Sarah Palin won’t be singing that familiar Mister Rogers Neighborhood tune to author Joe McGinniss anytime soon. Palin’s reaction to her newest neighbor has provided the latest fodder for Washington Post “Right Now” blogger David Weigel, adding to his collection of blog posts and tweets against prominent conservatives.
Weigel’s May 26 post, “Sarah Palin’s strange, unprofessional and paranoid grudge” labeled Palin’s Facebook note “immature” and “sounding angry and mocking.” Weigel defended the right of journalists like McGinniss to write and research stories “as long as they’re within the bounds of the law,” criticizing Palin for thinking she has veto power over who writes about her.
Palin’s Facebook post described her surprise after noticing McGinniss observing her family from his newly rented, next-door house. McGinniss, who is working on an un-authorized biography on Palin, moved from his Massachusetts home to be closer to the subject of his book.
Weigel argued that Palin’s description of McGinniss “overlooking my children’s play area" didn’t just suggest that McGinniss was too close for comfort. He called it “despicable.” “It’s incredibly irresponsible for them [politicians] to sic their fans on journalists they don’t like,” Weigel complained.
Weigel also claimed the Facebook note is the “ultimate example of the way Palin manipulates the press,” making reporters look like stalkers and Republican politicians like saints. He further attributed Glenn Beck’s threat of boycotting Random House over McGinniss’ actions to Palin’s “manipulative” behavior, ending his nasty blog post with the pointed statement that “no one in the media should reward Palin for this irresponsible and pathetic bullying.”
But some in media have different opinions about Weigel’s treatment of Palin’s post. Politico’s Ben Smith wrote that he disagrees with Weigel’s statement that reporters should be immune from criticism, defending Palin’s unhappiness about “an unauthorized biographer”s porch overlooking her backyard.” Smith contended that the American way gives McGinniss the right to “intrude where he can” and, conversely, Palin the right to “rally her followers against his publisher.”
Smith also questioned the motives behind McGinniss’ cross-country move, pointing out McGinniss's claim that, if he finds the information, he would write a “salacious book about Sarah Palin's sex life.”
Weigel, who started the Post’s “Right Now” blog after moving from the left-wing Washington Independent last April, has been criticized by conservatives for his treatment of major proponents of conservative principles, such as traditional marriage, all while covering the Post’s ‘conservative’ beat.
Despite Weigel’s claim to be sympathetic to conservatism, many conservatives have expressed concern over his role, claiming that open biases violate Washington Post guidelines against unfair reporting. These concerns proved to be legitimate, as Weigel tweetedthat same-sex-marriage opponents were “bigots” and then later apologized for his actions.
That wasn’t all. On May 1 Weigel tweetedabout Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge. He wrote, “I hear there’s video out there of Matt Drudge diddling an 8-year-old boy. Shocking.” Weigel later claimed it “was a joke about Matt Drudge linking, for more than 24 hours, to a National Enquirer story about President Obama having an affair.”