Dave Weigel is leaving The Washington Post over private e-mails mocking conservative figures. I find it really extraordinary that a news organization would let such a talented reporter go not because of any kind of professional misconduct but because someone leaked private correspondence in a deliberate effort to make Weigel look bad. If no one in The Washington Post newsroom has ever made a contemptuous joke about Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, I'll eat my laptop with mambo sauce. On second thought, never mind -- calling Hillary Clinton a bitch as part of The Washington Post's journalistic product is not grounds for firing at The Washington Post.
Of all the reactions to Weigel leaving the Post, I found Jeffrey Goldberg's to be the most revealing:
I gave my friend the answer he already knew: The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training. This little episode today is proof of this. But it is also proof that some people at the Post (where I worked, briefly, 20 years ago) still know the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior, and that maybe this episode will lead to the reimposition of some level of standards.
This is an extraordinary statement from someone who touted a nonexistent link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Goldberg's reporting was cited by President Bush as proof that even the liberals knew his claims about Iraq were true. Of course it doesn't matter that these claims were false, or that they helped lead the country into an unnecessary war where thousands died because Goldberg is "toilet trained."
It's important to understand what "toilet training" means. One can, like Marc Thiessen, Bill Kristol, or any other member of the Post's conservative pundit stable, advocate for the most horrible applications of state violence imaginable, and even do so dishonestly, as long as you do so without disparaging certain protected elites. The quality or veracity of your reportage or your argument is quite irrelevant.
Goldberg's metaphor is apt because it really is quite plainly about where you piss, and who you're pissing on. Learn to mark the right trees, and you're, well, golden.
-- A. Serwer