I agree that Althouse was prescient in her first post about this, when she speculated that it might be a hoax.
Her second posting was somewhat less skeptical. She referred back to her previous post, but then added this:
Ann Althouse wrote:This is an extremely disturbing story [...] If these really are texts from Pocan's partner, we ought to know more about the whole context. Maybe these 2 men have been exchanging playful texts that would make this material feel more like joking.
The first bunch of commenters on that second post mostly do not appear to have believed it was a hoax; for the most part they treat it as real.
Althouse was not the only person to initially suspect the story might be a hoax, but then start treating it as real once a couple of days had gone by. I noticed the same pattern at a couple of other conservative sites.
I'm no fan of Althouse -- she seems rather unpleasant, and is pretty reliably right-wing on most matters -- but I don't have a real problem with how she handled this story. I would argue that if you suspect a story's a hoax, it might be better not to publicize the story at all, rather than publicizing it along with a note suggesting that it might be a hoax. But that's just me.
I do think she could do a better job of reining in the craziness of her commenters. There are lots of ways of setting the tone for one's comment section. I am not sure whether she actively likes
the fact that the comments on her blog tend to be vicious, reactionary, and dishonest, or whether she doesn't particularly care.