The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The W-Word: Fringe Journalism Is Fun!

Posted on | July 1, 2010 | 52 Comments

Yes, the W is for “Weigel,” which term seems to have become as offensive (or boring) to some readers as “epistemic closure” or even “Elena Kagan Sex Tape” — the latter being a sort of satire of Rule 5, for which Marty Eisenstadt disclaims any responsibility.

Summer is a great time for blog-fights because traffic always goes down during the summer anyway, and you might as well be in a pissing match as trying to get people to pay attention to politics on the cusp of the Fourth of July. (Why do you think Pat Leahy scheduled the Kagan hearings now, anyway?)

This summer’s Weigelian Götterdämmerung generated some interesting spin-offs, including John Hawkins’ feud with David FrumDan Riehl’s kiss-my-ass to the D.C. Republican establishment, and Andrew Breitbart’s $100,000 “Let’s Make a Deal” bid for the Journolist archives:

Does anybody really care about this stuff? Frankly, we don’t know, because nobody’s reading blogs three days before Fourth of July. Obviously, the traffic-suckage has reached critical mass when even Instapundit resorts to traffic-baiting with an Andrew Sullivan beatdown.

Not that I’m against Sully beatdowns, but at some point, you get tired of repeating that the obstetric-obsessed marijuana-addicted immigrant poofter appears to be descending into AIDS-related dementia. Even Ace of Spades seems to be growing weary of rolling Sissy Fuss up that hill.

Dale Robertson and Chuckles the Clown

OK, so . . . David Weigel. People who say that Weigel never did the Right any favors are giving short shrift to an episode recounted by Ikeonic:

I didn’t know Dave Weigel from a hole in the wall until January 2010. At that time, I was researching and blogging about an idiot named Dale Robertson — who was caught holding this sign at a Houston Tea Party event.  Dave Weigel broke the story for a wider audience and it was picked up by Chuckles at Little Green Footballs . . .
Weigel’s original story reported this reaction from the Houston Tea Party Society:

Update: Josh Parker of the Houston Tea Party Society tells me that Robertson was booted out of the event for this sign.I thought to myself: Wow, now there’s a newsworthy nugget that Chuckles seems to find irrelevant in his zeal to tar and feather all Tea Partiers as racists. . . .

Even Media Matters reported the Houston Tea Party Society’s repudiation of Robertson because Dave Weigel reported on it!  Some folks at Houston TPS were kind enough to give me some praise for blogging on their behalf, but it was really Dave Weigel who got the Houston TPS their due in a way I never could have with my miniscule following.

When the online Left, and even the Washington Times, tried to elevate Robertson as a “Tea Party Leader,” Weigel pushed back against this clearly erroneous meme. Dave didn’t do that to curry favor with anyone, but simply because this raaaaacism smear was a bogus hit-job, an illegitimate narrative that was being exploited to perpetuate a falsehood.

From the Fringe to the Mainstream

Several of my friends have pointed to Weigel’s habit of covering the fringes of the conservative movement, the goofs and nutballs and tinfoil-hatters. “He’s just interested in making us look bad,” seems to be the basic complaint.

Actually, I think this points to Weigel having the same Hit-‘Em-Where-They-Ain’t instinct that drives a lot of my reporting expeditions. Rather than engaging in pack journalism — jumping on the big Story Of The Day that everybody and his mother is already covering — there’s more news opportunity (and a lot more fun) in reporting stuff that isn’t yet on the radar of the mainstream press.

Why, after all, did I go racing off to Kentucky to debunk the “Lower Glennbeckistan” angle on the Census worker hanging? Why did I start rattling the tip-jar to go cover Doug Hoffman in NY-23 almost as soon as I got off the phone with his campaign?

Hit ’em where they ain’t: Find a developing story that deserves more coverage and then jump into it neck-deep.

That approach to reporting works no matter what the story is. Who was the first music critic to see the breakthrough potential of the Ramones or REM or Nirvana? Better yet, who set out on an expedition to North Wilkesboro, N.C., in 1965 to cover a hillbilly pastime that now rivals the NFL as America’s favorite sport?

In politics, the hit-’em-where-they-ain’t approach means keeping an eye out for long-shot candidates and marginalized movements. The nature of American politics is that today’s kooky fringe is tomorrow’s rising insurgency and perhaps next year’s power structure.

Obama’s early association with the fringe leftovers of the ’60s New Left (Bill Ayers, et al.) led to a successful campaign fueled in large measure by the same anti-American kooks who thought Ned Lamont would make a good senator. Glenn Beck has become a TV star and bestselling author in large measure by chronicling shady connections among members of today’s Democratic/Progressive coalition — connections once known only to readers of  publications that most reporters would dismiss as “right-wing fringe” — including WorldNetDaily, David Horowitz’s Discover the Networks and the John Birch Society’s New American magazine. (Hey, who has the lowdown when the story is a Russian spy?)

