NRO Outs Kos’ Armando

A substantial controversy is brewing in the blogosphere over National Review Online media columnist Stephen Spruiell’s revealing the identity of Armando, a previously anonymous contributor to DailyKos and other sites.

This quickly led to Armando’s announcement that he was likely giving up the blogging, presumably because of pressure from his employer. (Although, oddly, he has continued posting at Swords Crossed unabated.)

Spruiell followed up:

[M]y goal in writing about Armando’s work was not to “silence” him, as many have suggested. My post raised questions about potential conflicts of interest between his work and his blogging, and I fully expected him to address those questions — so much so that I was trying to anticipate his responses and prepare a rebuttal. The last thing I expected was his announcement that he was planning to quit blogging as a result of my post.

His announcement was so unexpected to me because everything I wrote was based on information that Armando himself had shared with other web sites — his full name, his work affiliation, and his role as a blogger at Daily Kos are all listed together on these sites. He also posted his picture on his bio at another high-profile liberal blog. Yet for some reason, many are claiming that until I published this information, Armando’s identity was a well-kept secret. That is simply false.

Armando’s identity, day job, and the fact that he blogged at Daily Kos is in fact on the program of events at a conference held at the Stanford Law School. I’m not sure which “high-profile liberal blog” Spruiell refers to; it’s not Huffington Post, I checked there. [Update: Spruiell emails that it’s TPM Cafe. The photo used? The same as on his law firm profile page. It’s a flattering pic, to be sure, but hardly the best in cloak and dagger tradecraft.]

The weblog of the Online Integrity Statement of Principles, of which I am a signatory, condemns the move in an unsigned post:

It is the consensus at OI that such information should remain private in the absence of a compelling reason for disclosure. That compelling reason appears to be absent here. OI asks that Mr Spruiell take down the relevant information in the spirit of graciousness and respect.

The Statement says, with respect to this issue:

Persons seeking anonymity or pseudonymity online should have their wishes in this regard respected as much as is reasonable. Exceptions include cases of criminal, misleading, or intentionally disruptive behavior.

Spruiell seems to be arguing that Armando’s failure to disclose potential conflicts between his day job and his online positions is misleading and therefore newsworthy.

Joshua Treviño, a co-founder of the Online Integrity project who was once himself an established pseudononymous blogger and who co-blogs with Armando at Swords Crossed, is quite ambivalent about the whole thing.

The end served by the accession to this fiction is the facilitation of anonymous and pseudonymous actors in the given space — in this case, the blogosphere. The communal benefits of this facilitation are obvious: actors who might be otherwise unable to participate can lend their voices; and for the actors themselves, there is some mitigation of personal consequence. The communal negatives are equally obvious: accountability and social inhibition often diminish in proportion with consequence. Respect for anonymity and pseudonymity is therefore mostly a calculation of whether the pros outweigh the cons.

Davinci, blogging at the site where Treviño established his Tacitus identity, writes, “That people have seen fit to look for his real persona and try and use his clients against him is sad. It will only make the divide in our country that much worse if tit for tat reprisals start to happen. The dialog even in disagreement is good for our country.”

John Cole is angry that Armando was outed but thinks he was ridiculously careless for someone trying to protect his privacy. Still, “What was done to him was wrong, considering his expressed desire for privacy and obvious attempts to maintain his anonymity . . . . Armando is the victim here, and I am really angry at NRO and the folks behind this.”

Greg Prince and Obsidian Wings’ von echoe Cole’s sentiments.

All refuse to link to Spruiell’s posts, presumably following the Statement‘s “enforcement” provision: “Violations of these principles should be met with a lack of positive publicity and traffic.” While often logical, that strikes me as silly in this case because one can’t talk about it rationally without referring to Spruiell and NRO by name and, incidentally, linking to Spruiell’s post explaining his actions which, in turn, links to the initial post.

Google Armando Daily Kos Leon Wolf, another of the Swords Crossed bloggers, saved me the effort of emailing Spruiell by doing it first and publishing the results. They’re rather illuminating. Most notably, if one does a Google search on “Armando Daily Kos” (omitting the quotation marks) the 4th result gives you his identity without even having to click through. It’s an entry in the wildly popular Wikipedia. That Armando maintained any level of anononymity is incredible.

