The newest example of the war between the online and establishment media comes from Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt, who is "widely considered the most slavish recipient" of leaks from Ken Starr's Office of the Independent Counsel, according to an article by Marshall on [Salon Premium subscription required]. Following her March 20 story with Neely Tucker on Robert Ray's final independent counsel report, MWO blasted Schmidt as "Steno[grapher] Sue Schmidt" and told readers to e-mail her, presumably to express their discontent with her reporting.

Two MWO readers, at least, did just that, and allegedly received much more than they were bargaining for.

Andrew Rentschler, an employee of a college in Pennsylvania, assailed Schmidt as having a "fanatical obsession with Clinton," said her work is that "of someone who has sold their soul to the devil," and asked if she was being blackmailed. An associate at a prominent New York City law firm wrote to Schmidt: "You sicken me. One last article filled with lies, distortions and blatant right-wing propaganda."

You get the idea -- the e-mails were, as the associate put it, "highly uncomplimentary," even abusive. But they did not threaten Schmidt in any way. These are the kind of garden-variety angry e-mails people in the political media receive all the time.

But after suffering through increasingly harsh criticism of her coverage of Clinton, Schmidt apparently snapped after receiving the emails, as MWO first reported (the story was then picked up by Jason Cherkis in the Washington City Paper).

According to both Rentschler and the associate, Schmidt researched the domain names the e-mails were sent from and forwarded their e-mails to their employers. While both have avoided repercussions, they are furious about what they regard as unprofessional actions from a journalist.

What's Schmidt's side of the story? What's the Post's policy on this? I can't tell you. When contacted by phone, an upset-sounding Schmidt said "I don't have anything to say" and then "I'm sorry, I gotta go" before hanging up on me. Calls to Managing Editor Stephen Coll and National Editor Liz Spayd went unreturned, and the assistant to ombudsmen Michael Getler said he had been out of the country and couldn't comment. Spayd, however, told Cherkis that Schmidt has been attacked by a "coordinated campaign" and that "[a]t some point, it can get annoying."