Washington Post‘s Wesley Lowery is going to love this story – in the sense that it’s all about his favorite subject: him.
In an age when journalism is unfortunately entwined with personal branding, reporters never want the story to be about them. This is why both HuffPost and WaPo immediately released statements about their reporters regarding the events in Ferguson. (In other words, whenever possible, make the story all about you and hold on for dear life. Your bosses will love it. Hell, if Slate‘s Dave Weigel can make Robin Williams‘ suicide all about him, don’t doubt yourself, you can do it too.)
Last week, Politico‘s Chief White House Correspondent and Playbook proprietor Mike Allen wrote a playful graph about Lowery. His headline: “Ya Can’t Make It Up!” He ran one of Wesley’s many insufferable comments in the past week about the media: “Wesley Lowrey, 23-year-old Congress/politics reporter for the WashPost, responding on CNN to suggestions that he should have obeyed police amid a riot: ‘[L]et me be clear about this: I have LITTLE PATIENCE for talking heads.'”
Allen faced wide outrage for the crack, but he did accurately size up a 24-year-old egomaniacal punk of a reporter who was busy condescending to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (who I hardly ever defend) and a slew of Washington journalists. Scarborough dared to say that maybe Wesley should “move along” when a cop tells him to do just that.
There are many things to be said about how annoying “Morning Joe” has gotten. But Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinksi being too lazy to head down to Ferguson, Mo. with Wesley, isn’t one of them. They’ve been to plenty of disaster sites. They’ve done a ton of on-the-ground reporting. NBC has reporters stationed there. And besides, Mika had to take her daughter to college. (No cynicism here, it was exactly where she should’ve been.)
Even though Scarborough wasn’t mentioned in Allen’s post, NY Mag’s Jonathan Chait presumed he was the invisible ghostly force behind it. “Riding to Scarborough’s side today, forming a kind of journalistic Axis of Evil, is Mike Allen,” wrote Chait. He summed up his story with this kicker (and what I really mean is kick in the balls): “If Lowery wants more favorable coverage from Allen, maybe he should think about sponsoring some ads in Playbook.”
Wesley, meanwhile, was not in Ferguson Sunday morning. He was where any self-loving journalist would be – back in Washington to appear on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” A real man of the people dedicated to Ferguson coverage. First things first: Press for Wesley.
Which brings me to a question for WaPo: Why Wesley?
He’s a congressional and politics reporter and yet WaPo sends him to cover Ferguson? WaPo supposedly has a whole national team dedicated to this kind of stuff, but they send a cub politics reporter?
After Allen’s wrist slap, Wesley reacted by bashing Politico as a place where black journalists don’t work. After that, Washington media Groupthink emerged and you had stories ripping apart Allen for boxing the ears of a whippersnapper who’s gotten a little big for his britches. HuffPost‘s liberal media writer Jason Linkins gave Allen a spanking, reminding people that he allegedly cozies up to his advertisers and equated that to his protecting pundits and taking a “gratuitous pot shot” at Wesley.
Linkins methodically squashed every word of Allen’s 58-word post heard around the world. Allen got Wesley’s age wrong! (He’s 24, not 23.) He spelled his name wrong! (It’s Lowery not Lowrey.) When you’re dealing with egomaniacs, they tend to lose their minds when you get their name wrong. Linkins berated Allen for saying Wesley was amid a riot, when he was in a McDonald’s (that was located amid a riot outside the fast food joint), and for Allen’s wild notion that Wesley had failed to obey police.
Linkins wrote that Allen likes to slap young reporters with cracks on their age when he has “no real factual claim to back up the notion that they have truly demonstrated they are incompetent and inexperienced.” So in Linkins’ view, Allen must be an enemy to young, good reporters. Except that Linkins can only come up with one instance when Allen has spoken down to a young reporter.
And then he makes another joke about a Playbook advertiser, Chevron. “Many journalists mature into even more-seasoned questioners of authority,” writes Linkins. “Not Mike Allen, though. Chevron thanks him.” How about those unpaid HuffPost bloggers, Linkins? Still defending that practice? Still wish I’d die in a fire?
