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Lee Marshall Challenged To Reveal Himself

August 14, 2002

As someone who is concerned about the ethics of an opinion columnist hiding behind the pseudonym "Lee Marshall" and Mr. Asbury permitting this on his web site, I posed the following question to Howard Kurtz, the media analyst for the Washington Post, in his online discussion of Monday, August 12. Below is the question I posed and his response.

Frederick, Md.: Howard, this is question about local Frederick County media and I hope you find it applicable to your chat. In Frederick we have a Web site for local political commentary and news called thetentacle.com. David Snyder wrote an article about the site and it's owner in the July 14 Post. David refers to it as "sort of home-brewed local Drudge Report -- from a motley assortment of amateur columnists."

One of the columnists uses the pseudonym "Lee Marshall." He refuses to identify himself and the site owner John Asbury will not reveal his identity.

In the area of political commentary and opinion what is the ethics of this? Would The Post ever knowingly publish political commentary under a pseudonym? Thanks.

Howard Kurtz: Not as a regular feature. It would be one thing to publish a piece by someone inside the bureaucracy who would be in danger of losing his or her job if identified. And e-mailers are not always fully identified. But I don't think any news outfit or Web site should regularly give a platform to someone who shields his or her identity. There's something odd about that.

Mr. "Marshall" should reveal his identity or at the very least explain why he can not or will not do so. Mr. Asbury should not give Mr. Marshall a platform until he does provide an explanation. Or is Mr. Marshall just a coward?

Neal Wirth, Frederick

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