Chris Hayes, guest hosting on "The Rachel Maddow Show" Thursday, opened a segment with the words, "From the Department of Shameless Schadenfraude." Department of Feeble Attempts at Moral Equivalence would be more accurate. (video after page break)
The Washington Post announced Tuesday that it has hired Commentary Magazine contributing editor Jennifer Rubin to write a blog on the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
The move suggests that the Post has learned its lessons from the short run it gave blogger Dave Weigel, who resigned in June after emails surfaced showing him viciously attacking some prominent conservatives. The emails suggested that Weigel was hostile to large segments of the conservative movement, the beat he had been assigned to cover.
Dave Weigel might have changed jobs, but that's about all. Weigel, the one-time Washington Post blogger assigned to cover conservatives, but who actually bashed them on a regular basis, left the Post only to be hired by another Post-owned publication - Slate.
Now that he's at Slate, he's also up to his old tricks, comparing opponents of the Ground Zero Mosque to the czars who used to murder Jews by the thousands. Oh sure, he doesn't say that, but he does.
First, the pretend conservative complains about the "Greak[sic] Mosque Freak-Out of 2010" and how some Americans think Obama might be a Muslim. He then goes on to bash Powerline blog because they criticized Obama saying "he certainly isn't one of us." But Powerline was clear, saying that the reason some are befuddled by Obama's religion is those who are confused "interpret his aloof non-Americanism in this way."
At this point, we all know the Dave Weigel saga, which is as a so-called blogger for The Washington Post, he made some disparaging remarks about the people he covered as a conservative beat blogger.
That eventually led to his resignation at the Post and he addressed it on CNN's July 4 "Reliable Sources." Weigel was asked by host Howard Kurtz if in this day and age it was "an uncomfortable fit" for someone to have a lot of opinions and still be a blogger. And according to Weigel, there was despite attacks from what he called "partisan anti-media groups."
"I think there's room for it. I mean, but I think it's going to be the source of a lot of attacks from, you know, partisan anti-media groups who just want to score points against mainstream media organizations," Weigel said. "So, people have to be ready for that. You have to be ready to defend your opinions."
According toa July 2 article posted on RawStory.com by Ron Brynaert, there is an undisclosed connection between the Obama White House and the Post. Brynaert notesin the Post's July 2 report from Ed O'Keefe, the whopping $38.7-million payroll of the Obama administration reveals there are three people that aren't taking a salary, which O'Keefe fails to name. One of those is Patricia G. McGinnis, "Advisor to the Obama White House on leadership programs for Presidential Appointees." But there is more to McGinnis, which Brynaert pointed out. (h/t mattsheffield)
"McGinnis' Georgetown biography notesthat she "is the former President and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government, where she created and led a number of innovative programs to improve the performance of government, during her 14 year tenure" and also‘serves [as] a panelist and blogger for the Washington Post 'On Leadership' website.'"
This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a blogger.
Millions of bloggers, actually. And they are taking back freedom of the press from journalists unwilling and unable to use it in a fair and responsible manner.
A few weeks ago, we saw Helen Thomas confess her nutty anti-Semitism because a blogger caught her in an unusually candid moment. We found out what many have long suspected: that she's a disgusting bigot.
Then there was the Gen. McChrystal controversy as our top general in Afghanistan reportedly criticized the Obama administration to a Rolling Stone reporter. Blogger critics argued "The Runaway General" showed the journalistic beat system prevents warts-and-all portrayals such as this one. Reporters are often too cozy with sources to make them look bad. Adding to that ethical issue, The Washington Post followed with a story saying the reporter in this case might have violated rules about what would be off the record. Rolling Stone denied it of course.
But nothing got more press than the seemingly simple resignation of self-immolating Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel. Weigel was hired by the Post three months ago and continued his previous anti-conservative efforts with an attack on those "anti-gay marriage bigots" and making a joke about Matt Drudge "diddling" an 8-year-old boy. He was forced to apologize but remarkably kept his job.
Andrew Breitbart has found a simple remedy to at least some of the problems that ail contemporary journalism: cold, hard cash. Yesterday he offered $100,000 to anyone who will supply him with the full archive of JournoList, the email listserve that brought down Dave Weigel.