Whatever Weigel’s sins, his reporting on the Dale Robertson meme shows that at times he performed the valuable journalistic service of separating the factual wheat from the bogus chaff in MSM coverage of the Right. I’ll also remind you of Liz Mair’s suspicion that Weigel got burned by a progressive on Journolist for the “sin” of defending Rand Paul.

And by doing such things, Weigel pissed in Charles Johnson’s cornflakes.

So he can’t be all bad, can he?


52 Responses to “The W-Word: Fringe Journalism Is Fun!

  1. Estragon
    July 1st, 2010 @ 8:16 am

    Okay, so Weigel had a limit to the degree his deep and abiding hatred of conservatives would influence his reporting.

    And Hitler was said to be kind to animals.

    Must someone have absolutely NO redeeming qualities before they are worthy of denunciation?

    Weigel hates you, and he hates me, and he hates all conservatives, and he wanted to help “manage” the news so as to defeat us, not through exposing truth, but by concealing it.

    I don’t care how many times he didn’t fully buy into the leftist meme. I don’t care how many bar tabs he picked up. He is an evil little leftist cadre who hopes for triumph of the left through any means necessary, including manipulation of the news. Read his emails.

    Nice friend you have there, pal!

  2. smitty
    July 1st, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    Have you replaced Young4Eyes as our zampolit?
    NTTAWWT, but we would have thrown a party for Y4E if we knew he was being transferred.
    I hope there was a promotion; Y4E’s arguments that wet is the new dry were as consistent and amusing as they were nonsensical.
    Truly a fabulous troll, Y4E. You’ve a contra-proud tradition to uphold, gg.

  3. Robert Stacy McCain
    July 1st, 2010 @ 8:51 am

    Good point, Smitty. These are the kind of progressive trolls that we prefer: Predictable and inerrantly wrong.

    Estragon: I don’t know what you want from me. Everybody else in the blogosphere gets to blog about Weigel, but God forbid somebody who actually knows the guy should give it a crack.

  4. ak4mc
    July 1st, 2010 @ 8:59 am

    By their deeds shall ye know them. Character references are only tie-breakers, Stacy. 😉

  5. Robert Stacy McCain
    July 1st, 2010 @ 9:04 am

    Hey, whenever you need some cutting-edge experts to discuss the latest developments in New Media, David Brooks and Gail Collins are there for you.

  6. Adobe Walls
    July 1st, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    The left in general is anti-American.

  7. Joe
    July 1st, 2010 @ 10:13 am

    To all the trolls, lefties, Kossacks, dictator apologists, and general scum bags unwilling to engage in honest debate go watch this.

    And for Andrew Sullivan, fuck you too

  8. Joe
    July 1st, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    gg–I do not take Barack Obama to be the second comming of Hilter and I do not call him a wuss. My primary criticism of Barack Obama is he promotes economic and social policies that will cause great fiscal harm to the country.

    Obama also sucks dealing with this oil spill and obviously wants pelicans and turtles to die. Although he accepted some limited help from foriegn countries in dealing with the spill, he has not lifted the Jones Act yet. Why is that?

    As far as national defense goes, Obama is weaker than George W. Bush, but not by much. So far he is staying the course on Afghanistan and I do not have a problem with him replacing McCrystal with Petraeus. I get nervous when he has exceedingly off the mark individuals like Eric Holder advising him on how to deal with terrorism. Eric Holder is a male version of Janet Reno–except Holder has less testosterone.

  9. Joe
    July 1st, 2010 @ 10:43 am

    I fear that Obama will abanond Afghanistan because it will get too damn hard for him. Plus his pal from the neighborhood Bill Ayers is against it.

  10. Dave C
    July 1st, 2010 @ 11:37 am

    gg was a Kossack? who saw that coming?

  11. Paul A'Barge
    July 1st, 2010 @ 11:47 am

    Do yourself a favor and walk back from the edge of the precipice. You’re doing nothing but giving everyone else confirmation that you’ve become Weigel’s butt-budy.

  12. Ikeonic
    July 1st, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    Stacy, as usual you make my point far better and more concisely than my lame attempt:

    “When the online Left, and even the Washington Times, tried to elevate Robertson as a “Tea Party Leader,” Weigel pushed back against this clearly erroneous meme. Dave didn’t do that to curry favor with anyone, but simply because this raaaaacism smear was a bogus hit-job, an illegitimate narrative that was being exploited to perpetuate a falsehood.”


    And it was the nonstop perpetuating of this falsehood (being trumpeted by Chuckles the Clown and everyone over at MSNBC) that led me to pursue the story to find out what fellow Tea Partiers REALLY thought about Dale Robertson. It was the unreported story and to Dave Weigel’s credit, he reported how the Houston Tea Party Society REALLY felt about the jackass they booted out their event for the very sign the left and Chuckles were using as “proof” that all Tea Partiers are closet racists. It’s a tired old meme that needs to be confronted and defeated early and often.

  13. Mike LaRoche
    July 1st, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

    Have you replaced Young4Eyes as our zampolit?
    NTTAWWT, but we would have thrown a party for Y4E if we knew he was being transferred.

