Saturday, August 19, 2017
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A Few Thoughts on Dave Weigel

It looks like everyone else is weighing in on the firing resignation of Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel (over "scathing" emails on a "private" listserv), so I figured I might as well throw my 2 (or 3) cents in as well.

First off, the Washington Post's attempt to integrate bloggers into its business model and to make itself relevant in today's media world has taken yet another hit. It's all so confusing.

With bloggers such as Weigel, "I think The Post needs to decide what it wants to be online," said Dan Gainor, a vice president at the conservative Media Research Center. "Does it want to be opinion? Or, does it want to be news? The problem here was that it was never clear."
Good point. Personally, I can't really figure out what category to put many of these people into -- reporters? opinion writers? bloggers? "professional" journalists? objective? subjective? -- and that's probably because the Post is just as confused. Here in the political blogosphere, there are many faults you can point to, but at least we're honest about who we are - in our case, progressives who generally support the Democratic Party and its candidates.  What about the newspapers these days?  Do they know who they are and who they want to be?  Not as far as I can tell.

Second, the double standard here truly boggles my mind. As a wise friend of mine pointed out, if a conservative writer on the left-o-sphere had said that stuff on TV, they'd be fine (a la Michelle Malkin or Anne Coulter). Also, it's ok for the Washington Post to publish an outright climate change denier like George Will, but not to publish someone who said things that many (most?) people think about Matt Drudge and others? Of course, as Matt Yglesias points out, "obviously no organization that employs Charles Krauthammer on a regular basis can be counted on to exercise sound judgment in a consistent way."

Third, I agree with Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander that, ultimately, "Weigel bears responsibility" for his comments. Essentially, Dave Weigel probably should have known not to put such inflammatory material in written form on a (large) group listserv, unless he trusted each and every one of the listserv's members (including future ones) to keep that material private. Forever. Not something most of us would bet our career on, and, in the end, it was a mistake for Dave Weigel to bet his (although my guess is he'll end up back on his feet, soon enough).

Fourth, as much as Weigel "bears responsibility" for his comments, the individual who leaked those comments from a semi-private listserv did something really slimy here.  I certainly hope that person is "outed" at some point, and that are shunned from working in the "news" business - or as a blogger anyone takes seriously - ever again.  

Fifth, there's also the issue of the media outlets that published these leaked emails. Overall, I have mixed feelings on that subject: they certainly had the right to publish the emails, but I'm not sure they should have published the emails. It's a tough call, but the bottom line is that someone would have eventually published the emails, so it's probably futile to get angry at the "messenger".  

Sixth, it appears that there's no such thing as "private" listserv, Google group or email anymore (if there ever was). That's reality, but it's also unfortunate, as it crimps reporters' and bloggers' ability to talk "off the record," to compare notes, to bounce ideas around, to let off steam once in a while.  It's also another double standard; if you're an administration official and you tell Jake Tapper something at a cocktail party, it's assumed to be confidential.  Of course, there are many gray areas; just ask Stan McChrystal about that subject.  

Seventh, although Dave Weigel is extremely talented, he was in a tough position with this job (a liberal-leaning blogger/reporter covering the conservative blogosphere). In many ways, I find it amazing he lasted as long as he did. To cover a beat these days, does an individual have to be complete cipher, with no past writings or overt political leanings of any kind?  Is that realistic? I don't see how it is.

Finally, in the end, I guess my conclusion - and I take no pleasure in this whatsoever - is that you always have to think about what you say with everyone.  Essentially, if you don't want something in the headlines, you'd better not put in an email or group listserv.  Essentially, it's the "Panopticon" concept, and overall it's not a pleasant state of affairs. Yes, Dave Weigel exercised less-than-stellar judgment and gave ammunition to his enemies, but ultimately, this debacle flows from a system of absurd double standards, a pervasive and 24/7 news cycle where "public" and "private" are increasingly (and disturbingly?) blurred, a "gotcha" mentality if not outright viciousness, lack of accountability, and the gray zone between the "professional" media and the blogosphere. That, for better or worse, is the world we live in these days. As Dave Weigle just found out, the hard way.

Fimian: I’m Not “too conservative”; Herrity Will Be at Unity Dinner

On the Kojo Nnamdi Show this Friday, 11th CD Republican nominee Keith Fimian engaged in some unintentional (presumably) hilarity.  First, in response to a question about whether he's "too conservative" for the 11th CD, Fimian - who just finished running in the Republican primary as THE conservative, tea party candidate, pretty much to the right of Attila the Hun - now says that, oh no, he's not too conservative.  Uh huh.

Then, even funnier, is Fimian's eye-rolling praise for Herrity (as a "very fine guy...a beacon of hope in Northern Virginia"), his prediction that Herrity would be at a Republican "unity dinner" last night ("I certainly hope so, I expect that he will"), and his remark that he and Herrity are "very very similar in very many ways."  As to the "beacon of hope" and "very very similar" comments, that's just laughable given the bitter, divisive primary these guys just ran.  Sure, this is politics, but c'mon.  Even more amusing, regarding Fimian's expectation that Herrity would attend the "unity dinner," well...apparently he had better things to do with his time.

Herrity, though, will not be attending the 11th District Republican Committee's "Unity Dinner" Friday night, however. He said he's planning to head to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a family vacation
"This has been a long-scheduled vacation," Herrity said. "I wish I could be [at the dinner]."
In other words, the classic, "spend more time with my family" excuse. Great "unity" you got going there, Mr. Fimian!

