TheDC’s Jonathan Strong wrote a piece today detailing numerous e-mails sent by Dave Weigel, a reporter who — until he resigned this afternoon — covered the conservative beat for the Washington Post. Strong’s article raises several troubling questions about Weigel himself, his superiors and colleagues at the Washington Post, and the hundreds of so-called objective journalists who are members of the Journolist e-mail group and have been privy to this information for months.
1) Why did the Washington Post hire someone with uncontrollable disdain for conservatives and Republicans to cover conservatives and Republicans?
When Weigel was hired, the Washington Post issued a press release saying that he had “quite a following and reputation chronicling the conservative movement” and that the paper looked forward to adding his “strong reportorial voice, and insights into the right, to our political coverage, primarily online, as we ramp up for the 2010 midterms.”
Strong’s article today clearly indicates that Weigel was hired to cover a subject he did not respect. Today’s piece also shows that Weigel has the mindset of a profane eighth grader when dealing with political issues. For example, Weigel repeatedly cast Republicans and conservatives as the bad guys, referring to them as “ratfuckers.”
2) How many reporters and editors at the Washington Post were aware of Weigel’s comments on Journolist?
Journolist, the listserv on which Weigel repeatedly insulted conservatives and Republicans, reportedly has more than 400 members. How many of those members currently work for the Washington Post? We know for certain that the listserv was founded by another Washington Post contributor, Ezra Klein. Why did Klein and other Journolist contributors who work for the Washington Post stand by and allow their newspaper’s readers to be conned into thinking that Weigel was an objective reporter with no axe to grind when they knew for a fact that wasn’t true?
3) How does the Washington Post plan on dealing with this issue? Weigel has resigned but the Post still owes its readers an explanation.
When the story about Weigel’s comments about Matt Drudge first appeared on Fishbowl DC, Weigel’s bosses at the Washington Post didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. According to POLITICO, one Washington Post editor said:
Dave’s apology to readers reflects he understands, in calmer hindsight, the need to exercise good judgment at all times and of not throwing stones, especially when operating from inside an echo-filled glass house that is modern-day digital journalism …Time to move on.
After today’s reporting by TheDC, does the Washington Post still think this is no big deal? The newspaper’s treatment of the issue so far suggests that conservatives and Republicans have zero reason to trust the newspaper’s reporting going forward.
4) What do all the other so-called objective journalists who are members of Journolist have to say? How can they claim any loose association with the concepts of truth and fairness as they stood by and participated in this fraud?
Few members of Journolist have commented publicly on Weigel to date. One of the few who has anonymously defended him to POLITICO:
Whoever broke the confidentiality of the list obviously has no respect for some pretty basic journalistic norms. But I can’t talk about it because it’s supposed to be confidential. Whoever leaked that is obviously extremely jealous of the exceptional work that Dave is doing for the Post, and whatever Dave said should be viewed in that light.
Excuse me? The Washington Post holds out Weigel as their reporter of choice to cover conservatives and Republicans. Weigel spends all his time going to conservative and Republican events and claiming to be an objective reporter there to cover them fairly. In between these events Weigel goes online and vents on Journolist to 400 other journalists — many who claim to be of the “objective” variety — about just how much he hates those “ratfucker” (his word) conservatives and Republicans. All of the other journalists in the know about this fraud just sit tight and let the fraud continue. Are these the “basic journalistic norms” that those on Journolist are upholding? The reporters on Journolist owe their readers an explanation.
Neil Patel is the publisher of The Daily Caller.