Still, Wolf is right to point out the moral dilemmas involved here:

All of us could, of course, hide behind pseudonyms, but there is some value to be lent to a person who is willing to attach his name to his pontifications – that’s not reason to associate that person’s clients with his polemicism unless he’s failed to disclose a conflict of interest, in my book. The only reason I can imagine for Spruiell to have done this was to discredit Armando among liberals by associating him with Wal-Mart, which is a shameless tactic I will not condone. Further, out of respect for basic decency, the entire wikipedia kerfluffle which Spruiell takes careful note of should have spoken loud and clear that, while Armando’s identity might be available to anyone who does a half-diligent search, he doesn’t want his professional life (and especially not his clients) drug into the limelight to be whacked with a stick unnecessarily. Again, in the absence of a clear conflict of interest which Armando failed to disclose (and I’ve seen no evidence of this), mentioning the firm and the clients was nothing more than a political cheap shot.

That strikes me as the right set of questions to be asking. What was the transgression committed by Armando which outweighed the “basic decency” of protecting Armando’s privacy? According to Spruiell’s tipster:

During his time filling in for Kos as the “front page diarist” he wrote a number of pro-corporate articles, of course without disclosing that he is a corporate attorney promoting these same issues for his clients. For example, in this post he takes the pro-corporate position that modern anti-trust law is based on activist judges’ rulings and not as the law as written. He fails to mention that he recently represented Wal-Mart in an anti-trust capacity in Puerto Rico.

Now, clearly, the point here is not to smear Armando as “a liberal working for Wal-Mart” in order to harm his standing with the Left but rather that he violated a basic principle of journalistic disclosure. For example, I routinely disclose–on a per post basis–potential conflicts with even my wife’s employer if I’m aware of them. Still, one could scarcely maintain an anonymous identify and reveal one’s clients. (I’m not sure whether publically noting that one’s firm represents a client is even advisable from a legal ethics standpoint.) And the level of harm to the reader here is mighty small compared to the potential damage done to Armando’s career.

Ultimately, I believe Spruiell’s actions here were consistent with the ethical practices of the mainstream press but not those of the online community. Reporters violate people’s privacy all the time and have no compunction about ruining the lives of people, especially powerful and/or famous people, for relatively minor transgressions. On the Internet, where no one has to know you’re a dog, there is a rather high expectation of privacy.

As both Wolf and Treviño note, that has trade-offs. It allows very gifted, knowledgable people who would otherwise be unable to do so for personal and professional reasons to be public intellectuals. At the same time, it lowers personal accountability. Certainly, I’m a different blogger as “James Joyner” than I would be under a clever pseudonym such as “James.”

As an aside, one irony over this brouhaha is that the story on Armando is given second billing in a post on the Yearly Kos convention entitled “Kos Mania!” It’s something that I would almost surely have glossed over if I were visiting Spruiell’s sideblog. As usual, the outrage over an event magnifies the attention immeasurably.

UPDATE: Be sure to read the comments below; some excellent discussion is going on.

UPDATE (June 22): I’ve written quite a bit more in a follow-up post: “NRO Outs Kos’ Armando II

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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. Bithead says:

    Odd.

    Odd, how this compares to the case of Tim Russo, over in Northeast Ohio… the far-left nimbnut blogger who wanted all anonymous RIGHT wing bloggers to reveal themselves… and then once his own criminal past was revealed, shut down his blog.

  2. John Emerson says:

    Info can be put into Wikipedia by anyone, so whoever put it there was also outing Armando. It wasn’t his choice.

  3. lunacy says:

    I don’t know. Seems the guy outed himself. Diving through someones trash can or paying someone’s maid for inside info is one thing. But if you can get all your info through a search engine based on a blogger using his real and somewhat uncommon name then, well, I’m not especially sympathetic. In fact, it makes me wonder that he might have WANTED to be outed.

    Armando is like someone at a masked ball that repeatedly (and maybe deliberately) lets his mask slip and then squeals that he is recognized. He is an intelligent and educated man, isn’t he? Seems like he weighed out being egotistical and using his real name versus being anonymous and using a TRUE pseudonym. I mean, sh!t. He DIDN’T even use a pseudonym.

    And I’m not at all persuaded that an online journalist should be castigated for doing his job.

    That’s just my take.

    Lunacy (a REAL pseudonym)

  4. Buddy says:

    Searching simply for
    Armando Kos
    gets you his full name from an NPR transcript on the 4th page in google.

    A little further you get the majority report stuff, where he went on air using his full name, again. A little more digging and you get where he was posting on the Clark Campaign network with his full name, again.

