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Dave Weigel's Resignation From Washington Post Divides Conservatives

4 years ago
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Friday's news that Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel had resigned amid controversy over his remarks about conservatives he covers caused sharp divisions among commentators on the right.
Some describe Weigel as a talented and hard-working reporter and say the flap is overblown. Others, like Dan Gainor of The Media Research Center, saw liberal bias in Weigel's coverage: "The Post brought in someone who tried to tear down conservatives and look at the right as if he were visiting a zoo."
The resignation stemmed from e-mail comments Weigel made on an off-the-record list-serv called "JournoList" -- essentially a forum for liberal reporters, bloggers and others to share tips and compare notes. Among other comments, Weigel referred to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as "an amoral blowhard," called Pat Buchanan "an anti-Semite," and characterized Ron Paul supporters as "Paultard Tea Party People," according to reports.

Weigel previously worked at the libertarian magazine, Reason, and covered the conservative movement for the liberal outlet, The Washington Independent. He joined the Post just three months ago.

His resignation attracted as much commentary about the Post as it did the blogger himself.
"I think it was more important for the Post to simply dispense with the notion that Dave was a conservative covering conservatives than to dispense with Weigel himself," said Mary Katharine Ham of The Weekly Standard. Radio host and law professor Hugh Hewitt added: "Someday the Post may actually hire a young conservative like Mary Katharine Ham . . . but disappointment that the paper tilts so far to the left shouldn't turn a minor flap into a major controversy."
Author and pundit S.E. Cupp said, "The Post was a little lazy in assuming that by adding Weigel to their roster they were getting a 'conservative voice.' He's great at what he does . . . which is chronicle the conservative fringe. But anyone who's read him closely knows he is certainly not a 'conservative voice.' "

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., editor in chief of The American Spectator, told me, "I thought he was a liberal. He had no sense of humor. Yet he did his job diligently."
As a rule, D.C. conservatives working in journalism were much more favorable to Weigel than were grassroots conservatives.
"David is a talented reporter with a penchant for snark and occasionally strong opinions. But first and foremost, he's my friend," said J.P. Freire of the Washington Examiner – one of the outlets savaged in a Weigel e-mail.
Those living outside the beltway, like conservative blogger John Hawkins (who blogs at Right Wing News), were harder on him. "Hiring a guy like Weigel to write something with 'Inside the conservative movement and Republican Party' in the title confirmed every stereotype conservatives have about the paper," said Hawkins.

Many conservatives interviewed said the notion of unbiased journalism is a charade. "If anything, this exposes the sham of 'neutrality' and tokenism of the mainstream media," said New Media strategist Patrick Ruffini.
Charade or not, Weigel was hired to cover a portion of the political spectrum underrepresented at the Post. The newspaper's own ombudsman noted that, "Weigel's exit, and the events that prompted it, have further damaged The Post among conservatives who believe it is not properly attuned to their ideology or activities. Ironically, Weigel was hired to address precisely those concerns."
HotAir's Ed Morrissey echoed that remark. "I'm actually surprised and disappointed that the Post didn't do more to defend Dave in this instance. The real problem . . . is the lack of balance in the paper's approach, and not any of the reporting that Weigel has done."

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