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Bar Talk, On the Record

June 25, 2010
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So it looks like Dave Weigel is gone from The Washington Post (I don’t know whether he resigned or was fired) because of some nasty stuff he said about some high-profile people on JournoList.  It remains unanswered whether he was let go because of some barstool insults or if he quit because he knows his credibility in covering the Right is irreparably damaged (conservatives will probably always remember him as the guy who said Matt Drudge should set himself on fire).

During Weigel’s tenure at the Post, I always found his job to be a little bizarre.  I didn’t regularly read him, but I always found his reporting to be pretty good.  It was certainly refreshing to read a non-conservative report on the Right from somewhere other a hostile perspective.  What’s weird is how tone-deaf his employers appear to be to the Weigel’s writing as well as the blogosphere in general.  Apparently, the WaPo hired him on Ezra Klein’s suggestion, thinking that they were getting an ideologically conservative reporter-blogger to complement the liberal Klein (it remains a mystery whether or not they actually tried to find out whether or not Weigel was ideologically conservative).  Why else would the Post, who employs Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and Kathleen Parker, hire another liberal full-time blogger?

As strange and absent-minded as that sounds, that’s what the situation appears to be.  I never cease to be amazed by the ineptitude of Big Media.  I still find it incredible that many of the best writers out there, liberal and conservative, don’t have columns at The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal because the big papers have to make room for Frank Rich and Peggy Noonan.  If CNN really wants a show with an intelligent back-and-forth between a conservative and a liberal — it seems like they were going for a non-thickheaded version of Hannity and Colmes — then why did they give it to a jerk like Elliot Spitzer and a culture warrior and and right-wing apologist like Kathleen Parker?  It looks like the WaPo walked into the Dave Weigel situation blindly, and maybe they think they got burned because they never knew what they had when they hired him in the first place.

The other strange part about this is obviously the leak.  Just who in the hell leaks stuff like this off of JournoList?  I don’t know anything about it, but presumably the people on it all know each other and speak to each other in confidence, like a nerdy sober version of barstool conversation on a Wednesday night.  You’d never tell your boss that the guy in the office next to you drinks at lunch, would you (provided he’s not going back to work blacked out of his skull having been slamming tequila shots at Buffalo Wild Wings because “You can’t get boneless wings for $0.60 apiece anywhere else!”)?  It’s just weird that anybody on the list would want to leak any of its contents to anybody not on the list, and it’s even weirder that anybody on the list would want to leak some of its more implicating moments (presumably) to the public.  Doesn’t that just foment the idea that the list is a place where liberals sit around and trash conservatives all day?  Is that something you’d want to be associated with?

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