I don’t see how he has used his authority as editor of the PGR to threaten, etc. His name calling is childish and the legal threats are probably without merit, but he’s not doing anything that you or I couldn’t do. To make your case you’d need examples of him skewing the PGR to punish his enemies. And I haven’t seen evidence of that.The reason for all this bemusement is that I thought it was abundantly obvious that Brian Leiter absolutely skews the PGR to punish his enemies, at least in one key area. He doesn't hide it. This behavior isn't the basis for the current controversy, of course, but the fact is that he totally does that, openly and in full view of everyone who pays attention.
I guess I'd like to preface this by saying that I have no interest or training in continental philosophy. I was educated in thoroughly analytic departments; my teachers mentioned continental philosophy with derision when they mentioned it at all. Once, when I was an undergraduate, my roommate's friend left a copy of Being and Nothingness on my pillow, but I can't say I gave it the old college try--I gave up when I couldn't figure out what he was talking about after not more than a few of pages. I'm not the least bit informed about continental philosophy in any of its incarnations, and I have no interest in defending it as a serious intellectual enterprise. I'm not informed enough to know whether it is or not.
My own lack of interest in and engagement with SPEP-style, "party line" continental philosophy notwithstanding, that type of philosophy clearly exists, and is clearly philosophy. Its practitioners are typically trained in philosophy, have Ph.D. degrees in it, work in philosophy departments, and publish in philosophy journals. The historical figures they study and/or regard as their intellectual forebears were philosophers. If it's anything at all, it's philosophy.
But you wouldn't know this by looking at the PGR. If your department is strong in SPEP-style continental philosophy, you will not be rewarded for this strength with a position in the overall rankings. Nor will you see this strength reflected in specialty rankings. There are no SPEP-affiliated philosophers on the Advisory Board (which is hand-picked by Leiter), nor have any SPEP-affiliated philosophers serve as evaluators (who are nominated by the advisory board but subject to approval by Leiter). If you're a student who's interested in this kind of philosophy, the PGR will not help you in any way. (The PGR has specialty rankings for 19th- and 20th century continental philosophy, but Leiter doesn't seem to intend this to represent the SPEP style, and the SPEP people don't seem to think it represents them. This is one of Noelle McAfee's complaints, and is one of the reasons why the Pluralist's Guide was created.) Although this kind of philosophy exists and has a real presence in the discipline--lots of people specialize in it; lots of departments regard themselves as strong in it--it is systematically excluded from the PGR
[Update (10-2-14): Discussion below has convinced me that some of the language in the above paragraph is too strong. Decisions about which departments to evaluate and which specialties to include in the "Breakdown by Specialty" section are made by the advisory board, and not Leiter alone. So it would not be accurate to say that SPEP-style philosophy is excluded from the report simply because Leiter thinks its shitty.
However, as I say in comments below, the composition of the advisory board is at Leiter's sole discretion, and its composition therefore reflects his opinions about what is important, rather than a discipline-wide consensus. Although it would be too strong to say that the judgments of the advisory board reflect Leiter's opinions full stop, it would not be accurate to say that its judgments reflect the kind of broad cross-section of the discipline that could reveal anything approaching a consensus.]
Now, again, just to be clear. The thing that bothers me about this is not that SPEP-style philosophy isn't represented in the PGR's overall rankings (although I think it should be represented in the Specialty Rankings--it is a specialty, after all). The thing that bothers me is that this is accomplished
So I think this much is clear: Brian Leiter uses his authority as editor of the PGR to punish his "enemies" (are they his enemies? They are not his friends) in the SPEP by writing the Report so as to create the illusion that SPEP-style continental philosophy does not exist. Since SPEP-style continental philosophy does exist, I don't think it would be unfair to call that "skewing". If that's what it takes to show that Leiter has abused his authority as editor of the PGR, I think we can consider it shown.
I'm willing to be proven wrong about this--as I say, I don't really know anything about continental philosophy, so I could be misreading something or something. But it seems to me that he skews the report, because that's what he says he does.