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AJC Accuses Bruce Levenson of Anonymous Posting

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Atlanta Thrashers owner Bruce Levenson has written an opinion piece (hat tip to Thrashers Prospect Annex) in the Sports Business Journal in which he rips AJC sports reporter Kristi Swartz for accusing him of being the poster "Whammer" on the AJC site. Why did she think "Whammer" was Bruce Levenson? Because he/she/it posted from the IP address of Levenson's company in the DC area.

Swartz asked for a super secret face-to-face meeting with Levenson to level the charge that he was posting as "Whammer"in the comment section. The only problem was that while the two of them were meeting the mysterious "Whammer" visited the AJC site. "Opps, my bad!"

Swartz then accused Levenson's business partner and co-owner Ed Peskowitz of being "Whammer" which Levenson demolished by revealing private personal information about his partner, namely that Peskowitz is seriously ill and battling spinal meningitis in a hospital.

First reaction: Holy Cow! Things just got a lot more interesting between the AJC and Atlanta Spirit.

Second reaction: Levenson must be really ticked off to write his own op-ed piece on this. He's so ticked off that, he is revealing Peskowitz's significant health problem (which most people would wish to keep quiet). Many businesses in America are fighting to keep their head above water in this economy and my guess is that all is not sunshine and roses at Levenson, Peskowitz et al so the fact that Leveonson took the time to write this up is an indicator that he is lava hot about this whole incident.

Third reaction: "That's it? Really that's the best the AJC can dig up?" LOL OMG please return your investigative reporter badge to the person you stole it from.

Imagine for a moment you're Bruce Levenson. You receive a request for a super secret face-to-face meeting with the AJC. You're got to be at least a little bit worried. You're in the middle of a multi-year, multi-million dollar lawsuit, you have 50 players and prospects who might have done something that would embarrass the organization and you have numerous Atlanta Spirit employees who could be out doing evil unbeknown to you. So you walk into this meeting expecting a real bomb to be dropped--something that might cause you a major headache or perhaps even cost you a lot of money if it is particularly damaging. And the reporter from the AJC accuses you of making some anonymous posts--REALLY? REALLY! That's the best you can muster!?

Think about this for a second. The legal battles between the Atlanta Spirit members have produced a giant pile of legal filings. Personally, I would love to get my hands on those filings but getting your hands on those documents is rather expensive--money I'm going to keep in my own pocket. Now the AJC either owns a copy of these filings or had the access to read them--because they published a few nuggets. There is probably more stuff in that stack of paper--but instead of doing the hard work of digging through the gritty details of the ownership lawsuit the AJC chooses to spent its time and energy playing the "guess who is behind this IP address" game.

Third reaction: Do the people at the AJC know anything about how computers work? I can see the IP address of almost everyone who visits this blog. When people visit I can see where they work or go to school (hello Clemson reader, hello Bellsouth readers, hello Rochester public schools) etc. But the IP address alone can not tell me WHICH particular Clemson or BellSouth user is visiting my site. For example, I can see that Atlanta Spirit employees visit this blog--is that Don Waddell or Ben Wright? It is rather difficut to say. It can be fun to look at the IP data and speculate who a reader MIGHT be--but 99%  of the time it is nothing more than a guess on my part.

Fourth reaction: "Whammer" needs a new user name. Just for kicks, I would like to offer the following as possible replacement names for user formerly know as "Whammer"--feel free to suggest your own in the comments section.

  • "I'm Not Levenson"
  • "Employee, Not Owner" 
  • "IP Addresses R Fun"
  • "Free Journalism Lessons"
  • "I hate LAC"

Conclusion: I'm not sure what repercussions will come from this incident--maybe none. But it seems clear that Levenson--who runs a company that does industry specific reporting--is outraged by this. It also appears that the AJC's penchant for settling for the easy stories rather than doing the hard work investigatory journalism requires is likely to continue.