Michelle Malkin’s Contact Information Posted

Lovely. Apparently, some left-wingers ostensibly outraged by Michelle Malkin’s posting of a press release with contact information of some radical students, still available on said students’ Web site, have now dug up Malkin’s address and phone number and posted them online, along with a map.

I join Jeff Goldstein in condemning the action. Indeed, it makes no sense either in terms of moral consistency or equivalency. Publishing a press release is not exactly tantamount to digging up private information.

As best I can determine, however, those who committed this act are lunatic fringers and not the prominent leftist bloggers who ginned up the initial blogswarm again Malkin. Several people blogging about this latest event point to this post by John Aravosis but it was an initial condemnation of Malkin’s posting of the student contact info. He does not retaliate in kind.

Ankle Biting Pundits received an email saying that it was at Democratic Underground, a giant group bulletin board, and Lorie Byrd says someone removed it. A commenter at another site linked to the information at an anti-KKK site which still has Malkin’s information up at of 7:12 this morning.

This conduct is despicable. Still, many of those participating in the blogstorm over it tar “left wing bloggers” and “the Left” or “liberals” generically. That is not warranted at this point. So far, the transgressors here appear to be rogue actors with minimal following. Let’s not pretend they are representative of our political opponents.

Others weighing in: California Conservative, The Dread Pundit Bluto, Confederate Yankee, Commissar, Bryan Preston, Ace, John Hawkins

UPDATE: A anonymous commenter and Malkin (via email) inform me that Aravosis originally had a hyperlink to the “anti-KKK site” I reference above but then mysteriously deleted it without explanation or acknowledgement of same. I have emailed Aravosis for comment and will update if/when I receive a reply.

Unless Malkin links to the site in question or others who have violated her privacy and endangered her safety in this way, I will not do so here.

UPDATE 2: This comment at Aravosis’ site (which I should have found earlier) would seem to be the clincher:

John,

You really should remove the link to the site posting Malkin’s information. The single degree of separation smacks of hypocrisy. I say this as an avid reader and supporter.

Wooda | 04.19.06 – 9:59 pm | #

This is very disappointing. I’m by no means a regular reader of Aravosis’ site, but have followed links there numerous times. His style tends not to promote serious intellectual debate with those who hold opposing views but I had not considered him part of the lunatic fringe, either. I’m hoping his removal of the link to the information in question was based on a realization on his part that he’d crossed that line.

UPDATE 3: I had an after-work dinner engagement and Aravosis was out of town. He responded to my email inquiry with a reasonable enough explanation:

Regarding the Michelle Malkin brouhaha, I didn’t “quitely” remove anything – in fact I told Michelle in a private email last night that I had initially posted a link to the OPP site (the site that was going after her in revenge for her going after the college kids) but had decided to remove it. Were I intending to be ‘quiet’ about it, I certainly would [not] have emailed Michelle about it shortly after I did it.

As for why I linked and then delinked, in summarizing the controversy for my readers I linked to both sides of the story in my initial post – I linked to Michelle’s post outing the kids’s contact info, and I linked to the OPP post outing Michelle’s contact info. Later on yesterday one of my readers asked if maybe I should take the link to OPP down, as it would look like we were pushing folks to be as nasty to Malkin as her readers were being to the college kids. I thought about it, and in the end agreed – I didn’t want to feel like I was adopting the same tactics as what Michelle was being criticized for, so I deleted the sentence linking to the folks going after Michelle.

Though, now that you’ve emailed me, I realize that while I took down the link to the Web site going after Michelle, I still have the link up to Michelle’s Web page going after the students and publishing THEIR personal contact info. If anyone should have a problem with what I’ve done, it would be the students as I went out of my way to protect the conservative in this battle but not the liberals. In all fairness, I shouldn’t have linked to either page – but then, how do you even report on these things at all to your readers with no links?

In the end, perhaps the ultimate irony is that some folks on the right appear to be criticizing me for doing what Michelle would not do – take down something that could be used to harass someone.

While I disagree with Aravosis about the equivalency of the two cases, I can understand his rationale for linking the sites. Indeed, I was at something of a quandry this morning writing the piece and then later posting updates because I did not want to post links to the site(s) in question, potentially aggravating Malkin’s situation. Even after an exchange with Malkin this afternoon wherein she implicitly gave me permission to do so, conceding that the proverbial cat was out of the bag, I decided that whatever journalistic value the link provided was outweighed by the dangers of disseminating the information.

Aravosis sent a second email while I was out, noting that:

It’s not at all “normal” or “common” to write “update” whenever you edit something. Most bloggers I know only write “update” when updating a story with additional information – a new article that’s come out, a new twist etc. I don’t know anyone who writes “update” when they simply edit a story, delete things, etc.

It is usually my practice to do that, although I give myself the equivalent of the “five second rule” to edit things that I notice myself soon after posting so long as no reader has commented on it. There is a longstanding debate in the “blogger ethics” arena about this practice.