Every publication is struggling to find ways to pay its reporters, be it native advertising or Chevron. No shame in that.
Who knew Allen would have been a week ahead of everyone else in his prophecy about Wesley being a little too full of himself?
Mediaite columnist and TV pundit Joe Concha also caught wind of Wesley’s eagle-eyed sense of opportunism. “[He’s] completely angling for a contributor or host job on MSNBC,” Concha told The Mirror. “He’s already taking a side and twisting a narrative by personally injecting himself.”
Concha remarked on Fox News’ MediaBuzz this weekend,”If you watch that tape in full, on 23 separate occasions officers asked Wes Lowrey and Ryan Reilly [to pack up and leave.] Now how do Wes and Ryan know what’s happening in the street that they can resist that order?”
Concha continued, “How do you pack up equipment and batteries when you’re holding up a camera and pointing it at somebody? I’m having a little trouble grabbing my laptop and all of my equipment when I do that. And here’s how you know that this is all about Wesley expanding his television career. Right after he was released from custody, it was all about tweeting out, going on national television, …this was a media tour that was only rivaled by Hillary Clinton’s, all in the effort to give Wes Lowery’s byline a microphone, a future career, and nothing more.”
Wesley shot back at Concha on Twitter, saying, “Believe it or not, I’ve already got a national platform (wapo) and am on TV 2/3 times a week. Didn’t need this.” Ok, Donald Trump.
More condescending facts of life from Wesley: “If a reporter says they were arrested and your first instinct is to demand ‘arrested or detained?!’ than [sic] you have missed the point entirely,” he wrote on Twitter.
Over on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter was busy telling Wesley’s “cellmate” Ryan J. Reilly that no reporter actually likes being the story. OH. OF COURSE NOT.
Reilly of course agreed with him — making the segment that much more excruciating to watch.
Over the weekend, Wesley couldn’t seem to handle the grief he was getting on Twitter about keeping himself in the eye of the Ferguson storm. A follower asked, “Is it possible to get a reporter on the ground who won’t make the story abt them?”
Wesley’s tone-deaf answer: “You mean like someone who will do lots of reporting and then sit in a McDonalds to write some stories? Cause we tried that.”
Other comments he endured: “All you media people on your ego trips GO HOME!! You’re not the story!! You’re the problem.”
And when Wesley tweeted about video stills of Michael Brown and the “Quick Trip” worker, someone didn’t like it. “It wasn’t at QT YOU FUCKING IDIOT!! #GetYourFactsStraight.”
Wesley replied, “Corrected that tweet twice to clarify. Thanks for your sweet language.”
Getting back to — who else? — Wesley, did that shove against a soda machine affect him more than we knew?
This morning, he went on Twitter and when I tweaked him for possibly being jealous when HuffPost‘s Ryan Reilly is on TV, he asked if I’d learned to spell his name correctly. (Backstory: Over the weekend, I spelled his name three different ways — since corrected.) I told him on Twitter that I was trying as best as I could with someone as important as him. I have no issue with an egomaniac correcting me on the spelling of his name — I prefer getting people’s names right — but I do take issue with him being a rude asshole.
He eventually told me on Twitter, “Would actually prefer if you’d stop writing about me. Maybe even head down to Ferguson to do some reporting.”
So now Wesley’s my editor? Yeah, that would work. Let’s get the gossip reporter down to Ferguson to give that city the coverage it deserves.
Wesley likes coverage about him as long as it involves him wearing makeup and staring into a camera. Nothing less for Wesley as he demeans journos who have been in the business decades longer than him. And no, time in the business doesn’t command respect, but neither does shooting your mouth off in your early 20s.
He also wrote me this gem: “Get a life. You are what’s wrong with journalism.” (You see, Wesley is everything that’s right with journalism.)
Wesley’s back on the ground tonight. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Well, I can’t. He blocked me on Twitter.