“On the Media” had The New Republic‘s Lee Siegel on this week, talking about how awful the hoi polloi are. My letter to them:
Perhaps it might have been a good idea to have someone other than Lee Siegel commenting on himself, although that is certainly his favorite subject.
Siegel’s “Sprezzatura” was hardly bolstering his argument with witty, erudite lines. As TimesOnline columnist Ben MacIntyre wrote about the episode:
Last year, a commentator calling himself “Sprezzatura” on the discussion board of The New Republic lavished suspicious praise on the magazine’s culture critic, Lee Siegel. “Siegel is brave, brilliant…Siegel is my hero,” wrote Sprezzatura who turned out, inevitably, to be Siegel.
Rather than argue his point honestly, with judgment and wit, Siegel used his pseudonym to create the illusion of a sycophantic booster. It was that aspect of Sprezzatura that made people suspect it was Siegel, something that was finally confirmed not by people in basements poring over his text but by an internal investigation at The New Republic.
What’s truly sad is that here is a man with a regular column at what at least used to be a nationally-respected magazine, who’s well-connected enough even after being exposed as a fraud to get a book deal (and to be considered as an expert on OTM) who felt the need to further extend his ability to voice his opinions by assuming (at least one) fictitious, fawning character. Yet he still has to lie about what actually happened during his moment in the black light.
Here’s another fine comment from Sprezzatura, as chronicled by Ezra Klein at The American Prospect:
I’m a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I’m an editor at a magazine in NYC and he’s written for me too.) I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their twenties and early thirties. There’s this awful suck-up named Ezra Klein–his “writing” is sweaty with panting obsequious ambition–who keeps distorting everything Siegel writes–the only way this no-talent can get him. And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can’t. Maybe if they’d let themselves go and write truthfully, they’d get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.
I’m sooo glad OTM gave the writer of such delicate, precise insights the opportunity to spread his story without any kind of perspective.
A little rundown of the event as it took place…