Portfolio editor Joanne Lipman should learn rule number 63 or web publishing: by deleting a blog post, one only draws greater attention to it. On Friday, the Conde Nast magazine's media industry terrier, Jeff Bercovici, wrote a typically niggling piece for Portfolio's website about best-selling fabulist, Malcolm Gladwell (displayed after the jump). According to Bercovici, the Tipping Point author is the bane of the fact-checking department at his day job, as a writer for the New Yorker, another title owned by Conde Nast boss Si Newhouse. There was nothing that controversial about Bercovici's item: Gladwell has himself drawn attention to his mockery of orthodox journalistic practice. But the post disappeared from Bercovici's Portfolio blog over the weekend.
There's no evidence that the order came from Conde Nast bigwigs, who are generally relaxed about inter-title criticism; and Gladwell wrote us in an email that he hadn't asked for the post's removal. "No idea what you're talking about I'm afraid," said Gladwell. "Bercovici wrote about me?" But the embattled Lipman, unpopular among her own staff, depends on the goodwill of Newhouse. The most plausible explanation for the deletion: Lipman pre-emptively ordered the removal of the post to save Gladwell, the New Yorker and Conde Nast, from embarrassment. How collegial! Except, by deleting an item which would otherwise have been unremarked, Portfolio's succeeded only in drawing the attention of Slate's eagle-eyed Jack Shafer, and various blogs like this one. And the original post still remains, like a rebuke, in Google's cache of the Portfolio site. Here's the original article and, below, the page as it now appears.