The title of the latest blog post from the WAPO’s Ombudsman Andrew Alexander reads; “Blogger loses job; Post loses standing among conservatives.”

Alexander makes an incorrect assumption that the Weigel incident caused the Post to lose standing among conservatives. He doesn’t realize it has been a long time since the Washington Post had much of a standing among conservatives, and the nasty comments of one liberal blogger didn’t make it worse.

The Ombudsman’s post goes on the speak about the “resignation” of Post blogger Dave Weigel, who’s job at the WAPO was to write about the conservative movement. Unfortunately for Weigel, he was also an active member of a progressive discussion group, and sent plenty of emails disparaging the same conservatives he was covering. When some of those emails were leaked and published, he resigned.

Mr. Alexander candidly describes the last 24 hours:

“Weigel bears responsibility for sarcastic and scornful comments he made in e-mails leaked from a supposedly private listserv called “Journolist,” started in 2007 by fellow Post blogger and friend Ezra Klein. Weigel’s e-mails showed strikingly poor judgment and revealed a bias that only underscored existing complaints from conservatives that he couldn’t impartially cover them.

.. given the disdainful comments in his e-mails, there is the separate question of whether he was miscast from the outset when he was hired earlier this year.”

Raju Narisetti, the managing editor who oversees The Post’s Web site, said Weigel called him last night and offered to resign after Fishbowl D.C. initially revealed some damaging e-mails. Narisetti said Weigel alerted him that another Web site, the conservative Daily Caller, planned to disclose more e-mails today.”

I am a member of two conservative blogger/ journalist lists similar to the liberal one that got Weigel in trouble. Among the members of each list there is a strict understanding of “omerta,” what’s said on the list stays on the list. So there is some compassion for Weigel because someone broke his trust.

The incident points to something all of us forget at one time or another.  While blogs are meant to be public, other means of communication are wrongly assumed to be private, twitter, facebook, and most particularly, email, can get one in hot water as much as a blog post, or an interview with a reporter from Rolling Stone.

Mr. Alexander’s Ombudsman explanation of the incident, points to the fact that Washington Post editors are living in a fantasy world. Just look at final paragraph of the Ombudsman’s post.

“Alas, it took only one listserv participant to bundle up Weigel’s archived comments and start leaking them outside the group. The result is that Weigel lost his job. But the bigger loss is The Post’s standing among conservatives.”
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One set of nasty comments from a liberal blogger does not lower the standing of the Washington Post among conservatives.  The ever-present liberal bias of the Washington Post causes it to lose standing.

Alexander’s predecessor as Ombudsman Deborah Howell, wrote a column admitting that the WAPO’s coverage of the last presidential election was biased.

“The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.”

In another column two weeks later she said

But some of the conservatives’ complaints about a liberal tilt are valid. Journalism naturally draws liberals; we like to change the world. I’ll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don’t even want to be quoted by name in a memo
…The opinion pages have strong conservative voices; the editorial board includes centrists and conservatives; and there were editorials critical of Obama. Yet opinion was still weighted toward Obama. It’s not hard to see why conservatives feel disrespected.
…Our aims are pure, but our execution sometimes is not. Staff members should feel in their bones that unfairness will never be tolerated.”

According to the late Ms Howell, conservatives on staff feel it is conservatism this isn’t tolerated, for want of a better term; they are “in the closet.” One can’t blame them, at times the Post doesn’t so much as report about Democrats, as they glorify them, as witnessed by this famous paragraph in a December 2008 article about the President.

“Between workouts during his Hawaii vacation this week, he was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions. The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.”

Conservatives didn’t move away from the Washington Post because of one left wing blogger who had the unfortunate luck of joining a discussion group whose membership included an informer. We moved away because the WAPO’s reporters were blinded by the “glint of the sun of the President’s sculpted pectorals, leaving the paper with a skewed editorial product.