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L.A. Times Columnist: Carly Fiorina Should Shut Up About Beating Cancer

Michael Hiltzik, a scandal-ridden Los Angeles Times columnist who was once sanctioned for e-mail hacking, is really upset that Carly Fiorina beat cancer.


Former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina’s poll numbers are surging following her performance in last week’s “undercard” GOP debate, and at least one leftist writer is extremely unhappy about it.

Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times columnist who was once sanctioned by the paper for hacking into the private e-mail accounts of his colleagues, does not like Fiorina. And he really doesn’t like the fact that she beat cancer and is willing to talk about her cancer battle in public:

And what got Hiltzik’s dander up in the first place? According to a column he wrote yesterday for the Los Angeles Times, he’s upset that Carly Fiorina opposes Obamacare and once made a joke about Barbara Boxer:

More to the point, Fiorina, who was making much out of her own battle with breast cancer (“After chemotherapy, Barbara Boxer just isn’t really that scary anymore,” she quipped), displayed the usual contempt that privileged insurance owners have for the uninsureds.

In Hiltzik’s world, skepticism of a health care regime that reduces choice, increases costs, and yet still leaves millions without insurance is tantamount to “contempt.” In Hiltzik’s world, remarks about how you beat cancer are actually violent “weapons.” And who are the victims of those violent word weapons? “Working women,” according to Hiltzik, whose inane ramblings sound more like something you’d read from a commenter at Democratic Underground than from a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

However, in Hiltzik’s case, he might actually be both. After all, he was suspended by the paper for “sock-puppeting” — the practice of using fake names and accounts to comment on his own stories and attack other commenters who disagreed with his work.

Here’s how media critic Howard Kurtz described Hiltzik’s long history of being a terribly insecure person with no scruples:

The Times suspended Hiltzik’s blog on the paper’s Web site last week after he admitted using one or more pseudonyms, in violation of the company’s policy, to post derogatory comments on his and other people’s blogs. The anonymous blasts by “Mikekoshi” were usually aimed at the same people he peppers on his Golden State blog, which is far more personal and inflammatory than his newspaper column on financial issues.

Hiltzik also got into trouble in 1993, when the Times recalled him from the paper’s Moscow bureau after he was caught hacking into colleagues’ e-mail. He was exposed through an internal sting operation when he asked about phony messages that had been sent to other staffers in the bureau.

“His answer was that he was nosy and curious,” says Carey Goldberg, a former colleague in the Moscow bureau who now works for the Boston Globe. “We were extremely upset. It was an incredible invasion of privacy. There were a lot of personal e-mails in there.”

Hiltzik’s sock-puppeting was first exposed in 2006 by Patrick Frey, a California prosecutor. Frey found that Hiltzik’s abusive online behavior had gone on for years and included multiple fake names and accounts.

Which takes us right back to Hiltzik’s comments attacking Fiorina for talking about her battle with cancer. Yes, what he said about her was gross: what kind of unstable loon gets upset by a woman talking about her experience fighting cancer? Most normal people would applaud the strength and resolve of anyone, regardless of political party or ideology, who not only beat cancer, but also used the experience to shore up those who may currently be struggling with the disease.

In Hiltzik’s defense, though, at least he criticized her under his own name instead of using multiple fake, anonymous usernames to attack her while avoiding any personal accountability for his own actions. And, in a break from tradition, Hiltzik also chose to target Fiorina’s public statements, rather than hacking into her private e-mail. It’s no battle against cancer, but at least it’s progress.