"$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save, " Breitbart wrote yesterday. Americans "deserve to know who was colluding against them," he added, "so that in the future they can better understand how the once-objective media has come to be so corrupted and despised."
And there's the rub: Breitbart is attempting to out liberal journalists as just that: liberal. His tactics and his objectives have been dubbed by some on the left as "digital McCarthyism," in the words of Michael Roston, "in which any of us could become the next Dave Weigel based not on the public output of our journalism, but based on our private sentiments."
Since I've been accused of leading "something of a crusade" against former Post blogger Dave Weigel, how could I resist this announcement? Weigel, who left the Post amidst a controversy where he bashed tons of conservatives, has joined the leftwing convention at MSNBC (video right).
According to a Tweet from "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann, Weigel has come on board as a contributor. "And confirming, @DaveWeigel is now MSNBC contributor @DaveWeigel Welcome aboard and my condolences, uh, congratulations!" wrote Olbermann.
Now Weigel has joined the team of Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz. This from the guy who just today told the world of his wonderful career saga that started out as editor of a campus conservative paper at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. "Was I really that conservative? Yes," he wrote, somehow expecting readers to believe him. While he admitted some of his troubles came from "hubris," much of what he wrote most already knew, that he was no friend to the right. "At Reason, I'd become a little less favorable to Republicans, and I'd never been shy about the fact that I was pro-gay marriage and pro-open borders."
Throw in Weigel's parade of assault on conservatives, prominent figures on the right from Rush Limbaugh to Matt Drudge and Newt Gingrich and the bigger question becomes, does he agree with the right on anything? The answer is: it doesn't matter anymore. He's gone from an organization fighting to keep its credibility to one fighting to lose what little it has.
One emerging narrative from the tale of Dave Weigel's resignation is the extent to which the journalistic left is insulated from opposing views. The two institutions involved, JournoList and the Washington Post, are exemplars of liberal epistemic closure.
Ezra Klein's now-defunct email list provided a forum for journalists to collaborate, as long as they were, in his words, "nonpartisan to liberal, center to left." No conservatives allowed. The Washington Post, meanwhile, hired Weigel, perhaps two notches left of center, to cover the right, while relying on Klein, a full eight notches left, to cover the liberal movement.
The scarcity of conservative views both on JournoList and in the Post demonstrate the insularity of political conversation among legacy media players. They apply intense scrutiny to conservatives, and fail in the most basic measures of introspection.
The inside-the-beltway media world was turned on its head with leaked e-mails that revealed Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel had some disparaging things to say about prominent conservative figures, including Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge and Byron York.
This ultimately resulted in Weigel's resignation. However, some of Weigel's antics have been previously raised by his critics, including Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor, who offered remarks to Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander.
UPDATE | Lachlan Markay - 6/25, 3:00 PM: A roundup of reactions from all over the blogosphere and twitterverse below the fold.
Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel resigned today after a host of offensive e-mails surfaced revealing his disdain for much of the right - the beat he was charged with covering. Fishbowl DC, which published a number of those emails yesterday, confirmed the resignation with the Post just after noon.
Yesterday I reported on leaked emails from Weigel to a listserve of liberal journalists bashing conservatives and conservatism - you know, the people Weigel is supposed to be covering. As bad as those email were, a plethora of messages from Weigel published in the Daily Caller take the conservative-bashing to a whole new level.
The new emails also demonstrated that yesterday's quasi-apology from Weigel was really not as sincere as he claimed. He said that he made some of his most offensive remarks at the end of a bad day. But these new emails show that there was really nothing unique about them, and that offensive remarks about conservatives really were nothing new or uncommon.
UPDATE - 6/25, 2:20 PM | Lachlan Markay :Weigel resigned Friday after the Daily Caller published a number of additional emails that put these to shame. Details here.
Many conservatives, including a number of NewsBusters contributors, have been skeptical of Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel since he was hired in March to cover the right. Time and again, those concerns have been vindicated as Weigel has ridiculed a number of conservatives and conservative positions.
