This is the link to the Washington Posts’s blog editors explaining why they have shut off comments "indefinitely" (see posting "Web writing responsibility" via Dion Hinchcliffe’s blog below this one). They must have got a lot of comments to their post in response to their request for feedback ;-), as they have also posted some further clarification.
Sounds grim. I hope some debate about this issue (relevance of comments vs censorship of profanity, personal agendas and the like) will crop up on one of the Nature Publishing Group blogs.
Of course, in the pre-blogging, pre-Internet world, we editors judged submissions, then cut, rewrote and published them according to our criteria — or rejected them as not relevant, against policy, etc. Many people have induldged in consipriacy and paranoia theories about this (and when you read posts like the one on Books Inq. about the "Mary Poppins Affair", you can see why. Editors and publishers need to be responsible and ethical if readers are to trust them).
I guess what is happening on the Washington Post is the downside of the unfettered approach. Is there (yet) an answer? No, seems not – at least not one within the technical ability of the Web 2.0 folk. We’ll see what emerges.