The Playgoer: Lee Siegel

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Lee Siegel

Arts blogger Lee Siegel is in trouble. This statement now comes up whenever you try to go his culture blog on the New Republic website:

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

Bloggers beware...

UPDATE (9/8) NYT followed up on Sept. 6. (Hat tip: Teachout, who comments.)


parabasis said...


I think depicting Lee Siegel as simply an "Arts Blogger" doesn't really tell the whole story. At all. After a writer at The New Republican attributed a completely ficticious e-mail to a lefty blogger, Lee Siegel attempted to defend TNR by
(A) coining the term blogofascist
(B) leveling several smear attacks at various prominent lefty bloggers, particularly Ezra Klein

When people wrote in to argue against him, Siegel defended himself (and said some really hilarious things, debasing amongst other things Jon Stewart, and elevating...well... Lee Siegel) under a pseudonym.

And let us not forget that Lee Siegel also wrote an essay explaining (at great length and detail) his regret at not fucking Uma Thurman when he was her creepy tutor and she was 16.

Frankly, I'd rather he not be lumped in with the rest of his arts bloggers. Gives us a bad name.

(also, was he really even an arts blogger?)

Anonymous said...

He was, indeed, blogging about visual arts in a fancy blog -- but I think it was for Slate. AND he was writing about books in some special post at The Nation. AND writing for New Republic. He's a decent writer and all, but I never understood why he got so many positions -- he's not THAT great and there are lots of good writers out there without a regular platform with fresher ideas. I think he was so successful because he's one of those straight white guys who puffs his chest out and says he's not afraid to stick up for oh, boo-hoo, the ever-maligned straight white guys. Hence his despicable Uma Thurman comment, along with many many sexist remarks; his vicious attack on Angels in America as too homosexual for anyone's good; his attacks on Black culture; etc. etc. Editors who hired him are straight white guys who may be nicer and more decent than Siegel, but maybe liked being a little naughty or got their own rocks off a little by giving him a platform and letting him say the stuff they wouldn't dare say themselves -- and it was easy enough to justify because he is knowledgeable and smart and a good writer. Just a theory -- because I sure don't know why else he has had so many venues handed to him. There's always been a whiff of bad faith about his work, imho, so this fiasco does not surprise me in the least.

Though I am posting anonymously (personal reasons, sorry -- I run in some of the same circles as Siegel) I can assure you that I am not he (nor anyone he has maligned in his work, as far as I know, nor certainly not anyone he has written about wanting to have fucked, unless he has some latent tendencies about which even he is unaware.) ;)

Anonymous said...

Had Uma cleared the age of consent?

Playgoer said...

Thanks, Isaac, for filling in the rest of the story, and to the others for further context. (I do hope this box does not become an Uma free for all, though!)

Clarification: "Arts blogger" or not, his gig at New was clearly "culture". Previously, for Slate he wrote on a lot of theatre-related subject, including the history of Method acting.

I never read him religiously, but did bookmark the relatively new blog. (I think it was the anti-Jon Stewart thing that turned me off.)

So, all the negative comments here I find myself nodding at. However--I have to admit I don't find making up reader comments a crime on the level of, say, Jayson Blair. Blogging is still an emerging set of rules, a liminal area between journalism and commentary, fact and fiction. Are the comments of his fictional alter ego more or less valid/interesting for being his own?

Dishonest? Sure. And--yes, for the record--I hide behind my nom de blog and no other names. But somehow I'm not so offended.

Who was the other blogger recently who got caught doing the same thing?

Anonymous said...

The Playgoer Writes:

Who was the other blogger recently who got caught doing the same thing?

You might be thinking of Glenn Greenwald. He's the most recent case. The most notorious is of course John Lott aka "Mary Rosh".

Anonymous said...

Seems that if Siegel DELIBERATELY MISREPRESENTED HIMSELF - ie HE LIED -- that is ethically troubling, no matter what kind of platform he's writing for (msm or blogging.) Sure, not as bad as Jayson Blair, but is that the measure? Lying is lying and that is indefensible.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere...someplace a turkey has
to lean against the fence in order
to gobble. But I don't where or
the place. Perhaps you can tell me?
Perhaps you could be the son of
that old friend of octo-
genarian as myself...who together
walked from Montparnasse to Pigale
to see a show in Paris. So long ago
....yes, so long ago; where our
youth ran out the back door, and is
now waving from the last corner.
Is he your father?
Tony Jackovich

the_jokester said...

Hello from the future.

Playgoer said...

Um, Mr. Siegel I presume?