Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Olbermann on the Weigel Fiasco

Keith Olbermann called the Washington Post and the woman who revealed those private emails from Dave Weigel the worst persons in the world late last week. He offered an eloquent defense of Weigel that is spot on. I’ll paste the full transcript below the fold.

OLBERMANN: But our winners the manager at the Washington Post, a Betsy Rothstein of Fishbowl D.C. and Tucker Carlson of the website Daily Caller. Dave Weigel who’s been a frequent guest on this program since he was with the Washington Independent is now no longer affiliated with the Washington Post. Ms. Rothstein posted a series of Weigel’s private emails from one of the private listservs run by Ezra Klein that is also a guest on this program often. Mr. Carlson then posted more of the private emails.

None were complimentary to the conservatives that Weigel has covered for his own blog, for the Right Now blog at the Post and for us. Today, Dave resigned from the Post. Rothstein and Carlson define what it is to not understand the concept of private but at the heart of this is the Post.

Ben Smith of Politico quotes Post national editor Kevin Merida’s web chat in April. He was asked if the post would be “adding more conservative/Republican voices to better balance what is now your predominately liberal/Democratic leaning coverage?” Merida answered “[W]e recently have added to our staff the well-regarded Dave Weigel, and also mentioned columnists Kathleen Parker and Charlies Krauthammer.”

Somebody at the Post and most of the people critical of David Weigel today seem to be under the impression that to cover conservatives you have to be one and you cannot be critical of them, even in a private setting. Nonsense. Weigel was a blogger and he made no bones about it, offered a subjective but thoroughly reported view of the conservative world and on occasions, on this program defended conservatives when he’d thought I’d gone too far in criticizing them.

We asked Dave to join us tonight. He didn’t want to. He wanted to take the high road. It’s too bad the Washington Post and especially Fishbowl D.C. and the Daily Caller did not. We will keep asking Weigel back because he does a hell of a job, a unique and an invaluable one.

He is absolutely right about Weigel being endlessly fair-minded. Whatever his private opinions, he was always very careful not to overstate the case and to correct others when they criticized those very conservatives he was covering without having the evidence to support those criticisms.

One example: In the accusations against James O’Keefe for allegedly manning a booth handing out racist literature at a conference in Washington, Dave was very careful to note that while he did see O’Keefe at the conference, he did not see him behind that table. This is contrast to the more strident folks, one of whom commented on this blog in the discussions of the situation, who accused him of selling racist literature only because they had seen him “sitting at or near” a table that held it.

He also defended Rand Paul during the brouhaha over the civil rights bill, pointing out that his objections were not necessarily racist, that there is a coherent — even if wrong — idea behind that opposition. The fact that he took that position stemmed from a philosophy that was not necessarily racist, Dave pointed out.

Weigel is the best kind of example of how one can and should remain rational and committed to accuracy while still holding an opinion. And the post should be ashamed of their own cowardice in not defending him on those grounds.