With the midterm election season heating up, particularly in the wake of the passage of ObamaCare, the Washington Post is expanding its blogging outfit. Less than a year after I wrote about the Post hiring flaming liberal Ezra "not everything the Nazis touched was bad" Klein, the paper has hired another blogger who has been critical of the Right, and his beat will be, you guessed it, covering conservatives.
Reported Politico's Michael Calderone yesterday:
David Weigel, who’s been covering the right for the Washington Independent, will soon be heading to the Washington Post.
Weigel joins the Post on April 5, and will be launching a blog focused on the conservative movement, tea party activists, and how the GOP's preparing for November.
National editor Kevin Merida confirmed the news to POLITICO and said that Weigel will be “a voice on our politics page online and a presence that will add to our robust coverage of the 2010 midterm elections.”
Now, Weigel doesn't practice the same brand of liberal hacktivism of say Ezra Klein. Indeed, Weigel even wrote for the libertarian Reason magazine at one point. However, news of the Post hiring him caused a conservative backlash on Twitter as many conservatives believe that Weigel would not provide fair reporting.
The concern seems to stem from his past reporting for The Washington Independent where he even backed a smear by Max Blumenthal against James O'Keefe before eventually retracting and clarifying his comments.
Despite these concerns Weigel himself claims to be sympathetic to the conservative movement, not an adversary to it. When asked by e-mail for comment on how he plans to conduct his reporting at the Washington Post he replied:
I come out of the conservative movement, believe it or not. I edited a conservative newspaper in college (the Northwestern Chronicle); I worked for Reason; I voted for Ron Paul in the 2008 primaries. And frankly, I like how the conservative movement and the GOP work. While the Democratic Party is a collection of interest groups, the GOP is an ideological coalition, composed of people proud to tell you what they believe and why. At the same time, there are elements out there that are clear threats to a sensible GOP and a strong conservative movement -- the birther nuts, scam artists who profit off of the-government-is-collapsing paranoia -- and I relish in exposing those people.
In the end, Weigel's political leanings are, perhaps, of less concern than those of his employer. As Calderone noted (emphasis mine):
By hiring Weigel, it appears that the Post’s hoping to continue the success the paper had bringing in blogger Ezra Klein from the American Prospect last April. Recently, executive editor Marcus Brauchli described Klein as “a new paradigm” and “one we would very much like to replicate.”
“As a blogger, he has more latitude than reporters to reach conclusions,” Brauchli said. “It’s inevitable we will employ more people who have that ability.”
Merida said that Weigel was brought to the Post’s attention by Klein, and later met with Raju Narisetti, the paper’s managing editor who oversees digital content.
Yes, it seems that Post is so pleased with the success they've had in promoting Ezra Klein's heavy-handed liberalism that they want to duplicate it at any cost to their own credibility. While it's laughable to think that Washington Post print reporters don't have an absurd and unprofessional amount of latitude to reach conclusions, it is utterly unacceptable that they want to move even further in that direction.