The Court Eunuch Standard Of Blogging Exposed By Dave Weigel's Resignation

As many may be aware, Dave Weigel, a reporter for the Washington Post, resigned after emails to a private listserv called Journolist were publicly rel

As many may be aware, Dave Weigel, a reporter for the Washington Post, resigned after emails to a private listserv called Journolist were publicly released. These are the things he wrote which cost him his job:

•"This would be a vastly better world to live in if Matt Drudge decided to handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire."

•"Follow-up to one hell of a day: Apparently, the Washington Examiner thought it would be fun to write up an item about my dancing at the wedding of Megan McArdle and Peter Suderman. Said item included the name and job of my girlfriend, who was not even there -- nor in DC at all."

•"I'd politely encourage everyone to think twice about rewarding the Examiner with any traffic or links for a while. I know the temptation is high to follow up hot hot Byron York scoops, but please resist it."

•"It's all very amusing to me. Two hundred screaming Ron Paul fanatics couldn't get their man into the Fox News New Hampshire GOP debate, but Fox News is pumping around the clock to get Paultard Tea Party people on TV."

I've spent some time reading around the web, and the main criticism of Weigel seems to be that he wasn't impartial: not only didn't he like the right wing folks he was covering, he despised them.

This is exactly what is wrong with US journalism. The responsibility of reporters is not to be "impartial", their responsibility is to tell the truth. Should reporters have been unmoved by the fact that that Bush was torturing people? Should that not bother them as people? Should they be unmoved by the fact that Obama is still torturing people? Should they be unmoved by the fact that Bush sold a war based on lies, and millions of people were displaced, killed and injured as a result?

Is that we want? Sociopaths who have no personal opinions?

Weigel isn't being attacked because he wrote anything in his public work which wasn't true, because he didn't write any such thing. As Friedersdorf writes, his public work was of the highest quality and that should be the only thing which matters.

I'll defend to death, however, the proposition that the work of a journalist should be the only standard by which he is measured. Mr. Weigel's work is superb: he breaks news, his foremost loyalty is to the facts, and he reliably treats fairly even folks with whom he very much disagrees...

...Firing Dave Weigel incentivizes more digging into the personal opinions of journalists, and validates the idea that they should be judged on the basis of those opinions, rather than the content of their work. What's next? E-mails sent to a few people and leaked? Opinions offered at a bar over beers and surreptitiously recorded? Can I reiterate how glad I am to have moved away from Washington DC? (You should hear what I say about De Beers in private!)

If you taped everyone's conversations, and intercepted all their emails, the very few people who could not be hung by their own words, who have never said anything that doesn't sound bad, are exactly the people you don't want as reporters or bloggers.

People who are either so self-controlled they never say anything intemperate, or so passionless they have no beliefs that get them riled up are the sort of folks who have nothing useful to say: the sort of folks who don't challenge a President who wants to attack a country which never attacked the US, has nothing to do with 9/11 and has no weapons of mass destruction.

This standard, the "court eunuch" standard, is exactly why you have a press corp that is worthless for holding those in power responsible. People with no strong beliefs, or whose ambition or fear is so great they never express those standards strongly, are the sort of people who know that bucking a President isn't good for your career, and so who cares of hundreds of thousands of people die because you're a gutless careerist?

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