Patterico (linked above as well as here) doesn't think L.A. Times writer Michael Hiltzik has committed a firing offense by responding to his own articles under pseudonyms, and that the embarrassment of public disclosure and the suspension of his Golden State blog is sufficient.
I strongly disagree.
Strike No. One: Hugh Hewitt has painstakingly compared Hiltzik's behavior against the Times' Code of Ethics, and Hiltzik comes up more than short.
One portion of the code cited by Hugh: "Fabrication of any type is unacceptable. We do not create composite characters. We do not use pseudonyms." Unless a writer is creating composite characters and pseudonyms for himself rather than a subject of an article?
Strike No. Two: One of Hiltzik's regular targets, Catherine Seipp, shares interesting background at National Review Online. Seipp recounts another disturbing incident in Hiltzik's long career with the Times: 12 years ago Hiltzik was transferred out of his Moscow correspondent's job for the Times after it was discovered he'd hacked into his colleagues' email accounts.
My opinion: Two strikes and you're out.
I can't imagine why the Times, which is struggling to stay afloat in more ways than one, would retain the services of someone who has proven on multiple occasions to have such a juvenile temperament and poor judgment, and that's phrasing it charitably.
Based on Hiltzik's questionable ethical history, the L.A. Times would also be wise to start examining Hiltzik's past writings with a fine-toothed comb.
Update: Here's a piece from Independent Sources corroborating Cathy Seipp's account of Hiltzik's Moscow history. (Hat tip: Chris from Victoria, BC via Patterico's Comments section.)
Further Update: Cathy Seipp reports on her blog today that the Times is, indeed, investigating Hiltzik's work for "other signs of dishonesty."
Friday Night Update: Patterico reports that the Hiltzik story is moving into more mainstream press outlets (such as The San Francisco Chronicle) thanks to the Associated Press. It doesn't appear this story will be going away in the immediate future.