questions about bloggers, blogging, and blog comments. William Jacobson summarizes the brouhaha nicely today. Basically, it seems that Klein is holding Althouse responsible for some comments on her blog, some of which were hostile to Klein. He used this theory to attack Althouse as an anti-Semite because of some of the comments in the thread, completely misrepresenting Althouse herself.

Memeorandum even picked up the scurfuffle with links to internet discussion of the issue.

As bloggers, are we responsible for the comments left by anonymous, or even attributed, posters? Jacobson says, "One of the problems with allowing open commentary on a blog and not screening for content is that one opens oneself up to these sort of attacks." Are we expected to remove and censor any comments that might be hurtful or harmful to specific groups? What about free speech? I've only removed one comment left on my blog and that was one I felt was personally venomous and hateful towards me. And, in retrospect, I felt like I probably should have let it stand. But most of the comments on this blog, not that I get all that many, attack my dim-witted view of the world.

Jacobson writes: "Now Klein plays the 'anti-Semite' card against Althouse by using anonymous blog comments against her. Who placed the anti-Semitic blog comments? Was it Klein himself acting under a pseudonym? I have no evidence of that, but how about if I ran a post titled "Did Ezra Klein post anti-Semitic comments to set up Ann Althouse?"
Klein has effectively smeared Althouse by his twisting of the issue. At the very least he should be exposed for the juvenile "journalistic" tactics he has used. As bloggers we are all subject to this kind of snarky, smarmy smear tactic.

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