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The guy Jeff Pearlman called responds

Jan 24, 2011, 9:31 AM EST

Internet Tough

You’ll recall the thing on Friday afternoon in which Jeff Pearlman wrote a column at CNN about confronting “online haters” who have made Pearlman and other online writers “targets for abuse,” aided by the anonymity of the Internet. One of the guys Pearlman tracked down and called was Andrew Tworischuk. Yesterday Andrew gave his side of the story. I don’t endorse a lot of what Andrew says — like Pearlman, I agree that the lack of civility on the Internet is not cool — but I found this part of it rather interesting:

A few weeks later, [Pearlman’s] article comes out. It’s not bad (and not as nasty as I expected) but it’s of course not exactly a full portrayal of what happened. First of all, both me and Matt’s twitter names are our full names. I have an extremely uncommon last name so all he had to do was plug it into yellow pages. It wasn’t hardcore undercover detective work like he made it out to be. Secondly, the article makes it sound like I was harassing him. I said something dumb in passing and when challenged didn’t back down. It wasn’t like I was inundating him with hate mail.

Having read this and having gone back and checked out Pearlman’s blog posts from the relevant period, I do think that Pearlman is skewing things a bit in his CNN post.  Anonymity may or may not be a problem on the Internet, but the guys he took issue with were not at all anonymous.  And at least in Andrew’s case, he wasn’t even bothering Pearlman over at his blog. He was merely tweeting something about him. Pearlman had to search for his own name in order to find the the stuff with which he took issue. Andrew wasn’t seeking Pearlman out and attacking him.  Maybe he wasn’t polite, but I suspect that if anyone Googles themselves they’ll find that people are saying bad things about them.  Tracking down and confronting such people, however, is not the kind of thing that a confident and healthy person should spend a lot of time doing.

This just ties back in with my observations from Friday. There may or may not be a problem with the way people interact on the Internet, but to the extent there is, it’s not a function of anonymity and the rude nature of the medium of blogging in and of itself.  Immediacy has way more to do with it. To spout off at a writer 20 years ago you had to write a letter, and by the time you do that the moment has passed. Now you can click before you think.

But is there something else going on here than merely anonymity and immediacy?  In the past, Jeff Pearlman has called a subject of his writing “evil.”  He called someone “a truly pathetic human being” and a “punk.” These aren’t isolated incidents. It’s fairly par for the course for him to make stark moral judgments about people and to say things about them that he would never, ever say to their face.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, because it is his blog and his voice. You can say a lot of things about Jeff Pearlman, but he is a passionate writer who never hesitates to speak his mind. I wouldn’t dare propose that he censor himself and if someone tried to censor him, I’d defend his right to say what he wants to the death, even if I disagree with it.

But there’s no escaping the fact that a writer ultimately sets the tone for his blog.  As such, he should not be surprised when he reaps what he sows.

  1. BC - Jan 24, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Pearlman is….. yep… here it comes…. a chipwich.
    Send him my IP address if he complains. Would be happy to call him that by phone or in person.
    Chipwich.
    Oh…. I guess I just spouted off. Sorry.

  2. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 24, 2011 at 9:50 AM

    Having read this and having gone back and checked out Pearlman’s blog posts from the relevant period, I do think that Pearlman is skewing things a bit in his CNN post.

    Are we shocked? The man has zero class and/or dignity. Of course he’d skew something to put himself in the best of light and make everyone else look worse. Still utterly shocked how these clowns have these jobs…

  3. Jonny 5 - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    Knowing some people that are slightly “touched in the head” I’d have to say Pearlman is exactly that. Low level but obvious paranoia. Lashing out at people who don’t agree, and resorting to name calling. It’s a blog, people will attack your point of view from time to time. I think attacking back rather than more emphasis on your point in a rational way is only going to compound the problem. And only someone who’s nuerons are misfiring would run a blog the way Pearlman does. What is he? 5? So what if he thinks certain posters are a$$ holes? Is he that far off his rocker that he thinks this won’t fuel their attacks even more? I have to say yes.

