DC Trawler

The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel is having a bad month

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(Update: Our server crashed this morning because everybody clicked the Drudge link to the pictures of my knee, and while we were down, Weigel resigned already. You can check out his Viking funeral here.)

A few weeks ago, WaPo’s Dave Weigel got a lot of heat for describing North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge’s assault on a camera-wielding student as a “hug.” Matt Drudge singled out that comment, and Weigel was inundated with angry e-mail. According to FishbowlDC’s Betsy Rothstein, Weigel did not much care for it. Yesterday she published some e-mails Weigel sent to a listserv called Journolist, which is a place where liberal journalists like Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias can say what they really think without their parents bugging them. Here’s what Weigel had to say about Drudge:

“This would be a vastly better world to live in if Matt Drudge decided to handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire.”

Less than Wildean, perhaps. But hey, he was having a bad day, right?

Weigel took to his blog, Right Now (“Inside the conservative movement and the Republican Party with Dave Weigel”), to apologize for getting caught out making that comment and others, including his reference to Ron Paul supporters as “Paultards” and a cheap shot at Washington Examiner reporter Byron York:

Unwisely, I lashed out to Journolist, which I’ve come to view as a place to talk bluntly to friends.

Yes, just 400 of his closest buddies. As James Joyner at Outside the Beltway notes, “This displays a soundness of judgment just this side of a four star general emoting to a reporter from Rolling Stone while on a Bud Lite Lime buzz.”

According to Politico, Weigel’s pals aren’t too happy about this breach of their sacred Journolistic trust:

“People are feeling betrayed by whoever the leaker is, once again,” said Eric Alterman, the Nation columnist and journalism professor who is a member of the listserv. “I think it’s unwise to put anything on that list that you can’t defend in public. There’s no such thing as off-the-record with 400 people.”

But the off-the-record nature of the listserve has been closely guarded, to the point that a previous article by POLITICO’s Michael Calderone on Journolist last year got only a handful of the three dozen listserv members he contacted to share even basic elements of how the list functions…

The paper seems determined to stand behind Weigel on this one.

“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,” said Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti, the architect of the Post’s latest moves into the blogging space. “Time to move on.”

Unfortunately for Weigel, not everybody got the memo. Our own Jonathan Strong has much, much more on Weigel’s Journolist comments and finds that this is not a new development:

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh famously said he hoped President Obama would “fail” in January, 2009. Almost a year later, when Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital with chest pains, Washington Post reporter David Weigel had a wish of his own. “I hope he fails,” Weigel cracked to fellow liberal reporters on the “Journolist” email list-serv.

“Too soon?” he wondered.

Weigel also accuses conservatives of racism, most notably Glenn Beck:

When Obama’s “green jobs czar” Van Jones resigned after it was revealed he signed a 9/11 “truther” petition, alleging the government may have conspired to allow terrorists to kill 3,000 civilians, Weigel highlighted the alleged racism of Glenn Beck – Jones’s top critic.

“One extra, obvious point–Beck’s campaign against Jones was transparently racial . . . he treated his very white, very angry audience to video after video of Jones giving scorching speeches. At one point Beck just eschewed subtlety and played videos of Jones alongside videos of Jeremiah Wright while he remained on the screen mugging like Harpo Marx,” Weigel said.

Another highlight: James O’Keefe is an “ACORN ratf***er.” In fact, “ratf***” seems to be one of Weigel’s favorite epithets. He uses it quite, um, liberally.

Weigel’s whole schtick is that he gives WaPo readers an insider’s view of Republicans and conservatives. How is that going to work, now that Republicans and conservatives know what Weigel really thinks of them?

P.S. Via Mollie Hemingway, here’s why newspapers shouldn’t directly import bloggers’ RSS feeds:

P.P.S. Neil Patel has a few questions.

Jim Treacher