David Weigel and the Journalistic Fish

If you bother to read the dead tree media at all anymore, you’re aware of how quickly and uniformly the latest talking points and memes of the left make the rounds.   Sometimes it seems as if the same hand had written all the stories, merely changing a few words here and there for the sake of appearances.  Like a school of fish, they move in unison, acting for all the world as if they were guided by some hidden mastermind.  But there is no mastermind, nor is there any “conspiracy” to fix the daily slant.  Like the individuals in our school of fish, the editors don’t obey a single will.  They just act according to a common algorithm.  Whoever hacked David Weigel’s e-mail has now just given us an excellent opportunity to peak at the lines of source code in that algorithm.  We get to see, up close and personal, how the message is coordinated, or, to adopt the much more expressive term once used in Germany, “Gleichgeschaltet.”

For those of you who haven’t been following this story, it revolves around the “Journolist,” described by its creator, Ezra Klein, as ” An insulated space where the lure of a smart, ongoing conversation would encourage journalists, policy experts and assorted other observers to share their insights with one another.”  It was recently hacked by someone yet unknown, revealing the details of the “smart, ongoing conversation” to the rest of us.  Among other things, David Weigel, assigned to blog the conservative beat by the Washington Post, contributed such gems as,

There’s also the fact that neither the pundits, nor possibly the Republicans, will be punished for their crazy outbursts of racism. Newt Gingrich is an amoral blowhard who resigned in disgrace, and Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite who was drummed out of the movement by William F. Buckley. Both are now polluting my inbox and TV with their bellowing and minority-bashing. They’re never going to go away or be deprived of their soapboxes.

It’s really a disgrace that an amoral shut-in like Drudge maintains the influence he does on the news cycle while gay-baiting, lying, and flubbing facts to this degree.

…this need to give equal/extra time to ‘real American’ views, no matter how fucking moronic, which just so happen to be the views of the conglomerates that run the media and/or buy up ads.

In a word, Weigel didn’t exactly sympathize with the people he was supposed to be “objectively” covering.  Having been caught in flagrantihe resigned, releasing a string of groveling apologies in the process, such as,

I was cocky, and I got worse. I treated the list like a dive bar, swaggering in and popping off about what was ‘really’ happening out there, and snarking at conservatives. Why did I want these people to like me so much? Why did I assume that I needed to crack wise and rant about people who, usually for no more than five minutes were getting on my nerves? Because I was stupid and arrogant, and needlessly mean.

We are alarmed to learn that some of Weigel’s collaborators on the left are “outraged” by what has happened.  Striking the familiar pious poses, they are rediscovering their inner H. L. Mencken, wondering how anyone can be so lacking in common decency as to leak private e-mail conversations.  Like the Paris fashions, they shrug off ridicule.  For example, from Mark Shapiro,

I do not know Weigel (and actually do not remember most of his postings on JournoList), but I am outraged over what happened to him. It is one thing to castigate a reporter for the accuracy of his journalism or to deride a blogger for the rigor of his arguments. But it is morally repugnant to heist someone’s e-mail comments — and to leak them in a way designed to embarrass him with the people whom he is covering. The obvious and odious parallel would be to secretly place a tape recorder on a table at a dinner party and then to turn the most inflammatory sound bites into a podcast.

It’s enough to bring you to tears, isn’t it?  And, yes, in case you’re wondering, Shapiro’s remarks did include the de rigueur suggestion that the remarks were “taken out of context.”  I am not aware of Shapiro’s reaction to the hacking of Sarah Palin’s e-mail, or to the citizens who have recently assumed the right to reveal National Security Information as they see fit by virtue of their superior moral authority, but I rather suspect it was somewhat lacking in the bathos he managed to work up on behalf of Weigel.

Well, none of this can be too surprising to media connoisseurs.  We could have had more fun with the story ten years ago, when a handfull of journalists still had the chutzpah to claim that they were purely objective with a straight face, but I fear the breed has died out in the interim.  Meanwhile, in his post announcing the demise of Journolist, Ezra Klein predicts,

I’m proud of having started it, grateful to have participated in it, and I have no doubt that someone else will re-form it, with many of the same members, and keep it going.

And, sure enough, Son of Journolist has already made its appearance.  What can you say?  Chalk it up as one more data point, and leave it at that.

Author: Helian

I am Doug Drake, and I live in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. I am a graduate of West Point, and I hold a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin. My blog reflects my enduring fascination with human nature and human morality.

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