  4. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    As I said before, if you track people down for calling you names, you can’t complain if people start tracking you down.

  5. bigcatasroma - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    CC,

    I agree with your point about tone. If you scroll around, i.e. Foxnews, the tone is uncivil and downright vicious. Even most of the hardcore right-winged fanatics, when approached in real life, would not say 98% of the things which they do on Foxnews, not because of anonymity, but because of the tone set by the pieces. You, and i.e. Poz, have a civil tone that leads anyone to think that you’re their friend, that you can chill and have a beer, and even if disagree over a point, have a fascinating hours-long conversation about why Jeff Francoeur sucks. Actually, Frenchy is a perfect example – we can feel your abject hate for his *as a media-created baseball-player* but nothing comes across about any hatred as a person. Perelman, on the other hand, can be down right accusatory, obnoxious and Cowherd-like. So his readers don’t feel like they can share a beer with him, but can share a shouting match across a table. As the saying says, you reap what you sow . . .

    • bigcatasroma - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:36 AM

      That’s Pearlman, I guess I have corporate raiders on my mind . . .

    • BC - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:55 AM

      Cowherd is obnoxious and a blowhard, but he’s not mean or angry, nor do I find him insulting people left and right. I don’t particularly care for him, but don’t put him the same class with Pearlman or Bill O’Reilly or Chris Matthews any of these other jerks who just enjoy getting their moments in the sun and trying to get people angry about something.

      • bigcatasroma - Jan 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM

        BC, you’re right. I was saying more that, because he welcomes and actively takes the controversial/contrarian position, even if facts don’t back it up, he usually gets very angry/intense response to that position. While I personally think he’s nothing like that, he does from time to time take a position that cuts against the grain — of course, we should never take a position to argue because it’s the mainstream position or whatever, but sometimes I do think Cowherd does it to rile up his audience. He even admits his position as radio personality is to stir up emotion. But I agree with you the *way* in which he does it is nowhere near any of the three you mentioned – every time I hear/read those three, their positions aren’t based on facts/knowledge (which Cowherd’s will be) but based on their own stereotypes/preformed bias.

  6. bigcatasroma - Jan 24, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Haha, and *I* just looked up this Andy dude. Jesuit educated at Scranton and from Philly. Prep guy? Andy? Only a St. Joe’s Prep guy from Philadelphia could get a vilified SI writer to hunt him down…

  7. paperlions - Jan 24, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    I’ve never liked Pearlman’s writing, it never occurred to me that it may be the fairly obvious lack of objectivity in his approach to a topic…he is more interested in painting himself or his opinion in a positive light than he is in being accurate. In my profession, “spin” is not tolerated and work is data/fact/information driven and opinions need to be strongly supported by the data….that may be why I tend to read certain types of blogs/writers more than others.

  8. aaronmoreno - Jan 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Wow, I was gonna say, “You suck, Calcaterra!” and dare you to find me, but I punched my name into google, and couldn’t find myself.

    My heart hurts.

  9. jkcalhoun - Jan 24, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    I am shocked, shocked to find that skewing is going on here.

  10. ngearhart1981 - Jan 24, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if Bagwell were to call Pearlman, demanding answers for the things he had to say about him?

  11. Chris Fiorentino - Jan 24, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    I could only read the first few paragraphs of Pearlman’s story before throwing up in my mouth. He tracked the guy down and called him? Seriously? Your 7 year old daughter was sitting next to you when you clicked on a link from some anonymous dude he was “tweeting with” on the internet? Seriously? What a complete idiot. And a dick to boot. If he had called me up, I would have laughed in his ear, and told him to get a life. If he continued to press, I would have gladly given him my address and invited him for a face-to-face interview.

  12. baseballstars - Jan 24, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Pearlman probably conveniently left out all the people who didn’t back down on their original comments.

    I’m sure he’ll bash the (awesome) NES game “Baseball Stars” now.

  13. trevorb06 - Jan 24, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Fighting over the internet is much like the Special Olympics… even if you win, you’re still retarded.

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