08 July 2010

Doctoring Reputations

A week or two ago, Jim McLennan de-linked this blog from his sidebar over at azsnakepit. As a practical matter (ie traffic), it's meant nothing. Diamondhacks has actually received more daily referrals from Jim's site since the uncoupling, strange as that may sound. But as a matter of principle, it's revealing and disappointing.

I've yet to receive even a private explanation, although Jim has my email box and we've cross referenced each others' sites for about five years. I assume it has to do with bitterness over the relative ease with which Diamondhacks moderated a controversial poster, who Jim evidently feels compelled to categorically suppress and punish, not only at his place, but here.

That assessment might be McLennan's cue to intentionally confuse standards of journalism and decency with his relative rhetorical impotence and highly selective patterns of censorship. Galling enough, were it not for another recent incident that almost went unnoticed, as the Valley (and indeed, the Western world) feverishly documented the tumble and crash of his favored franchise stewards.

Early on June 29, Jim posted a fanshot linking to ugly background info on one of the Dbacks' most prominent FSN sponsors. Dr Michael Brown of The Brown Hand Center has heavily advertised on every 2010 broadcast, but for some reason, on June 29th, three months into the season, Jim decided to research and report on the doctor's personal history.

I endured the tedium of scouring snakepit's thousand comment gameday thread from the previous night, in search of a topical comment or two on Dr Brown, that might have plausibly triggered Jim's somewhat offbeat fanshot the following morning. I found nothing. However, potential triggers were discovered that night, at an entirely different web address.

On azcentral.com's June 28 postgame wrap, there's a subthread about Dr Brown you can find on page two of comments, towards the bottom of the page. If you expand all the embedded remarks, you'll see a detailed entry, timestamped at 9:33pm on June 28:

it's a north phoenix hand surgery center that advertises heavily on Dbacks gamecasts. FSN even airs a "Good Hands Play of the Day", sponsored by the center. i was only being half facetious about severing ties from it however. From what I've read online, Dr Brown lost his medical license in Texas and is/was something of a coke fiend and spousal abuser. I dont know that first hand, but anyone can google the center and Dr michael brown and examine the alleged history themselves. The Dbacks obviously have bigger issues right now, but he seems like a potentially problematic sponsor for a franchise touting good clean family fun, etc

Could this be the bit that prompted Jim to research the good doctor a mere hours later? You be the judge, because there's no citation to azcentral or anyone else on Jim's fanshot. No hat tip. Nothing. This "emerging truth", to use Jim's words, is nakedly presented on snakepit as the lone investigative inspiration of Jim McLennan.

Which is awkwardly funny for two reasons beyond the obvious. One, Jim regularly sneers at azcentral as a cesspool of misinformed miscreants barely worthy of his attention, yet now it appears they're sourcing "his" research. Secondly, of course, the plot thickens because I'm the one who gave him the lead.

Look, it's not like he stole a thesis or anything. I didnt even link to the original backdated stories from Texas, partly because links dont take well on azcentral's platform. But there's an unwritten rule, especially among bloggers who've been around a while and cover the same topics, to acknowledge secondary research that results in leads of this nature.

The stuff about being an abuser and coke fiend were not common knowledge among Dback fans, and that information, no matter how old in Houston, is something of a story or "news" in Phoenix. I dont mind Jim running with it in the least, but do believe a simple acknowledgement was warranted, since I found all this stuff on the net a week prior and shared it with the azcentral community, which presumably included Jim that night. Instead, he's casually pretending he's "broken the news" over at azsnakepit.

Dont believe it? Check out the comments underneath Jim's fanshot. Here's what one grateful reader gushes, after reading Jim's blurb on Dr Brown:

That is why appreciate this wonderful website called the AZ Snakepit... Keep up the great investigative work....

That comment has been sitting there more than a week. To my mind, that's the part that really speaks to Jim's character, more than any actions I outlined preceding it. Nothing above it is all that terrible. I could even see myself getting caught in a similar circumstance. But you have to ask yourself, what kind of blogger would allow himself to be stroked by readers (ie 'great investigative work'), for something he essentially lifted from azcentral? And from a competing blogger, no less. Ultimately, you have to ask what kind of a person would do that?

Not just in a meanspirited sense. As stated, no great amount of research was performed and I dont feel especially abused. It's just a simple lead. But as a matter of principle, it's discouraging that the steward of a top Dbacks site would continue to cultivate such a false and aggrandizing impression of himself.

Jim's worked hard at his blogging. He's put together some quality pieces. Is it worth risking that and one's reputation, just to fool a handful of readers into thinking you "discovered" this story?

Apparently Jim thinks it is.

Maybe he thought since he de-linked my site from his readers, that he de-linked prevailing courtesies over actual content as well? Or maybe he decided that once a guest here rather harshly disparaged his website, calling it a fagpit and idiotpit, that he somehow "deserved" credit for a local story brought to light by someone else's curiosity?

This isnt brain surgery, or hand surgery for that matter, but as a leading, well connected cog in the local blogging community, Jim evidently assumed he could skate away with one more minor abuse in his growing family of transgressions, tweaking the truth and not so subtlely, doctoring his reputation.


Anonymous said...

You are going to upset the almighty Jim with this. Great post and it's nothing but the truth. Jim is an IDIOT.

Anonymous said...

Hacks I think you should start doing gameday threads like our friend mc dummy. We can get 900 posts of nothing here as well.