The Blogger and the Damage Done

Ed Whelan realizes the error of his ways:

On reflection, I now realize that, completely apart from any debate over our respective rights and completely apart from our competing views on the merits of pseudonymous blogging, I have been uncharitable in my conduct towards the blogger who has used the pseudonym Publius. Earlier this evening, I sent him an e-mail setting forth my apology for my uncharitable conduct. As I stated in that e-mail, I realize that, unfortunately, it is impossible for me to undo my ill-considered disclosure of his identity.  For that reason, I recognize that Publius may understandably regard my apology as inadequate.

Whelan’s a bright fellow who has been trained in both analytical reasoning and (one presumes, given his employer) ethics.  It’s a shame that he didn’t think this one through before posting.

The disclosure created one of the bigger blogospheric firestorm I’ve seen in quite some time, with a near-universal consensus among bloggers of all political stripes that what Whelan had done was wrong.  Whether the arguments put forth therein swayed him or whether something else is at work, I haven’t a clue.   I’ll take him at his word that his contrition is genuine, if belated.

UPDATE: Publius graciously accepts.

I know it was not an easy thing to do, and it is of course accepted.  I therefore consider the matter done, and don’t intend on writing about it anymore.

Barring extraordinary developments, ditto.

Photo by Flickr user Joe Penniston under Creative Commons license.

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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. Maybe the National Review came down hard on this guy’s ass. Then that magazine has had such low standards of late, Whelan’s misconduct and immaturity fit right in at NRO.

  2. Conservative Blogger Ed Whelan Apologizes To “Outed” Longtime Anonymous Blogger Publius…

    National Review conservative blogger Ed Whelan has apologized to “outing” the identity of an anonymous blogger who had criticized him and his posts — bringing an end to a mini-firestorm that swept across the “blogosphere” …

  3. Eric Florack says:

    I’m disgusted. It’s my considered opinion he was not in the wrong and had nothing to apologize for, and indeed treated “Publius” far too gently, if anything. But he’s now given the left what they wanted; he’s sounded full retreat.

    The only lesson being taught here in the end, is that if a liberal screams loud enough, everyone else falls over, including people who should have far more courage. Like, we didn’t know that already, right?

  4. Brett says:

    Good for Whelan. That was a decent thing to do, when you consider that his original motive for revealing the identity amounted to feeling spiteful in a war of words.

  5. Steve Plunk says:

    I cannot feel sympathy for anonymous bloggers who are exposed. A man should stand behind his words with courage and conviction.

  6. Janis Gore says:

    Big Tent Democrat wrote an interesting note at Anonymous Liberal’s site:

    It is certainly to Ed’s credit (strangely enough I am friendly with him despite having had raging arguments with him on and offline. This action was clearly out of character for him imo) that he apologized.

  7. […] Liberal, Winds of Change.NET, Balloon Juice, Le·gal In·sur·rec· tion, Washington Monthly, Outside The Beltway, The Daily Dish, Macsmind, Lean Left, Bloggasm, The American Scene, Southern Appeal, And So it Goes […]

  8. Janis Gore says:

    Jack Dunphy, pseudonymous writer for the National Review, has a post up at The Corner.

  9. Furhead says:

    I cannot feel sympathy for anonymous bloggers who are exposed. A man should stand behind his words with courage and conviction.

    For example, when ratting out a gangster.

    Not everything is black and white.

  10. Eric Florack says:

    there is no such thing, my freind, as ‘shades of grey”… no ‘grey areas’. There is only black and white. If you think you’re seeing grey what you’re really seeing is black and white spots, which are very small, and you need to get closer to your subject to know it’s true nature. ‘Grey areas’ is the lazy man’s excuse. General statements like yours don’t require or withstand close examination.

    So, into the small spots. In the situation you’re describing, fine.

    But how does that compare, to the situation here? Are you suggesting this is one such time where Blevans was hiding from gangsters? That the right is a bunch of gangsters, and that Whalen writes for them?

    You get the pont, I’m sure.

  11. Tano says:

    Whelan still comes off as an arrogant SOB.
    The problem with his behavior was not that it wasn’t “charitable”. The problem was that it was not decent.

    Charity is behavior which one has no compulsion to perform – one acts charitably only because one wants to, there is no obligation.

    Decency however, is an expectation that we have regarding the behavior of all responsible adults. There is an obligation to decency in a civilized society – maybe not a legal obligation, but certainly an ethical one.

    Whelan’s behavior violated norms of decency, and that is what his apology should have owned up to.

  12. Eric Florack says:

    The problem with his behavior was not that it wasn’t “charitable”. The problem was that it was not decent.

    You mean he actually had the audacity to return in kind what he got from his once anonymous attacker?

    (Gasp!) Oh, dear. can’t have that, particularly since he’s not a leftist. Excuse me Tano… but you show all the signs of being a team player.

  13. Matt says:

    If you think you’re seeing grey what you’re really seeing is black and white spots, which are very small, and you need to get closer to your subject to know it’s true nature.

    I propose that you are correct. The problem though is that due to our current state of existence facts can be subjective. Our inability to confirm facts beyond a doubt results in a lot of grey in our life 😛

  14. Eric Florack says:

    Of course it’s subjective… that’;s the very point of the thing, man… Some things just require more study than others.

  15. Deuce Geary says:

    Am I the only one impressed by James’ masterful and subtle choice of illustration for this post? Or maybe I’m just the only one commenting who plays Sorry! with his 7-year-old?

  16. Janis Gore says:

    I noticed that. The pieces in my family’s set back in the early 70’s (or thereabouts) were boring and opaque.

  17. Matt says:

    See this is what separates you from most people. You believe that you always have all the facts where as most people KNOW they don’t always have all the facts (thus a lot of grey). This is why you can veer off into crazy land while in the middle of what was an intelligent post..