Recently hired Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, who wrote a great blog about the conservative movement for them, has resigned after some blunt private emails to his "friends" were released to the public. Nice going, everyone!
Full disclosure: I know Weigel and have long admired his work. He's not a "liberal," but he will call the conservatives he covers out if they lie or exaggerate for cheap, rabble-rousing political gain — calling Obama a Marxist or Hitler or someone who hates America, etc.
The Post never really understood why it hired Weigel. Liberal Post blogger Ezra Klein recommended Weigel to his editors as an honest reporter who could write about conservatives fairly, to counterbalance the slew of recently hired young liberals. The Post, which is still stuck in a meaningless worldview where "conservative blogger" means rabid, thoughtless wingnut who will approve everything Republicans or Tea Party activist do or say, did not realize that Weigel was something different — a non-partisan libertarian-leaning trained reporter who would give otherwise marginalized conservative activists their fair say in a mainstream outlet, but admonish them if they were speaking in bad faith.
Yesterday, the strangely vicious media gossip website FishbowlDC published some of Weigel's private, bitching emails from the exclusive web forum JournoList, mostly about how he wanted Matt Drudge to light himself on fire for lying about his response to an incident last week in which Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge assaulted a young conservative activist, on film. Weigel called the congressman's assault a "hug," not meaning it in a dismissive way at all, which didn't stop Matt Drudge from calling it dismissive anyway and blasting it as his top headline for an entire afternoon. And today, Tucker Carlson's conservative website the Daily Caller released more private emails with Weigel bitching even more.
Weigel should never have sent out these emails, no matter how safe he thought he was. It's 2010, Dave! Come on. But he probably understands this now, when it's too late.
Still, nice job, Washington Post. Now you can go hire National Review's Jonah Goldberg or some other Republican operative hack to write whatever untrue nonsense the Tea Party wants to hear on your next conservative blog, and journalism will be good again, even if the reporter knows it's bullshit.
UPDATE: The Post's liberal blogger Ezra Klein, who started JournoList on his own initiative three years ago and had been doing a pretty good job guarding against leaks until this, has now shut it down.