The initial stimulus to the controversy was Greenwald's criticism of Allen for letting a Bush administration figure make anonymous criticisms of Obama.
But Allen's hackery wouldn't be worth noticing if he had just stopped there. But Allen wrote in a reply to Greenwald that the still anonymous Bush official had e-mailed him an incendiary criticism of Obama without even asking for anonymity. At that point, Allen asked the Bush official if he could quote the e-mail and the Bush official declined because it would make him look bad to be so critical of our very popular president.
According to him, all Bush officials other than Karl Rove and Dick Cheney are too cowardly to criticize Barack Obama on the record -- "They have new careers, and they know it’s a fight they’ll never win. He’s popular; they’re not; they get it" -- so what is a poor reporter like him to do other than agree to anonymity?
What are they scared of? Is criticizing Obama going to keep them from getting jobs with the Republican Party? Apparently agreeing that he didn't want to make the Bush official look "so" bad, Allen let the e-mail be quoted anonymously. In other words, Allen had a "story" of an incendiary e-mail from a former high official in the Bush administration and deluted the story because he felt sorry for the guy.
Give me a break!
But it gets worse. Allen had to write this little gem in his reply to Greenwald (Quoted from Greenwald's Salon post):
I figured that readers could decide whether the former Bush official’s comments sounded defensive or vindictive. . . . So at the bottom of the Axelrod story, I tacked on an ellipsized excerpt of the former Bush official’s quotes, removing several ad hominem attacks on Obama. I quoted less than half of the comment and took out the most incendiary parts -- a way to hint at the opposing view without giving an anonymous source free rein.
Let me translate this into a plainer version of the King's English. Seemingly still feeling sorry for the former Bushie, Mike Allen redacted more than "half of the comment and took out the most incendiary parts" as a way to make the Bush official look like less of an asshole. That way, the "readers could decide whether the former Bush official's comments sounded defensive or vindictive" because he himself had edited out all the material that made the vindictiveness of the Bush official obvious.
I guess my title was misstated. A real hack would have left in the juicy parts of the Bush official's comments as a way to titillate the reader. Mike Allen was so invested in protecting this Bush official that he couldn't bring himself up to the hack level.
What an embarrassment!