In a statement by e-mail, Mr. Siegel said, "I'm sorry about my prank, which was certainly not designed to harm a magazine that has been my happy intellectual home for many years."
So there's Siegel's spin for you. Using an alias to pump himself up as a misunderstood genius beset by a swarm of gnat-like blogofascists? Meh, all that was just a little "prank" -- a momentary, giggle-worthy indiscretion, akin to a college student dropping water balloons on hapless classmates below, then slamming the dorm window before they could see the perpetrator's face. What's the big fuss, right?
More after the jump...
Franklin Foer, the New Republic's editor, said in an interview that he first became aware of the accusations against Mr. Siegel on Thursday afternoon, after a colleague noticed a comment in the Talkback section of Mr. Siegel's blog that accused him of using the alias "sprezzatura" to defend his articles and assail his critics.
That comment, posted by a reader named "jhschwartz" on Aug. 27, said that "sprezzatura appears only to weigh in on TNR forums to admonish and taunt posters who dislike Lee Siegel" before concluding, "I would say with 99% confidence that `sprezzatura' is a Siegel alias."
"We launched an investigation," Mr. Foer said. He added that he was confident that sprezzatura's posts were written with Mr. Siegel's "full cooperation," but declined to say whether the alias was used by Mr. Siegel himself because the affair was still under investigation. "As soon as the facts of the case became clear to me on Friday, we closed down the blog and made an announcement."
The article also contains the revelation that no editor was assigned to review Siegel's pieces before they hit the web. So much for the checks and balances of the mainstream media:
Mr. Foer said that while he liked to see blog posts before they were published, Mr. Siegel did not have an editor assigned to his blog entries.
Ezra Klein also gets in a few licks. Let the schadenfreude rage on...