My friend and former colleague Dave Weigel resigned from the Washington Post after someone leaked emails he sent to a private listserv. Until today, Weigel wrote a popular and well-respected blog about conservative movement. It all came crashing down because some hater leaked a few curmudgeonly remarks about the kings of right wing media: Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck.
I find it amusing that journalists are supposed to know everything and everyone on their beats and somehow refrain from evaluating the characters of the people they cover.
If you’re a crime and courts reporter, you are not obliged to believe in your heart of hearts that convicted rapists and murderers are as decent as the next person.
If your beat is teeming with racist conspiracy theorists you should distrust and disapprove of lot of the people you write about. If you refuse to allow yourself to believe they’re unreasonable and malicious in the face of overwhelming evidence, you’re not objective, you’re deluded.
When the emails came to light, right wingers screamed bloody murder and cited the emails as proof that Weigel couldn’t cover the conservative movement objectively.
You want objectivity? Assholes exist. This is an objective fact, perhaps the most objective fact you will read today. The world is objectively full of liars, bigots, gladhanders, back-stabbers, kooks, cranks, and sleazeballs. If you cannot recognize them, you are a lousy reporter. It’s not always appropriate or productive to call them out in so many words; but that’s what cranky private emails are for.
Familiarity breeds contempt. Dave Weigel knows more about the conservative movement than just about any journalist working today, so when he says Matt Drudge, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are the scum of the earth, that’s knowledge, not opinion.