It's What You Do, Not Who You Are

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post critical of the Smugtown Beacon. Philip at Stop the Cap wrote a takedown of the same post. I contacted the publisher of the Beacon to see if he had a response to either of us, but he refused to engage on the issue on the grounds that I'm an anonymous blogger.

Smugtown's position on anonymity is detailed in this post by Aaron Wicks. Wicks says that "we find most blogs (the anonymous ones, at least) to be accountable to no one", and that "we always strive to be as blunt and honest about what we observe and conclude". Wicks argues in that post that Smugtown is more trustworthy because it's possible to contact the authors of the post in real life. He says that efforts of anonymous bloggers are "akin to a whispering campaign by Klan members or Nazis".

I disagree, but instead of giving an abstract argument, I'll use a couple of Wicks' posts from the Beacon to illustrate that, despite using his real name, he's been less than transparent with his readers. Begin with this Wicks post, titled "As Summer Approaches, The Grassroots Grow ... Angrier". Wicks says that he has a "personal bias toward more political competition rather than less" and warns that "it does appear that there is objective evidence that the leadership of the Democratic party in Rochester is in for a bumpy ride over the next several weeks."

In a post this month, Wicks' prediction of a bumpy ride seems to have come true. Titled "With Friends Like These ... Dems Implode in LD21", the post details a primary challenge filed by Jan Bowers in Monroe County LD-21. Wicks makes fun of Democratic leadership for having to scramble to get some petitions filled. He ends his post on this note:

The good news? Someone who is willing to work hard and who has a handful of solid supporters can still compete with an established political party. Competition is a wonderful thing in a democracy. Democrats in LD21 learnt this recently (and may yet learn more such lessons).

Wicks is clearly trying to establish a narrative of a grassroots Democratic uprising in Rochester, and his posts make it sound like he was simply a witness to these events. The truth of the matter is that Wicks was a participant in the LD-21 petition drive, and it wasn't a Democratic uprising. According to City Newspaper, "There's one aspect of Janice Bowers' candidacy and campaign that Democrats have been quick to draw attention to: the majority of her petitions were passed by Republican operatives." According to Moonbat over Monroe, Wicks himself circulated petitions for Jan Bowers in LD-21. I contacted John Locke, who writes Moonbat, to confirm his story. Though he's clearly a partisan, he seems to get his facts straight, and he confirms that he saw those petitions himself.

None of this was disclosed by Wicks in his posts. In an earlier post on the site, Wicks does reveal that he worked for Jan Bowers' husband on a 2007 campaign, but there's no mention of his earlier relationship with the Bowers in his current work.

If I started reading the Smugtown Beacon in June and trusted that Aaron Wicks to give me the facts on the Democratic primaries, I'd have been completely misled. I'd have mistaken what appears to be an effort by Wicks and the Republicans to embarrass the MCDC for a real grassroots uprising.

So what does it matter if I know Wicks' real name and bio if he decides to mislead me? That's my point on anonymity.

(By the way, anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows that I have a low opinion of the MCDC, so this has nothing to do with the politics in LD-21. )


If I may be so bold as to point out a flaw in his logic, what good does it do to be able to contact the author when the author refuses to engage in a discussion of the issue at hand?

The problem is that I'm an anonymous blogger, and therefore either a Klan member or Nazi, so what I say doesn't count. If I had told him my real name, my arguments would have magically changed into points worth taking into account.

How many times have you been on TV? How anonymous are you? Sounds like somebody just doesn't want to face criticism.

A lot of times I'm not as anonymous as I would like, that's for sure. :)

I am not anonymous.

I pointed that out to the Smugtown publisher but he ignored that fact.