Huffington Post: blocking comments or just having ‘techincal difficulties’?

First, let me say that my political views tend to be closer to those of the typical Huffington Post-er than many of the blogs that, I’m guessing, are going to link to this. With that in mind:

Journalist Mark Ebner (full disclosure, a person with whom I have socialized on occasion) reports that his IP has been banned from leaving comments on Huffington Post blog entries, after he repeatedly posted comments along the lines of:

Laurie – Would you care to comment on your winging in and out of Martha’s Vineyard environmentally-unfriendly private jet?

His comments have all been deleted (except for one which he posted under a pseudonym). When he tries to post from his IP now, he gets the following error message:

Comment Submission Error
Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:
You are not allowed to post comments.

I contacted the HuffPo for comment and received a response from Huffington herself stating, in part: “This absolutely never happened. I take this very seriously. It would go directly against our ground rules.”

Then I received a response from Huffington Post general manager Sarah Bernard:

Generally, we moderate comments and block users for abusive or vile language only. We do not moderate for criticism. We welcome the dialogue on the site. (In fact, I think you’ll see a jab or two about Laurie David’s use of a private plane posted on the site).

Which is true– there is a jab or two directed at David’s private plane, but they also seem to have removed Ebner’s plane-related comments, which, weirdly, weren’t any different tone-wise from the ones they left on.

Bernard claims that Ebner has not been banned from the site, and that he’s getting the ‘you are not allowed to post comments’ message due to some sort of unspecified technical problem. She has dispatched Huffington Post technical people to look into it. No word back yet.

Anyway, either the Huffington Post is banning people or they’re having an unexplained and highly coincidental technical problem which results in someone being told they aren’t allowed to post comments. Although, to be fair, as I said I know Mark, and if I had a public comments section, I’d probably ban him myself. But I’d also admit it.

UPDATE: A reader writes

I tried to leave an anti Cindy Sheehan post in the comments section–my post was very polite and calm, no profanity, name calling or ranting. Just making a rather OBVIOUS point about Sheehan’s son’s re-enlistment. YET I TOO received the banned message! Rather suspicious if you asked me…