Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Who wrote the WSJ's "vendetta of amateurs" piece?

I recently posted about an unsigned editorial in the Feb. 14 Wall Street Journal, which essentially defended Eason Jordan against the "vendettas of amateurs" (that is, bloggers). The piece has been roundly criticized by such as the Washington Times, the National Review and others.

As Jim Geraghty has pointed out, Hugh Hewitt's producer was led to believe that the unsigned WSJ piece was written by Bret Stephens. But Hewitt then corrected the record:
I have been informed that my producer's calls with various people at the Wall Street Journal yesterday were not intended to give the impression that Bret Stephens wrote yesterday's editorial.
So that leaves the question open: If Stephens did not write the piece, who did?

My guess is James Taranto.

[Disclosure: While I do not know Taranto, I read his column regularly. I have been acknowledged (under my non-blog name) in his Best of the Web quite a few times. And he once edited the online version of a WSJ op-ed piece to insert a link to my blog, for which I am grateful. We tail-end bloggers need all the help we can get.]

Why do I think Taranto wrote the piece?
  1. It is entitled "The Jordan Kerfuffle," and as regular readers of Taranto know, kerfuffle is his favorite word. (For evidence see last item here. Or here or here. Or the eighth item here or here.) He also particularly likes kerfuffle in headlines. (Search for "best headline ever" here and here.)
  2. Taranto linked prominently to the piece in his Feb. 14 BOTW column.
  3. The tone of the piece is similar to the tone of Bret Stephens' (Feb. 10) piece on the topic. And Taranto has written (also on Feb. 14) that he defers to Stephens' expertise on the topic. So if Stephens didn't write it, Taranto may have.
  4. The tone of the piece is not dissimilar to Taranto's tone in disussing discussing the topic on Feb. 15.
  5. One other possible writer, John Fund, seems not to have written it. As one Edward Tabakin notes in a letter published on Hewitt's blog, Fund seems to distance himself from the most egregious parts of the editorial.
All of the above evidence is admittedly circumstancial circumstantial. Is it enough to convict?

Note: Tip of the hat to Jim Geraghty who alerted me to Hewitt's post, and who took the time to send me an update when Hewitt updated his post. Garaghty is a big-time blogger as well as print writer who does not know me from Adam. Always nice when a big name treats a tail-ender with respect.

Update: See related post here.