    Evidently, Young4Eyes’s job as TOM’s official lefty blog troll was outsourced to India.

  14. Bob Belvedere
    July 1st, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    Methinks you’re right Mike, and now we have a troll that is just as incomprehensible as talking to an Indian tech person.

  15. Bob Belvedere
    July 1st, 2010 @ 2:39 pm


  16. Joe
    July 1st, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    I was wondering what he was up to in getting his career back on track…

    Maybe Mel Gibson, Alec Baldwin, and Michael Richards can go on a group anger managment retreat. Sorry gg, you can’t go. Guys who live in their mom’s basement and don’t have jobs aren’t invited. You might qualify for the anger management CD home study course however.

  17. Joe
    July 1st, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

    gg, you manged to do a complete brain dump of that jumble of progressive liberal mush you call “thought”. It must have taken years of listening to otherwise unemployable teachers and professors, Noam Chomsky tapes, and various lefty blogs for you to acquire all that gunk and you managed to outline it in one relatively succinct (if stupid) post. Kinda like projectile vomitting your brain.


  18. Bob Belvedere
    July 1st, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

    Joe: I believe it was Ninny Churchill [the great man’s great-great grandchild, twice removed and replaced with a sort of large circular device] who said about gg’s mind:
    It is a piddle, wrapped in a misery, inside an enema; but perhaps there is a key. That key is to the Rubber Room.

  19. Ikeonic
    July 1st, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

    Do you have a blog? If not, please talk to @markos and get one at Daily KookoosForKokoaPuffs.

    I’m sure @markos would welcome you with open arms.

  20. JadedByPolitics
    July 1st, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

    I guess your tip jar is going to require additional funds for the new kneepads you will need by the end of the Weigel story.

  21. Adobe Walls
    July 1st, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

    How enlightening I had not realized people like yourself chose the life of the Hijdas as a means of birth control.

  22. E.D. Kain
    July 1st, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

    Stacy – Just wanted to say that this is all excellent stuff and spot on. Very sensible take on the whole affair.

  23. Bob Belvedere
    July 2nd, 2010 @ 12:41 am

    Adobe shoots! Adobe scores!

  24. Estragon
    July 2nd, 2010 @ 6:42 am

    Stacy ~ I don’t “want” anything at all from you. But when you defend the guy who has said such awful things about conservatives, conspired to manage the news to deceive the public, and generally evinced a hatred for the right in general, the fact he may have helped an old lady cross the street and swerved to avoid running over a squirrel just doesn’t even things up.

    Heck, I never said the guy was totally evil. Take the nasty stuff he said in those emails, one by one, and balance them out against his good deeds. Sorry, 75% evil is still pretty evil in my book.

    My eyebrows do raise when you claim to be “somebody who actually knows the guy” . . . don’t the emails released demonstrate you did NOT know him? Are you going to make me cut and paste the pertinent excerpts?

    Look, dude, you were conned. I know it’s tough for a wizened old news hound to admit, but it happens to us all at one time or another. The attractive young face, eager for our approval, stroking our ego, picking up the bar tab or maybe even dinner on their expense account . . . sure, with most it involves a female seductress, but who am I to judge?

    Weigel isn’t your friend or your colleague. He hates you and he hates me and he hates all conservatives with a deep and venomous malice. What he said when he thought no one would know tells it all. Character is what you do when you think no one is watching.

  25. Ikeonic
    July 2nd, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    What part of Dave Weigel is a libertarian do people not comprehend? He never, ever claimed to be a conservative. Liberals and conservatives take turns hating or courting libertarians. I for one agree that it was probably a liberal pissed at Weigel for befriending Rand Paul that leaked the JournoList emails.

    Weigel (not unlike myself) is unafraid to make very candid observations and snarky, black humor jokes about Republicans AND Democrats. Anybody who knows Weigel well knows that snark is his stock and trade — not unlike certain conservatives engage in. Mr. Limbaugh comes to mind.

    If anything, I would have thought that the liberal knee jerk reaction to Rush Limbaugh parodying liberals who called Obama “the magic negro” would have taught conservatives a thing or two about how silly knee jerk reactions are.

    Conservatives need to lighten up and be able to laugh at our own faults and the idiots within. Quit being so damn defensive. We should laugh at ourselves and laugh a hell of a lot more at liberals. But if you have no sense of humor (not necessarily as dark & snarky as Weigel’s) and can’t laugh at yourself, then who the hell can you laugh at?

    All the more reason I march to a different drummer and feel far more at home listening to Dennis Miller (who’s unafraid to laugh at anything) than I do listening to most of the ranting loons on Fox and talk radio. Rush is still damn funny though, for those who have depth and a complicated enough sense of humor to appreciate the satire and snark.

  26. BrianPeppers
    July 5th, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

    weigel cannot get to call limbaugh and palin names ok i have no prolem with his libertarian kapeesh?