Friday, June 25, 2010

Dave Weigel

On David Weigel's resignation

A number of readers have asked me for my reaction to the resignation of Dave Weigel, who until today was the author of the blog Right Now, which covered the conservative movement for The Post. And since the liberal blogosphere, which is one of the subjects of my blog, is strongly criticizing the Post over this, I thought I should say something.
To me, the core question is this: Did The Post ask or pressure Weigel to resign?
If so, it would mean the paper was caving to conservative pressure to remove him, for offenses that are arguably less serious than ones committed by other media figures who continue to enjoy employment throughout the industry. For those who haven't followed the controversy, Weigel was caught disparaging prominent members of the movement he covers in private e-mails.
Here's the comment that Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti is giving to me and other reporters: "Dave offered his resignation and we accepted it."
I have no reason to believe that Weigel didn't offer his resignation of his own accord. I saw him last night and got no indication he was being pressured to leave in any way.
Yes, The Post accepted his resignation, so in this sense he was let go. I would have preferred that he stayed. But my sense is that this decision was initiated by him and him alone. If I thought or knew otherwise, I'd say so. You may not believe me because I work here; if so, well, so be it. And if it's proven otherwise, I'll gladly admit I was wrong.
To be clear, I think it was dumb on his part to pop off in those e-mails, if only because it risked giving the right ammo against him. But I don't believe what he did justifies the right's calls for his firing. And those of you who know me should know that I believe that it's possible to have opinions and to care about what happens in politics -- to prefer one outcome to another -- while still doing journalism with integrity.
So this isn't about whether Weigel could have continued to be fair, accurate and professional. I have no doubt that he could have.
But if he thinks that his relationship to the movement has become so tainted that he'd have a tough time with sources, if he believes he's become the story to a fault, and if he thinks he could cover other political beats more effectively, then he did the right thing in giving up the blog. And I believe this is what happened.
Weigel is a talented reporter and a great blogger, and won't have trouble flourishing in this profession. His departure also shouldn't preclude The Post from hiring someone who covers the conservative movement every bit as aggressively as he does, which I hope The Post will do.

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