No matter what you think of the mainstream media, journalists generally try to be honest and Hiltzik's fundamental dishonesty meant he was lucky he wasn't fired. Not as punishment, but simply because his behavior indicates he may be basically untrustworthy. All any journalist really has is his judgment and integrity. If those are compromised, then any publication he works for is compromised too.
One of Patterico's regular commenters pointed out that on submarines this is called "demonstrated unreliability" and added: "We've all seen folks de-nuked over blindingly stupid liberty incidents." That struck me as a useful analogy, and not just because the commenter made a point of agreeing with me. To expand the military metaphor, Hiltzik was guilty of conduct unbecoming a journalist.
All of the above, by the way, also applies to Michael Fumento, which is why I thought Scripps Howard was correct to yank his syndicated column earlier this year. I have no more patience with true believers on the Right who disagreed with that than I do with true believers on the Left who think Hiltzik got a bum deal.
"All any journalist really has is his judgment and integrity. If those are compromised, then any publication he works for is compromised too."
I wish that was true, but it seems some journalists have lots of other things, friends and money for a start.