Dave Weigel Just Wanted to Be Liked


Former Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel, who resigned last week after his leaked off-the-record JournoList e-mails revealed that he had some not-nice things to say about the conservative movement he covered, is now telling his side of the story. Interestingly, he's doing it on Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism website — perhaps as a way to make amends for suggesting that Breitbart ally Matt Drudge set himself on fire. Or maybe the venue was chosen as a self-consciously un-liberal venue for any alleged liberal to vent. Because Weigel is no liberal!

I interned at the libertarian Center for Individual Rights in the summer of 2001. I supported the Iraq War and crashed an anti-war protest on my campus. I voted in Republican primaries in 2002 and 2004. (Since I was in Illinois, I voted in 2004 for Jack Ryan to get the GOP’s nomination for Senate, to oppose Barack Obama. I’m better off than one of those guys.)

But though Weigel maintains that he has always "cared more about finding out stories first than about advocating positions," he insists that he's not trying to "explain away" his e-mails. In fact, he's pretty harsh on himself.

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.

He just wanted to be liked. And on the Internet, for some reason, that means snarking and being arrogant, as most any Internet discussion board or comment thread would confirm. Of course, we're all a little bit meaner behind closed doors, and the leaking of the e-mails was the real outrage here, not Weigel's private meanness. "No one who works in politics or journalism would accept a situation where the things they said off the record could immediately become public," Weigel writes. And, usually, they don't. Weigel was unlucky to be the one who got screwed over and serve as a reminder for every other journalist that nothing they say in private correspondence is ever really private. But he'll be okay. "I’m talking to a few media companies about what I’ll do next," Weigel writes. "Anyone who wanted to force me out of this business will have to settle for the consolation prize of me having to tediously inform sources of a new e-mail address."


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