David Weigel

Tags ››› David Weigel
  • Conservative Media Run With Wall Street Journal's Nothingburger Of A Clinton Pseudo-Scandal

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Right-wing media are hyping a Wall Street Journal article that attempts to scandalize the FBI’s investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email use by tying political donations made by Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to a 2015 state senate candidate whose husband later became involved in the FBI investigation. Journalists mocked and poked holes in the “embarrassing” story that has “literally nothing” to it. 

  • The Trump Birther Headlines Problem

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Scanning media headlines after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s statement about his racist birther crusade, one could reasonably come away thinking Trump had fully renounced and apologized for his years-long offensive campaign to delegitimize President Barack Obama. That was not the case -- Trump did not apologize and in fact blatantly lied in his 26-second remarks -- but media’s collective failure to accurately describe the event in their headlines may have left readers thinking Trump shut the door on his birtherism.

    After building “suspense” that he was going to definitively address his racist accusations that President Obama was not born in the United States, Trump used his “circus” of an event to briefly say that “President Obama was born in the United States. Period" and to falsely accuse “‘Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008” of starting “the birther controversy.” Trump also erroneously claimed he had “finished” the controversy by forcing President Obama to release his birth certificate.

    Online and print headlines largely failed to contextualize the event or note Trump’s lie about Clinton:

    The New York Times:


    The Hill:

    The Los Angeles Times:

    The Associated Press:

    The New York Times did eventually change its headline to: “Trump Drops False ‘Birther’ Theory, but Floats a New One: Clinton Started It.”

    Though the original headlines are not technically incorrect, the lack of context -- Trump’s brief comments after taking the media for a ride, his outright lie about Clinton starting birther rumors, and his false assertion that he had “finished” the birther controversy -- likely misled readers.

    Conversely, The Huffington Post and The Washington Post got it right:

    As former senior adviser to President Obama and current CNN contributor Dan Pfeiffer noted:

    The Washington Post’s David Weigel wrote in a September 15 column that Trump, whom he called “the chyron candidate,” has “never failed to offer enough detail to fit in a headline or cable news chyron,” and that although most reporters make key distinctions and include crucial context “in the body of their stories,” context is often “elided” in “headlines or tweets.” Weigel pointed to the issue of the candidates’ disclosures of their medical information as an example:

    That matters. If, like many people, you only glance at the news (yes, we know how long readers spend finishing articles), you come away with the impression that Trump is trading Clinton blow for blow and white paper for white paper. If either candidate released their entire medical history, or Trump revealed his entire tax returns, only a handful of voters might even read them. They'd depend on the press to find the story and the lede. Most coverage of campaigns needs to be shrunk to fit a chyron, anyway; Trump's innovation has been to preshrink the news.

    Headlines matter in a Twitter-driven, fast-paced media landscape. Offering crucial details in articles -- but not in headlines -- may not be enough anymore, particularly in the age of Trump.

  • Wash. Post Highlights How Trump's Media Dominance "Obscure[s]" Ted Cruz's Extremism -- To His Benefit

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    The Washington Post's David Weigel highlighted how Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz  "actually benefits from Trump's full-spectrum dominance of the national media conversation," which "obscure[s]" Cruz's extreme positions. 

    Donald Trump has dominated media coverage since June 2015, when he announced his presidential bid. In 2015, Trump received over 22 hours of air time on Fox and was covered on ABC's evening news program for 81 minutes, compared to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders' one minute. Much of the coverage has focused on Trump's extreme positions and inflammatory rhetoric. Other GOP presidential candidates have attempted to distance themselves from Trump -- even though their own extreme positions often don't differ dramatically from Trump's -- but they have not received the same media condemnation.

    In a January 7 post for The Washington Post's blog Post Politics, Weigel explained how "obscured by the endless Trump news-cycles" is the fact that "Cruz is the most conservative candidate" and is "ready to indulge questions" that are usually dismissed for their extremism. Weigel noted that "[w]ithout Trump in the race, questions and issues such as these -- the sort of things that have stymied some tea party candidates for lower offices -- might be controversial," but are overlooked because of Trump's media dominance (emphasis added): 

    So far, given the lack of damage from the Canada story to his image among conservatives, Cruz actually benefits from Trump's full-spectrum dominance of the national media conversation.

    Cruz does this by blaming every incoming attack on two factors. The first is his strength in the polls; Cruz will suggest that "three weeks ago, every Republican was talking about Donald Trump." Not so much now, in his view. The second is the mainstream media, one of the softest targets in Republican politics. (Cruz's stump speech, which changes subtly from stop to stop, always includes a joke about reporters "checking themselves into therapy" after his hypothetical presidency ends in 2025.)

    In Webster City, Cruz used most of his news conference to gently chide the media, saying they are not asking about anything Iowans seemed to be interested in. When CNN's Dana Bash asked whether Cruz would take Trump's advice and embark on a legal route to prove his eligibility to be president, he took another chance to ask why no one was covering the proverbial Real Issues.


