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David Weigel quits – and a debate begins


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Blogger David Weigel’s resignation from the Washington Post after emails he wrote disparaging conservatives were made public has touched off a raging Internet debate about journalistic objectivity and prompted Weigel’s fellow Post blogger, Ezra Klein, to shut down the listserve where Weigel expressed his opinions.

The Post, which stood by Weigel after his first emails from Journolist were published and Wiegel apologized on his blog “Right Now,” apparently changed its mind when a new batch surfaced Friday.

“Time to move on,” Managing Editor Raju Narisetti told POLITICO Thursday night. But Friday Kris Coratti, the Post’s spokesman, said: "Dave offered his resignation and we accepted it."

It was the second time an attempt by the Post to find a credible blogger to cover the right ended badly. In 2006, it hired Ben Domenech, founder of the RedState group blog, but allegations of plagiarism against Domenech quickly surfaced in the blogosphere, and he never started.

More recently, the Post has moved aggressively into the blogging space, hiring a cadre of young bloggers who had built their names at more opinionated sites, including Klein, Weigel and Greg Sargent. But while Klein has been presented from the start as a liberal voice, Weigel’s ideology was less clear. A former writer for Reason magazine, he describes himself as having libertarian tendencies, but having voted for Obama. Post National Editor Keven Merida told POLITICO’s Ben Smith last month that he had never asked Weigel about his politics.

Weigel declined to comment, but Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reported that Weigel offered his resignation Thursday night and heard from Post editors that his comments were not serious enough to cost him his job. It was only after the Daily Caller published more emails that Post editors decided Weigel’s position at the paper had become “untenable,” Stein wrote.

In the latest emails from the list, Weigel joked about wishing for the death of Rush Limbaugh and accused Republicans of "racism." A spokesman for the Daily Caller said the reporter had been working on the story on for several weeks. The site crashed after the Drudge Report linked to it.

In his post announcing the shuttering of Journolist, Klein noted that it was ironic that it would be the Daily Caller, which was founded by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson, that ended up publishing leaked Weigel’s emails from the listserv.

“A few weeks ago, its editor, Tucker Carlson, asked if he could join the list,” Klein wrote. “After asking other members, I said no, that the rules had worked so far to protect people, and the members weren't comfortable changing them. He tried to change my mind, and I offered, instead, to partner with Carlson to start a bipartisan list serv. That didn't interest him.”

Klein added that, while he didn’t regret starting the listserv in 2007, “ insofar as the current version of Journolist has seen its archives become a weapon, and insofar as people's careers are now at stake, it has to die.”

Let it twist slowly in the wind...
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