This image was lost some time after publication.

An extraordinary public slap, rarely seen in the genteel world of magazine publisher Time Inc.: Fortune appears to have momentarily taken executive editor Josh Quittner's Techland blog away from him and handed it to rival tech writer David Kirkpatrick. Quittner's recent blog rant about Facebook's Beacon was wrongheaded enough, but entirely undeserving of this humiliation — republishing, duplicatively, a column by Kirkpatrick in Quittner's blog. Kirkpatrick, left, declared that Quittner, right, had been "silenced" on the Facebook issue. He went on to tear apart, at length, Quittner's argument. All the more shaming, because Kirkpatrick is — how to put this gently? — a laughingstock among his colleagues.

None of them want to say anything, though. Why? By playing the house sycophant, Kirkpatrick takes the pressure off the rest of Fortune's staff to write the bootlicking tech-CEO profiles he's known for — like his recent mash note to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Kirkpatrick's probing analysis of Zuckerberg? He's "nice."