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"Did Google use its network of online services to silence critics of Barack Obama?" asks New York Times reporter Miguel Helft today, in what reads like the Gray Lady's attempt to do Valleywag-style gossipmongering. There's something very wrong with the post: Read it and see if you think Helft believed for a minute that any Google employees deliberately and maliciously turned off a few Google-hosted blogs supporting Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

No, it reads like a classic IT malfunction. Second-tier bloggers were accidentally identified as splogs — spam blogs — and disabled. At worst, Google's computers were fooled by Obamatards who maliciously flagged other candidates' sites en masse as "objectionable," triggering an automated shutoff. That's a good enough story that it doesn't need to be wrapped in a far more serious pretend charge. Google silencing Obama critics? If Times editors thought for a moment it had really happened, the story wouldn't be on the Bits blog. It would be on Page 1.