Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dave Weigel Flap and Why You Watch What You Write to Complete Strangers

The scandal du jour in the press concerning Dave Weigel has journalists--who claim superhuman strength to separate their personal biases from reporting--up in arms.

The bareboned facts of the story are this: Weigel was (past tense) a reporter supposedly covering the Republican Party. Weigel's contempt for the GOP was palpable, and some intemperate comments on the leftwing list serv Journolist prove it.

Now we're being told that e-mails to that list were and should be considered private, and that it is unfair that Weigel's nasty remarks have cost him his job. Unfortunately, I can't really have any sympathy for a guy who makes his living as a writer, specifically a writer on the internet. How anyone can correspond on computers and think it's like calling your buddy late at night is beyond me. There's nothing secret that you say in internet forums, period. And that includes wishing people dead for disagreeing with the president. Weigel likes to use the term "ratfucking" when discussing Republicans. Seems to me he's the ratfucker that's been ratfucked.

UPDATE: After reading that asshole TBogg, I have even less sympathy for David Weigel. After all, according to nutbag TBogg, an important part of journalism is digging dirt on whoever you're covering. Sadly, that dirt seems to only hit Republicans (a coincidence, I know), and Weigel's donkey pom-pons prove it. Even some on the right argue that Weigel separated his ideology from his writing, but I'm a big consistency buff, and I doubt conservative reporters who ranted about their whacko subjects (and stratagized about spinning events for the GOP) would be given the same leniency. We've seen it before, after all.

UPDATE: I suppose the real lesson here is that "off the record" is meaningless, for generals and for journalists.