It seems that the Washington Post has little interest in an objective blog-based approach to the news -- something this humble blogger has noted previously. Likewise, Weigel seems to have little interest in covering the right with an even hand; he has consistently shown his disdain for the movement and its members.
The website Fishbowl DC today published a number of excerpts of emails from Weigel to an email list created by fellow Post blogger Ezra Klein ridiculing various conservatives. He says he hopes Matt Drudge will "set himself on fire" and dubbed Tea Party protesters "Paultard[s]," a crude reference to Ron Paul.
It's the American way, right? It is patriotic to exercise the 1st Amendment by petitioning the government for a redress of grievances - unless of course your effort has a tie to some corporation or lobbying interest. Then regardless of its size, it's phony baloney Astroturf activism.
While groups like the George Soros-funded MoveOn.org have managed to elude the "Astroturf" moniker, from its inception, the Tea Party movement has taken shots from its critics. One of the most popular left-wing charges was to call it "Astroturf," meaning it was presented as a grassroots efforts, but wasn't really grassroots. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi labeled the Tea Party movement "Astroturf" back during the original Tax Day Tea Party protest on April 15, 2009.
"This initiative is funded by the high end - we call it Astroturf," Pelosi said. "It's not really a grassroots movement. It's Astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class."
That attitude has been widely echoed in media coverage of the Tea Party, as if it were a corporate effort to subvert the U.S. government's ability to collect revenue and redistribute wealth through public works and social program. Meanwhile, environmental causes, like Earth Day or global warming with their own corporate sponsorship - are rarely labeled Astroturf.
The Washington Post is making the transition from a powerhouse liberal newspaper to a network of powerhouse liberal blogs. While the paper's Old Guard is worried that the move will tarnish the Post's supposed reputation for political neutrality, it should be seen more as a embrace of the agenda the Post has evinced for years.
"Traditionalists," wrote Politico today, "worry that the Post is sacrificing a hard-won brand and hallowed news values." One such "traditionalist," Rem Rieder of the American Journalism Review, said a more openly-liberal approach to reporting, mostly done online in the form of various blogs, would be "a danger to the brand."
To the extent that the Post still pretends to be objective -- and to the extent that its readers believe that claim -- then yes, an opinion blog-centric approach is tarnishing the brand. But for those who acknowledge the Post' consistently liberal approach to the news, the only change is the way that that news is delivered.
This is how the Post covers the conservative movement: Find someone who doesn't even understand the traditional values that made our nation great and then assign him to report on the right. Throw in the fact that Weigel loves to bash conservatives and he's the ideal Postie. At the same time, the paper hired a hard-core lefty in Ezra Klein to advocate for the left. It's a ridiculous double standard. The Post should be both embarrassed and ashamed.
For his part, Lewis, a conservative writer, lamented that Weigel, whom he considers generally "accurate and fair," has taken to his Twitter feed to bash average Americans as "bigots" for working to protect traditional marriage in state law:
UPDATE: Weigel has officialy responded and 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. "For more details, read after the jump.
Even if it's a joke, it's shocking to have an employee of The Washington Post claiming a prominent conservative had sex with an 8-year-old boy. But that's what new Washington Post "Right Now" blogger Tweeted during Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner about The Drudge Report's founder Matt Drudge.
Fairly late in the evening, Weigel wrote this on his Twitter account: "I hear there's video out there of Matt Drudge diddling an 8-year-old boy. Shocking."
The post that followed it was a message to another blogger about what the National Enquirer claimed was an Obama sex scandal, so it appeared to be in that context. At least five people on Twitter repeated Weigel's comment about Drudge. There appeared to be no follow-up comment, explanation or apology.
Weigel, who started his "Right Now" blog at the Post a little more than a month ago, is known for sarcastic and sometimes funny comments on Twitter. Earlier in the evening, he had commented about having too much to drink. "Very cool. I either need to stop drunktweeting or do MUCH MORE drunktweeting." And the rest of his comments during the evening were in a similar sarcastic or goofy vein including photos of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow as a bartended at the dinner and a picture of himself in a tux where he commented, "I am ready to either party or wait your table. Or both!"
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.