By the way, if Fimian was so concerned about having Herrity at this "unity dinner," why didn't he...wait for it...check with Herrity about his schedule first?!? (e.g., rather than just unilaterally setting a date, calling it a "unity dinner," and trying to force Herrity to show). As I've said before, on top of being a right-wing extremist, this guy is simply not ready for prime time.

Weekly Address: “Finishing the Job on Wall Street Reform”

The full transcript is here.  No, this legislation - like any legislation - isn't perfect.  However, as the White House points out, it "reflects 90 percent of what the President originally proposed, includes the strongest consumer financial protections in history with an independent agency to enforce them."  It also "ensures that the trading of derivatives, which helped trigger the crisis, will be brought into the light of day, and enacts the 'Volcker Rule,' which will make sure banks protected by safety nets like the FDIC cannot engage in risky trades." Not too shabby. Great work by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and everyone else who worked on this bill!

Another Major Accomplishment for President Obama and the Democrats

Of course, there will always be people - I believe they're called "Republicans" - who won't give President Obama and the Democrats any credit for anything.  Despite that, this is yet another major accomplishment, in addition to all of these, by the 111th Congress and the Obama White House. Now, on to comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, plus comprehensive immigration reform, and this will go down in history as one of the greatest 2-year periods of legislative accomplishment in U.S. history.  See what happens when Democrats "grab a mop" to clean up the mess the Republicans made before we booted them out of office?

Perriello Blasts “Elites in the Senate” on Unemployment Extension #Fail

Of course, the real culprits are clear:
Millions of people who have been out of work across the nation for more than six months and hoping for an unemployment benefits extension are in for some bad news today.  

On Thursday, Republicans defeated the Democrats' showcase election-year jobs bill, including an extension of weekly unemployment benefits with a vote of 57-41. That was just three votes short of the 60 votes needed to pass the bill.

Thank you, elitist Republicans, who care more about welfare to huge corporations and tax breaks to the top 0.1% than about - as Tom Perriello puts it - "critically needed unemployment benefits to those out of work." Priorities, priorities.

“Harry Reid’s High Stakes Climate Gamble”

I just hope this succeeds.
First, 57 Democratic Senators walked out of a caucus meeting today sounding like they'd been to a summer blockbuster movie instead.  The meeting was thrilling and inspirational...


And within a few hours, we learn why Democratic Senators sound like 57 cats who hijacked the cream truck: Reid is making a high-stakes gamble on a climate bill.  Not a clean energy bill, but a climate bill to cap greenhouse gases...

As one commenter at Daily Kos points out, "I am sick to death of people playing politics with this. This is about our survival and our planet's survival. There is nothing political about this."  I couldn't agree more.

The bottom line is this: anthropogenic global warming is a fact scientists have known about for years now, with more evidence confirming it coming in almost every day. Also, even if there were no global warming, it is still imperative - for urgent economic and national security reasons - that we get off of oil ASAP. And it would still be advantageous for us to slash our natural gas and coal consumption, for both economic and local environmental reasons.  Adding in the environmental, economic and national security costs of global warming, and the case is absolutely overwhelming.  

In sum, even if you're a "climate change skeptic," there's still a strong case to be made for taking out an "insurance policy" in case climate change is really occurring, and if our failure to act now will lead to disaster in a few years down the road. And, even if you're a "climate change skeptic," why not move towards a new energy economy that will benefit us anyway?

I know, too many facts and too much logic for the Faux "News" crowd.  Speaking of which, can you imagine if the party line at Faux was that global warming was really happening?  Right now, you'd have 24/7 coverage of the incredible heat we're experiencing in our nation's capital.  Not to mention the record-setting warmth, month after month, we've been experiencing.  Remember how they mocked global warming during last winter's snowstorms?  Well, where are they now?  What ever happened to "fair and balanced?" Oh, I almost forgot, that's just a punchy marketing slogan with absolutely no connection to reality. Sorry for mentioning it. Heh.

MediaMatters Fact Checks Corey Stewart’s Faux News Appearance

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart was on the wingnuts' favorite network, Faux, earlier this week, and as usual, the network - and its guest - were, "challenged." In other words, they lied. To wit:

[C]o-host Steve Doocy and guest Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County, Virginia, board of supervisors, falsely claimed that the county's controversial immigration law reduced violent crime and has never been altered.  In fact, Prince William County's violent crime rates actually increased in 2009; the law was modified in 2008 to avoid legal challenges; and a University of Virginia study of the law shows that it has not led to a reduction in crime.
Other than that, the interview was spot-on accurate! Heh.  The real question is, why does anyone watch Faux News ("unfair and unbalanced," "we distort, you deride") other than for perverse entertainment value?

By the way, is Corey Stewart running for statewide office here in Virginia on an immigrant-bashing platform or what?!?

UPDATE: Another error -- Corey Stewart wasn't the one who came up with this law, "credit"  for that should go to these guys.  Corey's role was to push this throught, but FAIR actually wrote the law.

Perriello: “We, the people” is not “We, the foreign corporations”

From Rep. Perriello's office:
Congressman Tom Perriello's effort to protect U.S. elections from foreign influence achieved a significant victory today by passing the U.S. House as part of the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175). In the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which allowed for unlimited corporate spending in electioneering activity, Rep. Perriello introduced H.R. 4523, the Save Our Democracy From Foreign Influence Act of 2010, which would prohibit corporations with foreign shareholders from making contributions or expenditures in American elections. Today, the House passed by voice vote an amendment sponsored by Perriello to achieve a similar goal.
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