    After one more question about whether establishment Republicans such as McCain were feeling more confident in attacking him, Cruz started his town hall. Something obscured by the endless Trump news cycles was suddenly much clearer: Cruz was the most conservative candidate in the race and ready to indulge questions that other Republicans dismissed.

    One questioner asked about the alleged influence of the Trilateral Commission and David Rockefeller, two bugbears of conspiracy theorists. "It's a very good question," said Cruz, pivoting to discuss the Medellin national sovereignty case, which is featured in some of his TV ads here. Another questioner asked whether the Federal Reserve was constitutional, prompting a short monologue by Cruz about why America should return to the gold standard.

    And another questioner asked about the potential threat of Muslim courts issuing their own sharia-based rulings within the United States.


    Without Trump in the race, questions and issues such as these -- the sort of things that have stymied some tea party candidates for lower offices -- might be controversial. But Trump, who has courted controversy again and again in the past few months, is in the race.

  • Media Mock The GOP's "Ridiculous Manifesto" Of Presidential Debate Demands


    Media commentators criticized the Republican presidential candidates' demands to media sponsors for future presidential primary debates, noting that because debates are "a chief means for Americans to hear and weigh the ideas of the candidates," they're "too important to be guided" by a "ridiculous manifesto" of demands from candidates.

  • Washington Post's Weigel Criticizes Media For Mischaracterizing Clinton's Meet The Press Interview To Paint Her As Dismissive

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    The Washington Post's David Weigel called out the media for taking Hillary Clinton's comments about her email use on NBC's Meet the Press out of context to portray her as dismissive, criticizing "[t]he media's willingness to believe the worst about Clinton."

    Chuck Todd interviewed democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the September 27 edition of NBC's Meet the Press. Todd later positively characterized her tone during the interview while appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe, saying "I spent about 30 minutes with her. Pretty much half of it was on e-mails, which she could have easily been annoyed about, and it was clear she was not."

    In a September 28 post for The Washington Post's The Fix, David Weigel criticized the media's subsequent coverage of the interview, noting that several news outlets had misleadingly framed Clinton's mention of a conspiracy theory during the interview as her "dismiss[ing]" her use of a private email server. Pointing out that her reference to a conspiracy theory was actually "calling back to something Todd said at the start of the interview," Weigel noted that the mischaracterization of her comment was part of a "long political history" of the "media's willingness to believe the worst about Clinton":

    If you did something productive with your Sunday -- if you went to church, took a nature hike, composted leaves from the back yard, concocted an alibi for the cops -- you may have seen only the headlines about Hillary Rodham Clinton's "Meet the Press" interview. According to those headlines, she dismissed the unkillable scandal over her use of a private e-mail server as a "conspiracy theory." A sample:

    Politico: "Hillary Clinton: 'Another conspiracy theory' "

    The Guardian: "Hillary Clinton dismisses 'conspiracy theory' amid email server controversy"

    Townhall: "Hillary Laughs Again, Dismisses Email Scandal as a 'Conspiracy Theory' "

    These headlines are true, insofar as how Clinton used the phrase "conspiracy theory" as she answered one of Chuck Todd's questions. "She is now blaming a 'conspiracy theory' for her sinking poll numbers," grumbled a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. The "conspiracy theory" quote was even quickly tweeted by the opposition research wizards at America Rising.

    What hasn't been mentioned: Clinton was actually calling back to something Todd said at the start of the interview. "I know there's always conspiracy theories out there," he said knowingly, referring to rumors that Clinton had sat down with him only after some subjects were barred from discussion. He then made absolutely clear: "There are no limitations to this interview."

    Clinton agreed -- "as far as I know, that's true" -- and plowed through seven e-mail questions. Todd wound up the eighth question by asking whether the Democratic presidential front-runner could "respond to an alternative explanation that has sort of been circulating." Only then did Clinton laugh: "Another conspiracy theory?"

    None of this will matter when it comes to the way Clinton is covered, and I already have designated a section of my inbox for the complaints that I am carrying her water here. (Why don't I work for Media Matters? Indeed!) And that's the point. The media's willingness to believe the worst about Clinton, and the long political history it can draw from, has been the single toughest external problem for her campaign.

  • Alterman: Post "ousted" Weigel for "bias" but Broder "has clearly showed bias and retains his job"

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Media Matters' Jamison Foser has looked at Washington Post's David Broder extensively, concluding in a February column about the "myth" of the Post's "liberal" op-ed pages:

    Let's start with David Broder -- he is, after all, the much-lauded "dean" of the Washington press corps, and frequently described as a liberal. In the context of the Post's roster of opinion writers, he may be one. But from his 1969 complaint that nasty anti-war activists were out to "break" an unfairly maligned president Nixon to his 2006 description of anti-war activists as "elitists" and his Cheney-esque 2007 slur that Democrats have little "sympathy for" the military, David Broder has made clear that he is no liberal.