    This isn’t rocket science folks. If you wanna remain anonymous, you don’t go on syndicated radio using your full name.

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    I have nothing against Armando. Or for, for that matter. It seems to me this is a tempest in a teapot.

    My following remarks are general in nature and not directed against Armando specifically.

    First, if professional decorum demands a particular public demeanor, pseudonymity is not the answer: you’re still obligated to maintain the demeanor in public. Second, if one’s employer has a policy against blogging, pseudonymity doesn’t solve that problem, either.

    Both of these cases are instances of deceit.

    I think that there are legitimate reasons for pseudonymity. For example, when the creative effect of your blog requires it, e.g. �The Manolo� or �Methuselah’s Daughter�. Or when you simply wouldn’t get a hearing without it, e.g. “George Elliot”.

    We have entered an era in which there is an extraordinary ability to collect and collate information and, consequently, real privacy is vanishing. This was predicted some 30 years ago by Roger Zelazny in his �Hangman� series of stories. The World Wide Web is an extremely large public square and, when you post a notice in it, don’t be surprised when people notice.

  6. Buddy says:

    Dave:

    I was just pondering that myself. I wonder if that not were the actual issue at hand here with Armando, i.e. perhaps his online persona is not compatable with the professional persona he wishes to present.

  7. Anderson says:

    Pretty clear consensus on left & right, it seems:

    (1) The guy who outed Armando is a jerk.

    (2) Armando was not working nearly hard enough to keep his identity a secret, particularly for so high-profile a blogger.

    I’m sure that anyone with too much free time could find out who “Anderson” really is. But who would give enough of a damn to try in the first place? And even so, I’ve maintained a better cover than Armando. (Like John Cole said: “That’s his REAL NAME???”)

  8. Steven Plunk says:

    The on line community will never reach full credibility as long as anonymity is used by contributors. The MSM stands behind what is published without hiding who does the writing.

    It may not be fair but it is what it is.

  9. McGehee says:

    As a practical matter, it’s simply not feasible anymore to become well known while operating under a pseudonym on the Internet, and be able to remain pseudonymous thereafter.

    And that goes double when the person in question is using his real name in any manner that can be connected to his online identity by those who don’t necessarily support his keeping his cover.

  10. Anderson says:

    The on line community will never reach full credibility as long as anonymity is used by contributors. The MSM stands behind what is published without hiding who does the writing.

    And without bothering to tell the truth, either.

    “The online community” is not a monolith. There’s a place for anonymity. Anonymous pamphlets, etc. have a long & often respectable history.

    If we were to focus on the merits of what’s said, rather than on the celebrity culture of who’s saying it, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

    The more I think about it, the more I think anonymity is irrelevant to credibility. If I blog under “X the Mysterious” and have smart, relevant things to say, that will be recognized (assuming anyone’s reading). If I spout arrant bullshit, that too will be recognized, whether or not anyone knows my name.

  11. Kathy K says:

    I’m in the consensus Anderson mentions.

    By the way, as I understand it, Armando did not do that wikepedia entry and has been trying to get it removed. OTOH – he hasn’t been very careful about protecting his anonymity in other ways.

    I do disagree with McGehee, though. I’d rather people didn’t try – but I bet they’d have a real hard time finding out who ‘Harry’ of Harry’s Place is. I host them, and even I don’t know. He gets other people to pay the bills on his behalf, for instance. All I know about him is that he says his name is NOT Harry. He’s anonymous.

  12. Bithead says:

    Ah, yes, the virtues of being anonymous, while supposedly fighting for ‘free speech’, which is the almost universal claim.

    Have they forgotten John Hancock and his like so quickly?

    Hancock didn’t sign the DOI in 50pt script because he was being an insufferable jerk. Nor was anyone else who signed that document with heir real name signing it as a mere matter of pride and hutzpah. Rather, they understood fully that part and parcel of ‘free speech’ is accept ing the consequences of that speech.

    As Limbaugh’s father wrote:

    What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the Crown? To each of you the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock, and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

    I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

    Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56, almost half — 24 — were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, 9 were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers and politicians.

    With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th century.

    Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so “that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward.” Ben Franklin wryly noted, “Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.” Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, “With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.”

    These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember: a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

    They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft-card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics, yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

    It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers (it was he, Francis Hopkinson, not Betsy Ross, who designed the United States flag).

    Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks:

    Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repose. If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American legislators of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens.
    Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.
    William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers’ faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, “but in no face was he able to discern real fear.” Stephen Hopkins, Ellery’s colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: “My hand trembles, but my heart does not.”

    Most glorious service
    Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

    Francis Lewis, New York delegate, saw his home plundered and his estates, in what is now Harlem, completely destroyed by British soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

    William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home, they found a devastated ruin.

    Phillips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

    Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

    John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

    Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

    Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton’s parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

    Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington’s appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

    George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

    Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

    John Morton, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were, “Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it (the signing) to have been the most glorious service that I rendered to my country.”

    William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

    Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

    Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward Jr. the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Fla., where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large land holdings and estates.

    Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson’s palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, “Why do you spare my home?” They replied, “Sir, out of respect to you.” Nelson cried, “Give me the cannon!” and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson’s sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson’s property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

    Lives, fortunes, honor
    Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create, is still intact.

    And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

    He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to the infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York harbor known as the hell ship “Jersey,” where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons’ lives if he would recant and come out for the king and parliament. The utter despair in this man’s heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: “No.”

    The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. “And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

    So the Kossakcks think they’ve suffered by having their names known? I submit the crybabies have suffered not at all by comparison.

    There is a price for free speech. That these morons are tring to dick it, is, to my thinking, very teling indeed.

    (And before anyone who doesn’t know me well starts, I have never made any secret of who I am.)

  13. Common Sense says:

    Bithead says on the signers of the Declaration: “they understood fully that part and parcel of â??free speechâ?? is accept ing the consequences of that speech.”

    Madison, Hamilton and Jay used a pseudonym when publishing the Federalist Papers. Are you claiming that the authors of our constitution didn’t understand free speech? Or that Thomas Paine didn’t when he wrote his famous Common Sense?

  14. Bithead says:

    Madison, Hamilton, and Jay were operating under threat of death from King George. Are you suggesting that the leftie nuts are operating under death threats from George Bush?

  15. First, Armando “outed” himself through such things as appearing by name on NPR, etc. There was no “outing,” as Spruell himself said.

    Second, let me say that I speak not as a conservative, but a real progressive who voted Green for president in 2004.

    As for the charges, first dropped in a comment on the Washington Note May 23 by an alleged troll from Kos, IMO, Armando stands guilty as charged of hypocrisy.

    From a progressive POV, he also stands guilty as charged of being a corporate shill.

    And, it’s FAR MORE than just Wal-Mart. First, Armando is a partner, not just a staff attorney, at McConnell Valdes. So, all the company’s clients are his, in a sense.

    And those clients include:
    1. Altria (nee Philip Morris)
    2. Multiple members of Big Pharma
    3. GE Capital

    That’s just the worst of the bad, for starters.

    Read more about it on my blog.

    NOTE: I got booted from Kos Friday after two successive diaries of mine commenting on this issue got deleted there. Iâ??ve done several posts on my blog related to this about the cult-like attitude of many Kossacks, which must be at least passively allowed by Markos himself and his right-hand Goebbels, Armando.

  16. Oh, it’s also my firm belief that Armando was not interested in protecting his anonymity as a blogger from some reason of blogging purity or ethics.

    Rather, I charge he was trying to protect his anonymity as a blogger to keep all his corporate legal accounts.

  17. Bithead says:

    So, in short, it’s precisely as I said it might place several days ago; one was sought here was insulation and protection from the consequences of his publicly stated opinions.

    Some freedom fighter.

    Which is precisely why I brought up the signers of the declaration.

  18. rumpole says:

    Whoa. There is a big difference between representing clients’ or an employer’s interests and approving of what they do. Does every person who wears NIKE (or sells them at foot locker) approve of child labor? Of course not.
    A lawyer’s not required to believe in his clients’ causes, he’s supposed to advocate its interests. The role of the Court is to judge. That’s what “rule of law” means–everywhere, it seems, but the true fever swamps.

  19. James Joyner says:

    rumpole: My understanding is that he was indeed advocating his clients’ positions without disclosing the he worked for them and thus had a conflict. That’s a violation of standard journalistic ethics, although a fairly minor one for an opinion columnist trying (although not particularly hard) to maintain anonymity.

    Conversely, if he were taking their money for acting as their advocates and yet actively undermining them in his spare time, I’d say that was undeniably unethical.

  20. Bithead says:

    A fairly minor one?
    (pause)
    (PA system clicking)
    Armstrong Williams, call your office, please.