Journalistic Ethics Cluelessness: Weigel, Outrageous Bias, and the Washington Post

There can be no doubt : the main-stream media is so ideologically biased that it can’t recognize obvious bias anymore, even when it undermines its credibility. That is the only conclusion one can reach from the amazing story of David Weigel, who was awarded a Post website blog to write about “inside the conservative movement.” David Weigel, as his recently leaked e-mails to a mailing list shows, detests conservatives, conservatives views, positions, commentators and leaders. He does so not in a possibly manageable “there are evident problems with the extremists in this movement and some of its underlying philosophy” fashion, but it a “I hate these morons and wish they’d all die” way, which is exactly the sentiment many of his messages convey.

Giving someone like Weigel the role of reporting on conservatives is exactly as responsible and fair as letting Michelle Malkin cover the progressive movement, asking Senator Inhofe to cover climate change developments, asking Gloria Allred to keep us up-to-date on the life of Tiger Woods, or giving Helen Thomas the assignment of covering Israel. And yet that is exactly what the Washington Post did.

Oh, Weigel apologized once his comments were published, and he has since resigned, but how could he possibly accept that job in good faith? “I’ve always been of the belief that you could have opinions and could report anyway,” he told the Daily Caller. Sure you can…if your opinions are fair and moderate, if you have an open mind, and if you are capable of respecting those with whom you disagree. The leaked e-mails show that Weigel’s opinions and mindset embodied none of these qualities. The result? He defended Bob Etheridge’s assault on a young man who asked him a question on the street, because the student might have been pursuing a conservative agenda. That is what virulent bias can do.

Andrew Alexander, the Post’s ombudsman, on his blog, manages to demonstrate the Post’s astounding lack of self-awareness of its own biases even while criticizing the paper for hiring Weigel for a job he was obviously (well. it should have been obvious, except that those who hired him are probably as biased as he is)unable to do fairly or well. He writes, ” Given the disdainful comments in his e-mails, there is the separate question of whether he was miscast from the outset when he was hired earlier this year.” Question? QUESTION??? What’s the question? The Post hired a far-left hater of all that is conservative to report on conservatives. Alexander thinks there’s a question whether this is the fair and objective thing to do, and he’s  supposed to be the Post’s ethics watchdog.


Alexander concludes with this damning jaw-dropper:

“In the meantime, Post managers would be wise to remind all staffers that personal opinions, expressed privately on listservs or through social media, can prove damaging if made public.”

That’s right. That’s the conclusion of the Washington Post ombudsman. If you are biased, make sure nobody finds out about it.

That is the mainstream news media’s interpretation of “objectivity.”

8 thoughts on “Journalistic Ethics Cluelessness: Weigel, Outrageous Bias, and the Washington Post

  1. Pingback: Rolling Stone Broke Journalistic Ethics In Publishing McChrystal Remarks « Start Thinking Right

    • Michelle’s too wild-eyed for me, and I’m afraid Inhofe is an idiot. Saying that God will save us from climate change is just embarrassing. I’ll refrain from saying that it’s dumb to think that, but it is undeniably dumb to say it. Next he’ll say that God would never allow another oil spill, another terrorist attack, or another Yankee World Series win. Challenges to global warmist propaganda would be a lot more credible from someone who seemed to be able to read Scientific American without moving his lips.

  2. At the end of the day, I think Dave Weigel got fired because he was seduced by the “exclusivity” of JournoList, and bared his soul there.

    Baring one’s soul on the Internet, no matter how exclusive you think it is, is never a good idea. The Internet has a virtually eternal memory, and anything you write on it can and will be used against you.

    In a larger sense, though, he Washington Post is clearly either unserious about its purported desire to produce the conservative equivalent of Ezra Klein’s blog, or so blinded by their own bias that they can consider a left-leaning libertarian (who apparently has all the open-mindedness of a Daily Kos diarist) a suitable person to write a blog about the political Right.

    By all accounts, Dave Weigel is a very good blogger and an old-fashioned, hard-working reporter type of guy. The fact that he got fired from this gig has almost nothing to do with how good he is at his job, though. It has everything to do with the perception of how fair he is, not how fair he actually is. That impression has been informed by his intemperate comments on JournoList, and revealed by a fellow center-leftist.

    Speaking of that, how unethical is it to agree to keep an email list private, then disclose certain emails to embarrass a member? No matter what you think of JournoList (and I don’t think much of it, and am glad it’s dead for the nonce), that’s just all kinds of wrong.

    Finally, what sort of insanity possessed the Post to essentially allow a leftist like Ezra Klein to name their “conservative” blogger? That’s like letting Sean Hannity name your liberal blogger — a bad idea that should be obvious to everyone. The Post’s unethical actions are the same as they have always been — a failure to acknowledge their own ideological blindness and biases. They consider themselves too pure to be anything but totally objective.

    How’s that working out for ya, WaPo?

    • All correct, Glenn. The Post has lost its way ethically, which is ironic, since it is by far more even-handed these days than the Times, and the most unbiased on its editorial page it has been in the last 40 years.

      I presume that the one who leaked the e-mails would claim whistle-blower status, like those who hacked into the East Anglia database. I agree with you: leaking the messages was unethical in the extreme. That online mailing list has been shut down by Klein.

  3. Dear Jack: I’m afraid “Scientific American” wandered off the straight science reservation a long time ago… and well before the University of East Anglia did. I used to read it when it was a respectable magazine. But that was before politics and junk science intruded. As one professor wrote to them (upon cancelling his subscription) “your magazine is neither scientific nor American”. Most popular science periodicals reflect this, too. But SA was supposed to be hard science. No longer.

    Naturally, you’re entitled to your opinion about Mrs. Malkin and Senator Inhofe! I just don’t share it. S’okay!

    • We agree about SA, though, Mark. We used to read it as high school science assignments; I was shocked the last time I picked up an issue. “Dumbed down” doesn’t do justice to what the magazine has become.

  4. I’m “Steve”… “Jack”! Unfortunately, SA was already going downhill before it went over to its present glossy “science-for-the-layman-Discovery Magazine-clone” format. It’s notable that this magazine endured for about a century and a half as a straight science journal… and an internationally respected one. It’s as though the Saturday Evening Post had morphed into Tiger Beat. My God… maybe it did!

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