Not to mention, under the circumstances it would have been rather stupid of me to write a big update telling everyone that I was a deleting a link to a Web site that contains Michelle Malkin’s contact information. The intent was to minimize the desire of folks to harass her, not to maximize it. You don’t minimize it by telling everyone “Hey, you know that link, it actually contains Michelle’s phone number!” That would have been rather counterproductive. That’s why I deleted it without fanfare and immediately notified Michelle.

That’s certainly true. Were I in a similar situation, I would have put up an update to the effect “I initially posted a link to a site [blah blah blah] but thought the better of it after a reader comment and deleted it.” There’s certainly no requirement to do that, though.

In my view Aravosis showed poor judgment in linking to the site in question, especially after having condemned Malkin for posting the contact information of others, but ultimately did the right thing in removing it upon reflection. An update to the post would have been nice from a transparency standpoint but a note to Malkin explaining the situation obviates much of that criticism.

Again, I think taking someone’s personal information (which I understand was from a subscriber-only mailing list) and posting it as part of a controversy and posting someone’s organizational contact information from a press release and posting it are different animals. This is especially true when small children are endangered. But I do believe Aravosis’ intent was simply to report on the escalation of an issue rather than to invite retaliation to Malkin or her family.
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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Indeed, it makes no sense either in terms of moral consistency or equivalency.

    But it makes all the sense in the world in terms of war and, clearly, that’s how some see what’s going on in the blogosphere.

  2. Bhoe says:

    Who is Michelle Malkin?

  3. Jazz says:

    Just to be clear, did you actually see the information posted at the “anti-KKK site” yourself? I only ask because, like many others trying to confirm this story, I did a few Google searches this morning with all of the obvious search keywords and came up with zip, zero, nada. If her personal information was “plastered all over the internet” as some like Goldstein said, it seems to have been a very poorly constructed “plastering” job.

  4. Kate says:

    It was posted briefly in my comments section yesterday (before I deleted and banned the commentor), so I expect it was being spread around pretty widely for a few hours.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Jazz: Yes, I saw it. That’s how I know it was there at 7:12. Given the implications, linking to the information strikes me as irresponsible.

    The information was posted, at earliest, yesterday AM on DU and, so far as I understand, deleted by yesterday evening. The anti-KKK site had the information dated yesterday but I don’t recall/didn’t see a timestamp. Google wouldn’t have it this soon.

  6. ICallMasICM says:

    MM doesn’t seem to worried about a possible troll invasion.

  7. Andy Vance says:

    Publishing a press release is not exactly tantamount to digging up private information.

    Oh, please. How does the students’ stupidity excuse Malkin’s behavior? Would it be ok to run a pack of dumb college kids over for jaywalking? After all, they’ve put themselves out on a public street and sooner or later someone is bound to hit them, right?

    It defies common sense to think that it was the students’ intention to disseminate their phone numbers on a high-traffic blog known for hardball partisan politics. It therefore defies common sense to contend that Malkin’s purpose was anything but vindictive, unless one believes that she – an intelligent, experienced media operator – doesn’t know what she’s doing.

    You’re right – there is no equivalency between Malkin and the insane jackals now trying to run her and her family down. One might expect that she, a popular and purportedly respectable journalist, would be held to a higher standard.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Rather than illustrating the very kind of unacceptable escalation that’s being criticized, why don’t we just all agree that Michelle shouldn’t have posted the contact info and neither should the commenters?

  9. Anonymous Please says:

    “Several people blogging about this latest event point to this post by John Aravosis but it was an initial condemnation of Malkin�s posting of the student contact info. He does not retaliate in kind.”

    He did indeed post a link to her home address. Then after a few hours he quietly removed it.

  10. Jon says:

    That “anti KKK site” has had Michelle’s personal information up for a couple of years. So, like the press release, that information was available on the internet. That is why it was so easy to dig up. Also, Jesse Malkin sent out an email to the Malkin’s email list a couple of months back with their home address on it. Many liberal bloggers received this email, but CHOSE not to publish it.

    I’m not condoning the release of Michelle’s private information. However, it wasn’t as private as everyone has been lead to believe.

  11. James Joyner says:

    Anonymous: Did someone actually document that fact by keeping a screen cap or some such? I haven’t seen any evidence.

  12. Len says:

    Michelle Malkin? Is she someone important? Should we know who she is?

  13. Richard Davis says:

    I will tap dance on the windpipe of anyone that tries to harm Michelle Malkin or her family.

    All she has to do is say the word and an Army of folks like me will come runnin to her neighborhood.

    We will protect her the same way the Bikers protect the military families.

    GO ‘HEAD, MAKE MY DAY.

    Richard Davis
    Philadelphia, PA
    USN Ret

  14. Yeah, who is Richard thinking he has the right to defend people (including children) from physical harm, anyway.