Briefly Noted

An Apology to Our Readers

After an investigation, The New Republic has determined that the comments in our Talkback section defending Lee Siegel’s articles and blog under the username “sprezzatura” were produced with Siegel’s participation. We deeply regret misleading our readers. Lee Siegel’s blog will no longer be published by TNR, and he has been suspended from writing for the magazine.

Franklin Foer
Editor, The New Republic

I always liked Lee Siegel, even when he popped a spring and started writing zany nonsense about the fascistic left-blogosphere. And sock-puppetry is bad and embarrassing, but on the scale of human folly, it must rate somewhere near swiping parking spots or soaping postage stamps — a meniality for which one’s own conscience ought to be the thing most permanently troubled.

Then again, hubris.

More soon, p’raps. Interesting development.


Comments: 25


So, you guys wanna see what we dug up at Daily Kos? Huh? Do ya? Sure ya do!

Here are actual posts from Siegel’s sockpuppet:

From a discussion of Siegel’s attack on Jon Stewart:

“The insults. The insecurity. “Maybe our taste is bad! Maybe Stewart really isn’t funny! Who do we turn to for authoritative guidance?” Pathetic, just pathetic. Did I really see someone call Siegel “Seagull?” So playground. And Siegel said Stewart was so playground. Quod erat demonstrandum. You really need Jon Stewart to expose Bush and Cheney’s lies? You can’t figure that out from reading the newpaper? Remember 2004? Remember everyone saying that Stewart would incite drove of young people–and his fans of all ages–to the polls? I guess all that gritty truthtelling, unavailable from other sources, just didn’t do the trick. You’re all a bunch of sad, manipulable, morons, with the self-esteem of ninth-graders. I might cancel my subscription to the New Republic not because of the magazine, but because of the cases of stunted emotional and intellectual growth who read it.”

Same thread:

“You’re a critic? You’re a blogista loser. And a pretentious joke.”

And another one:

“How angry people get when a powerful critic says he doesn’t like their favorite show! Like little babies. Such fragile egos. Siegel accuses Stewart of a “pandering puerility” and he gets an onslaught of puerile responses from the insecure herd of independent minds. I’m well within Stewart’s target group, and I think he’s about as funny as a wet towel in a locker room. Siegel is brave, brilliant, and wittier than Stewart will ever be. Take that, you bunch of immature, abusive sheep.”

Tee hee.


It is just CRAZY. I mean it is so over the top.


Lee Siegel is a seriously weird dude. Like, you and your friends are out drinking, and another friend arrives with this Lee Siegel dude, and after talking for 10 minutes with them, said friend and said Lee Siegel go to get their second round and you just leave the bar as quick as you can, weird.


I also like how he refers to himself as a “powerful critic.”

“I’m Homer Simpson, the most powerful food critic in the world! And I’ll never get my comeupance! You hear me? No comeupance!”


Here’s my favorite:

“If I had to guess, you’re this person Mark Greif himself. Or someone in his circle. Every young write [sic] in NYC has it in for poor Siegel it seems. They all write like middle-aged hacks. He has the fire and guts of a young man (I assume he’s middle-aged himself, or somewhere near there.) Who am I? Someone who knows who you are.”

His sock puppet accused someone else of sock puppetry. That’s cojones, man.


[…] I agree with Gavin that sock-puppetry – even of this exceptionally wankerish variety – is a really lame thing to bust somebody over. But, in the spirit of TNR’s new-found commitment to 100% authenticity in electronic communication, can we expect some action on Jason Zengerle’s made-up emails? Was his top-secret source named “sprezzatura”, by any chance? […]


He has the fire and guts of a young man! He has fire in his belly! But it will take more than belly fire to be another Barishnikov!


I tried to care; I really did. But sock-puppetry is so very silly; plus I got distracted by the soaping postage stamps thing. Why would you do that?


Oh, whoever you’re writing to just washes the soap off and the cancellation goes with it. They soap the stamp again and use it to write you back, and so on ad infinitum.


Put the address your sending to in the return, your address in the sender, then don’t put a stamp on it!


Leave Siegel alone! There are few writers out there with his passion, his drive and skills. Few men could write like he writes, bake brownies, be the MOST POWER literary figure of this or the last century (Perhaps in all of recored history!
) or be the secret longing of Uma Thurman!

You are all jealous of his mad writing skills!

You blogonazi make me SICK!


bet he’s got hairy toes too.


Leave Siegel alone! etc.

Okay, that was funny.


This word:



He’ll be back. The testicles make millions of sprezzatura every day.


Those samples from BarretBrown and Scott Lemieux (over at “LG&M”) were some scary stuff. Lee Siegel rhapsodizes over the greatness of Lee Siegel with the kind of devotion that hasn’t been seen since Franz Liebkind stood up for Hitler. “Lee Siegel is smarter than Ezra Klein! Lee Siegel is braver than Ezra Klein! Lee Siegel is a better painter than Ezra Klein! He can paint an entire apartment in one afternoon: TWO coats!”


GoatBoy is by far and hands down the most erudite, charming and whipcrack-smart raconteur in all of blogfascistan! Any posting below who might chance to disagree are clearly envious of his lustrous head of hair and rugged, manly musk. Also he has developed a cure for vitiligo and can make it rain whenever he wants it to.


[…] Hi, I’m H.E. Pennypacker. I’m a wealthy American industrialist uh, looking to open a silver mine in the mountains of Peru. « Briefly Noted Bless their hearts » Sep2 […]


Am I the only one who envisions Lee Siegel ending his days in a large, ramshackle house, decked out in an ornate turban and robe and reviewing his own articles all day?


The sock puppeting is just a convenient excuse, it seems. Siegel implied that a prominent academic expert on pedophilia was a pedophile. Dunno how much that’s gonna cost in Singer bux, but I’ll bet it’s a lot.

Boy, this TNR meltdown is really accelerating, isn’t it? Wonder if they’ll ever cop to the whole making up emails thing. Nah, prolly not. Overlord Kos must be laughing his ass off. I know I am.


Siegel implied that a prominent academic expert on pedophilia was a pedophile.

Yeah, anybody who’s actually taken the time to, you know, actually read Erotic Innocence would have a really hard time making that case with a straight face. Hint: your hysteria in making the accusation is in part what the damn book is about.

Hilariously clueless.


I really think it is not the sockery, but the fact that he hates his readers so much. That’s disdain you can bottle and sell.


Yeah, it’s penny ante shit but would I be wasting my time if I made him one of my assclowns of the week?


bet he’s got hairy toes too.

[weeps silently in the corner]


[…] Another interesting aspect is just how muted the swarm has been. Possible reasons include the fact that Siegel did himself in, as well as the possibility that Greenwald’s allies are unwilling to make themselves hypocrites. A typical half-hearted criticism comes from Gavin M. at Sadly, No!: [S]ock-puppetry is bad and embarrassing, but on the scale of human folly, it must rate somewhere near swiping parking spots or soaping postage stamps — a meniality for which one’s own conscience ought to be the thing most permanently troubled. […]


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