Monday, June 28, 2010

The Washington Post "Journolist" Scandal

Since I live so close to the echochamber that is Washington DC, I had myself sorta convinced that the Washington Post "Journolist" scandal was something only folks in these parts were following.  My recent web-meanderings leave me convinced otherwise. 

To review: last year, the Post hired a young man named "Dave Weigel" as a blogger/reporter to "cover" the conservative movement in the United States.  Many conservatives treated this development with concern, as there is an almost reflexive tendency among the right today to believe in mainstream bias against the them. Note please--Weigel was not hired to provide "commentary"--he was hired as a reporter.

Last week, it seems a bunch of emails Weigel wrote on a 400 person list-server called "Journolist" run by WaPost "Commentator" Ezra Klein were leaked--in them, Weigel displayed open animosity to the right, the Tea Party movement, basically anything having to do with the things he was supposed to be neutrally covering.  This situation led to Weigel being fired by the Post on Friday.

Conservatives are up in arms all over the interwebs, and with justification.  The sense that the MSM is biased against the right is pervasive, and it seems that sometimes even the paranoid have something to be worried about.  That there would be this shadow network of reporters sharing their thoughts and biases with each other--and in Weigel's case---openly trying to impact the coverage of stories by other reporters, strikes many as simply emblematic of the problem with the MSM.   So far, the reactions I've seen from the left, Klein and others consist mainly of bemoaning the leaking of private emails.  No insightful look into the dark heart of journalism, no real sense that what they were doing--or at least what Weigel was doing--was wrong.

Ann Althouse's blog is covering this things pretty well in and among a lot of other pretty funny and interesting things. 


Mudge said...

There is this widespread misconception that the media is this body of professionals with a code of ethics that keeps their reporting integrity tightly tethered to the track of objectivity. And that misconception exists no more intensely than within the media themselves. They are convinced that it is they who protect the endangered First Amendment from mere citizens who would prefer to hear truthful reporting. They lavish themselves with awards for decidedly subjective reporting (how long until Rolling Stone sees its Pulitzer for the McChrystal article?). But the reality is that, self-deluded as these products of liberal education may be, they serve a decidedly capitalistic master. If their papers don't sell, if their broadcasts can't lure financial backers, they are relegated to the local alternative lifestyle tabloid as a contributing columnist (when they aren't busy waiting tables). So what am I getting at? Look, if you read the Washington Post, if you contribute in any way to their profit margins, you are, in essence, casting your vote for them to continue their profitable behavior. So, like the increasing numbers of people now suffering from voters remorse for having momentarily abandoned all rational thought while casting a vote for Obama back in 11/08, readers of such news outlets' products really have little (credible) room to gripe. If it is so intensely annoying, then vote with your money and go to another outlet who has subjective coverage more to your liking (like the world-famous blog: The Conservative Wahoo) or one that does a better job of keeping itself "balanced." Good luck with that.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

Mudge--as usual, superb.

"The Hammer" said...

This story was all over Drudge, so it's not just a local story. But are you surprised? I'm not. I'd be surprised if he were somewhat objective, but then again he wouldn't have his job if that be the case.
What you're seeing in the old media is a wounded lion. With the rise of the internet, AM radio and especially Fox they are no longer a monopoly. It frightens them and they have crossed the line into advocacy.
I've always believed when someone has power, and gets used to it with all its privileges, they will never voluntarily give it up and in fact will do anything and I mean anything to keep it. The old media and the liberal establishment are one in the same and they're not going to go quietly.

Sally said...

Kind of beside the point, but why did the Post need to hire a reporter to cover conservatives? Was one hired to cover liberals? Of course not - that wouldn't even occur to them because of who they are. Isn't that alarming in itself? Why isn't some serious news person, one who is fair, asking that question?

R. Thorn said...

On a related note...
The other McCain says,

"One of the reasons why there are so few conservatives in America's newsrooms is because the profession of journalism is relentlessly derided by those who claim to speak for the conservative cause. No kid who grew up listening to talk radio could possibly believe that becoming a reporter is a worthy ambition. (To be a talking-head pundit on cable TV, yes; to be a mere reporter, no.) And this blanket condemnation of journalism qua journalism is sufficiently broad enough to encompass . . . well, me."

Might the same be said for government service also?

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