David Weigel was hired by the Washington Post to blog about conservative politics. Somewhere along the way, he was assumed to be conservative and support the "conservative movement" as it exists in today's political world. He says he never advertised himself as "conservative" just a reporter with an interest in what was going on in the conservative movement. He was positioned as the counterpoint to Ezra Klein's WonkBook, the progressive blogger and health care guru.
Klein originally set up an invitation-only e-mail list, JournoList, in 2007, to provide progressive bloggers and thought leaders with a place to kick around ideas, share resources and generally, talk about things the way friends would in a bar over a beer on Friday afternoon -- if they were in the same city. Discussion threads are not for publication, are generally without context, and are not things of great world import.
Yeah, well, until the conversations are overheard in bits and pieces and repeated and used against the folks blowing off steam and puffing themselves up at the watering hole. Last week, a DC blog posted excerpts of e-mails sent to this "private" list (as private as a list with more than one person can be). The whole point was to "out" Weigel as a hypocrite, posing as a conservative. The problem is that Weigel did no such thing -- the idiots at the WaPo, it appears, just "assumed" he was drinking the Kool-Aid in order to write about it. Howard Kurtz notes:
Weigel resigned, and wrote about his experience here. Ross Douthat provides thoughtful analysis here. Others piled on, including Tucker Carlson, who published more leaked e-mails on his site. But worst of all, it was only a matter of days before an offer of $100K was made for the JournoList archives. Andrew Sullivan hits the nail on the head (as he usually does):He was never hired as a conservative who would cover other conservatives. But the fact that many deemed him a counterweight to Klein's liberal blog put him in that box -- one that could have been avoided if The Post's Web site had managed to find a real conservative voice in recent years.
When Andrew Breitbart offers $100,000 for a private email list-serv archive, essentially all bets are off. Every blogger or writer who has ever offered an opinion is now on warning: your opponents will not just argue against you, they will do all they can to ransack your private life, cull your email in-tray, and use whatever material they have to unleash the moronic hounds of today's right-wing base.Whatever happened to the war of ideas? Now, politics is just war. And when your only goal is to beat the other side senseless without any idea of what you will do when you "win," everyone loses.