Political blogger resigns over private remarks

Washington Post political
blogger Dave Weigel has resigned after negative comments about
conservatives on a private e-mail list were made public. He was only on the job for three months.

A New York Times story titled “Outspoken is Great, Till It’s Not” reports:

“In the media business, we talk a lot about transparency. Nobody was more transparent than Dave Weigel, the “Right Now” blogger for The Washington Post . . . His job, part of a broader experiment at The Post, was to combine reporting and opinion in search of deeper understanding of the conservative movement. His Twitter feed gave a steady, and sometimes spicy, accounting of exactly what was running through his head. His writing on the newspaper’s blog, which contained real immersive reporting and significant inquiry, was also clear about what he believed to be true.

“That’s part of what The Washington Post was seeking when it hired Mr. Weigel, a former writer from The Washington Independent and Reason magazine, to blog about the conservative moment. Like many mainstream media outlets, it wanted some of the crackle that is coming from the perimeter of insurgent media.”

The comments in question were brought to light when The Daily Caller published some of his posts to JournoList, an “invitation-only e-mail list composed of 400 politically interested journalists”, the NYT reports. It was founded by Ezra Klein, now a liberal blogger for The Post’s web site. The Post writes: “Klein wrote Friday that he is abolishing Journolist immediately because its archives have “become a weapon.” He said he is “heartbroken” over the resignation of Weigel, calling him “an extraordinary reporter and a dear friend.” “

NYT reports:

“In comments made mostly before he was hired at The Washington Post three months ago, Mr. Weigel used the term “Paultard” to describe followers of Ron Paul and also suggested that Patrick Buchanan was “an anti-Semite” and that Newt Gingrich was an “amoral blowhard.” More recently, he wrote that Matt Drudge, the conservative aggregator and blogger behind The Drudge Report, should “set himself on fire.”

“Dumb, that, especially the part about sliming both disabled people and conservatives in just eight letters, but even as his resignation was offered and quickly accepted, none of the Post leadership suggested his actual work was anything less than rigorous or fair.

” “Dave did excellent work for us,” the executive editor of The Post, Marcus Brauchli, told Howard Kurtz, the paper’s media columnist, but then added, “We can’t have any tolerance for the perception that people are conflicted or bring a bias to their work.” ”

Weigel wrote a column on the Daily Caller
about the comments, Journo-list, coming to a new beat and
the consequences of being publicly annoyed.

“I was talking, largely, to liberals who didn’t really know
conservatives. So I assumed they thought Hugh Hewitt was “buffoonish.” I
said Gingrich had a “screwed-up tenture” because Republicans I admired,
like Sen. Tom Coburn (R, Ok.) and Dick Armey, had serious problems with
how Gingrich ran the House.

“But I was cocky, and I got worse. I treated the list like a dive bar,
swaggering in and popping off about what was “really” happening out
there, and snarking at conservatives. Why did I want these people to
like me so much? Why did I assume that I needed to crack wise and rant
about people who, usually for no more than five minutes were getting on
my nerves? Because I was stupid and arrogant, and needlessly mean.  . . .

“Still, this was hubris. It was the hubris of someone who rose —
objectively speaking — a bit too fast, and someone who misunderstood a
few things about his trade. It was also the hubris of someone who
thought the best way to be annoyed about something was to do it
publicly. This is the reason I’m surprised at commentary accusing me of
misrepresenting myself.”