The problem with David Weigel

UPDATE2: This post was originally put up yesterday at 6 PM. Mr. Weigel wrote me and I asked a few questions that I am waiting for him to answer. The discussion that we have had is shown at the end of this post.

Original post:

Under the heading of "Losing a job to get ahead," Politico has this about David Weigel:

Two weeks almost to the minute after he resigned from his job blogging about the conservative movement for the Washington Post, David Weigel was back on the Washington Post Company payroll Friday morning, writing about the tea party for Slate.

In the interim, Weigel himself noted in a piece in Esquire Thursday, more than 500 articles were written about him, his downfall after the leak of his emails disparaging some conservative leaders, and what it all means for journalism. . . .

Weigel’s Stage 4 looks bright . . .

I guess that I am not so much bothered by a liberal covering conservatives as I am about other things about David Weigel.

1) He has consciously discussed how to filter the news so as to help mold voters' views. From the Daily Caller:

After Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat, threatening to kill the health care legislation by his presence, Weigel stressed how important it was for reporters to highlight what a terrible candidate his opponent Martha Coakley had been.

“I think pointing out Coakley’s awfulness is vital, because it’s 1) true and 2) unreasonable panic about it is doing more damage to the Democrats,” Weigel wrote. . . .

After Sarah Palin claimed Obama’s health care legislation included “death panels” that would ration health care, for instance, the Huffington Post reported that many Americans believed the claim was true. Weigel suggested that reporting on the subject might be counter-productive to liberal policy aims. The Huffington Post, Weigel pointed out, ran “a picture of Sarah Palin, linking to a poll that suggests 45 percent of Americans believe her death panel lie. But as long as the top liberal-leaning news site talks about it every single hour of every day, I’m sure that number will go down.”

“Let’s move the f*** on already,” Weigel wrote. . . .

2) Libertarians hardly walk in lockstep on issues, but I don't understand how this guy wrote for Reason for 6years and still serves as a contributing editor of Reason magazine and Reason.com. If he is a libertarian, how could Weigel be such a strong supporter of Obama's health care bill, financial regulations, and other Obama policies and an attacker of Ron Paul supporters as Paultards? I had a run-in with the guy two years ago over gun control, where he was strongly in favor of gun control. Obviously there is no litmus test for libertarians, but there seems to be a gulf between his private views and his publicly stated views that seems fairly large.

Libertarians surely don't need to personally like Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh or Matt Drudge or even Ron Paul, but I guess that it is the discussion of issues that I find most perplexing. I am just curious what the people at Reason see in this guy and whether their views have been impacted by the new information. Will what has been revealed about his views impact him continuing to be a contributing editor of Reason magazine and Reason.com?

Follow up: Here is the exchange that I had with Weigel about his recent activities.

Weigel writes me: "I don't support the health care bill." And he claims he wasn't personally advocating anything: "JournoList captured me saying what Democrats should do if they wanted to pass it, but like I've said in other venues, I am a know-it-all who offers advice like that all the time."

Yet, I am not sure how this fits in with his choice of words in his posts. I wrote him back:

The comment "Let’s move the f*** on already" also makes it seem as if you have a dog in the fight and were not simply providing friendly advice. Don't you agree? The problem is that it also fits in with the tone regarding the Coakley advice (“I think pointing out Coakley’s awfulness is vital"). Right? Why use the term "vital" if you weren't hoping for a particular outcome? Linking "vital" with stopping the "damage to the Democrats" seems partisan. If I was just providing friendly advice for people with whom I disagreed, I can't see myself using those terms, though you apparently think differently so I am asking.

If I get a response back from him, I will post it.

Mr. Weigel had something of an apology for his past inaccurate attacks on me: "I take you on your word that you had a legitimate issue and I failed to fully answer it, so I apologize if that was the case."

Note: Weigel has had multiple defenders. What interests me the most is that these defenders do not deal at all with the issue of Weigel discussing how to slant the news. Ross Douthat, with the New York Times, wrote: "Dave Weigel made the mistake of sending some off-color vents about his beat." Indeed, rather than dealing with how Weigel consciously advised other journalists how to tilt the news, Douthat asserted that Weigel "really is a good reporter." Andrew Sullivan notes that Weigel resigning is "A sad day for journalism." Sullivan expressed the problem this way: "I find the idea of journalists not being able to vent in any way they like in private to be depressing." Other defenders of Weigel's include some who have real problems with honesty including Julian Sanchz: "the pearl outside the Post's sty."

UPDATE: Politico lists Weigel first on its list of media stars.

“Weigel is a reporter at heart, and that’s what distinguishes him,” Ambinder told POLITICO. “He obviously has a perspective, but unlike a lot of other people, who are perspective first, reporter second, he’s reporter first, perspective second.



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