A The New Republics writer I've never heard of, a Lee Siegel, has been caught up in a sock puppetry scandal. Mr. Siegel had a blog at TNR and commented on his own posts under a pseudonym, "sprezzatura." (For the time being, one of the threads at issue can be seen here.) "Sprezzatura" means a sort of aristocratic nonchalance, so Siegel apparently has no insight into his own character, but the thread, although completely unedifying, makes for fascinating reading. Given that TNR has become entirely irrelevant (too right for the left and too left for the right), when's the last time it published anything that made for fascinating reading?
So obviously it fired the author immediately.
What is it about sock puppetry that makes it a firing offense? The author is withholding information about his identity as a commenter, but do the other commenters really care? As author, a writer has the magazine's authority as well as his own and should be kept to a high standard of trustworthiness. But as an anonymous commenter? Why should we as readers care whether the anonymous schmo supporting the author is the author? This is an instance where dead-tree ethics don't seem to translate well to the on-line world and, in fact, get in the way of the magazine's primary duty to the reader: providing content that is interesting to read.