Shafer on Siegel

So Jack Shafer has now weighed in, as we all knew he inevitably would, on l’affaire

Lee Siegel. But despite the fact that he’s late to the game, he really Doesn’t

Get It.

Shafer’s problem is that he thinks that Siegel was suspended for sock-puppetry.

That might be true in a narrow, technical sense. But I’m sure that a beloved

and valued TNR contributor whose sock-puppet said nothing embarrassing would

not have been suspended in this way: there are always shades of gray, as Shafer

goes to great lengths to point out. And indeed it might not even be true at

all: Grammar Police says

that "the decision to oust Siegel was made, apparently, before

it was revealed that he played sock puppet for his own blog."

Siegel’s sins were much more egregious than simply using a sock puppet. For

one thing, his recent blog entries had been, to put it politely, bizarre, and

a lot of the blogosphere was convinced he had completely gone off the deep end.

And then his comments under the name sprezzatura were often

very vicious:

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.

When it became clear that such vitriol was being written by Siegel himself,

Foer had to suspend him – not for posting such material anonymously, but

for posting it at all.

Shafer says that "I predict that Siegel will return to the magazine before

Thanksgiving after having done his penance" – I’m more than happy

to take the opposite side of that wager, at any stakes. The universally

gleeful reaction to Siegel’s downfall was proof, if any was needed, that Siegel

was adding no value whatsoever to TNR, and indeed was destroying, at the margin,

TNR’s reputation. Now he’s gone, there’s zero reason to bring him back.

So, Jack, fancy a bet?

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