That’s the question I’ve been stewing over all day. Who is the gutless piece of crap who leaked Dave Weigel‘s Journolist emails to FishbowlDC and The Daily Caller? While I don’t know that person’s identity, I have a feeling it was someone a good deal less talented, and a great deal less honest, than Weigel.
Yeah, you could say I’m a little pissed off. Weigel is a friend of mine, sure, but we’re not BFFs. He’s a guy whose work I admire, and we’ve hung out a few times. I try to make friends with people who I can learn from, and Weigel is a good reporter who makes clean political analyses.
My friendship with Dave accounts for about half of my anger here, and none of my defense. This is an unmitigated loss for the Washington Post, and for the conservative movement. As he said when this brouhaha first began, Weigel’s reporting speaks for itself. I defy anyone to produce reporting and commentary on the right that even approaches his level of fairness and insight. I’m positive Weigel will land on his feet. He’s got talent, a fresh point of view, and he’s a hard worker. The Washington Post should have recognized this, and told him to tear up his resignation.
I also took a look at the excerpted emails that caused all the fuss, and I can’t find anything there that diverges significantly from things I have heard said in private by other journalists, and even by figures on the right. The notion that his comments reveal some anti-conservative bias is ridiculous. He makes specific, if unvarnished, criticisms that are backed up by facts, many of which have even been echoed by conservatives.
For example, I would love it if anyone on the right would step forward and claim Pat Buchanan as their philosophical leader. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? The guy is an embarrassment to movement conservatives, and a slaughterhouse worth of red meat to the left.
Weigel’s reaction to James O’Keefe is also not without conservative echo. In private, talk about the all-powerful Drudge often veers into irreverence. The key phrase here is “in private.” None of what Weigel said was ever meant for public view.
Given the fact that Journolist is (was) leakier than a summer camper with his hand in a bowl of warm water, it’s tempting to say that Dave Weigel is to blame for the Dave Weigel kerfuffle. Then again, you don’t stop going to bars just because one idiot can’t hold his liquor.
No, Weigel shouldn’t be blamed for thinking that his private emails would remain private. The Daily Caller and FishbowlDC will have to wrestle with their respective decisions to publish them, and while they seem to have answered the question of whether they could do it, the should is another matter, entirely. True, they weren’t part of the list, and thus not bound by the off-the-record promise. I would just point out that everyone involved had better hope they never sent an email they don’t want leaked, to someone who might later relish their comeuppance.
The same can be said of the leaker. Surely, Weigel must have some friends on the list, and surely those friends have some idea who might have betrayed him (and them). They don’t even need to be all that certain, just screw ’em all. Ezra Klein may have shut the list down, but he can’t reach into hundreds of email accounts and delete those histories.
That leads me to ask who did this, and why? I think my friend, Ed Morrissey, is on the right track here:
While I don’t think Dave has been unduly hostile in his reporting, he’s not exactly been cuddling up to the Right, either, but that may not be enough for someone on JournoList.
I would put it another way: Dave Weigel is guilty of being fair to the right. I’ve noted it several times here, and Keith Olbermann underscored the point on last night’s Countdown. Dave Weigel is a frequent guest on Olbermann’s show, and has morphed into the guy who talks Keith down from time to time.
From firsthand experience, I can tell you that this is wholly unacceptable to a huge portion of the left, who view as heresy any attempt to treat conservatives like human beings.
I would also guess that the leaker is someone who is frustrated by Weigel’s talent and relative success. As Ed points out, Dave is certainly not the most high-profile member of Journolist, but in an ego-driven town like DC, nobody likes the feeling of nipping at their heels.
Finally, in this click-driven business, it could just be someone who would like to be owed a favor by Matt Drudge. Let’s not forget that the genesis of this entire mess was a feudlet between Weigel and Drudge over an out-of-context headline.
This mysterious leaker, whoever he is, had better hope that a whole lot of people are better than he is at keeping a secret. I wouldn’t bet on it.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org