    I've previously laid out at some length the case against David Broder's sterling reputation. This is a man who thought that President Clinton should have resigned because he "may have" lied about an affair, but who didn't think President Bush should have done so after he lied his way into a war. Not even when he declared Bush "lawless and reckless" did he think resignation was in order. And, having piously insisted that he and his beltway buddies don't like being lied to when Bill Clinton wasn't telling the truth about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, Broder lavishes praise upon Sarah Palin, a politician who only lies when she speaks. And when she writes.

    In his 2006 column declaring Bush "lawless and reckless," Broder seemed more upset with the "vituperative, foul-mouthed bloggers on the left" and gratuitously slammed Al Gore and John Kerry for a "know-it-all arrogance rankled Midwesterners such as myself" (no surprise, really: During the 2000 campaign, Broder bashed Gore for the sin of offering too many details about "what he wants to do as president.")

    In 2005, Broder blamed congressional Democrats -- who were in the minority -- for a failure to conduct oversight hearings; in 2007, when Democrats were in charge, he bashed them for doing so. He's against investigating torture, and he was against investigating the outing of a CIA agent. But he's in favor of investigating the Clintons' marriage (not the marriages of Republicans, though!).

    Anyway: there's much more here, including the fact that David Broder praised President Bush's response to Katrina. What more do you need to know?

    Now, Eric Alterman -- a senior fellow at Center for American Progress and a Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College -- writes that the Post "ousted" David Weigel for displaying "bias" in his emails to a private, off-the-record listerserve but they continue to let Broder work despite the fact that he "has clearly showed bias and retains his job."

  • They got the beat

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Eric Boehlert points out that Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander has suggested replacing David Weigel with not one but two reporters assigned to cover conservatives:

    Did I mention the Post has never hired anyone to cover the "liberal movement." Yet, incredibly, Post ombudsman Alexander announced that the solution to the Weigel resignation, in order to make sure 'wingers are content with the daily, is to hire two staffers to cover the conservative movement.

    That's a good point -- but it's even worse than that. See, it seems that the Washington Post already has a reporter assigned to cover conservatives: Amy Gardner. So, Gardner plus two replacements for Weigel would make three Washington Post reporters covering the Right full time. Will that be enough to appease the right? Or will it take four or eight or twelve? Of course, none of it will be enough.

    The New York Times, too, has created a conservative beat in recent years -- and, like the Post, the Times lacks a dedicated liberal beat reporter. This despite the fact that for much of the last decade, the most interesting political developments have been happening on the Left.

    For much of the past decade, it has been the progressive movement, not the conservative movement, that has innovated in the use of the internet for organizing and for fundraising and for communicating. It has been the progressive movement, not the conservatives, that rapidly built up its infrastructure, with the rise of organizations like the Center for American Progress, CREW, and (ahem) Media Matters. There have been vibrant debates on the Left that have reexamined long-held assumptions among Democrats that winning requires running to the Right. Oh, and the Left has won enormous victories in the past two elections. And yet it seems that every six months or so the Washington Post (or the New York Times) makes a show of assigning a reporter to the "conservative beat." And their ombudsmen come forward to insist that the paper really must pay more attention to conservatives. What, exactly, have conservatives been up to that justifies such attention? When they come up with ideas better than "let's cut spending during a recession" and "Maybe the president was born in Kenya," then, perhaps, they will merit a dedicated beat reporter or two or even three.

  • Wash. Post ombudsman favors the Right -- again

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    In a blog post about David Weigel's departure from the Washington Post, the paper's ombudsman demonstrated once again a stunning bias in favor of its conservative critics. Ombudsman Andrew Alexander, like other key figures at the Post, routinely gives more weight and credence to criticisms of the paper that come from conservatives than to those that come from liberals -- despite the fact that on several of the biggest stories of the past two decades, the Post has (intentionally or not) placed not just a thumb but an entire forearm on the scales in favor of conservatives.

    Among the most weighty progressive critiques of the Post:

    1) The relentless obsession with Clinton-era non-scandals on the part of both the Post's news and editorial pages, as illustrated by the paper's editorial call for a special counsel to investigate Whitewater even as the paper admitted there was "no credible charge" either Clinton had done anything wrong. The Post's overheated reaction to every trumped-up allegation in Clinton is even more glaring after having witnessed the paper's comparatively minimalist approach to Bush-era misdeeds.

    2) The Post's "war against Gore" during the 2000 election, exemplified by Ceci Connolly's snarky -- and 100% false -- lede on December 2, 1999:

    "Add Love Canal to the list of verbal missteps by Vice President Gore. The man who mistakenly claimed to have inspired the movie 'Love Story' and to have invented the Internet says he didn't quite mean to say he discovered a toxic waste site when he said at a high school forum Tuesday in New Hampshire: 'I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal.' Gore went on to brag about holding the 'first hearing on that issue' and said 'I was the one that started it all.'"

    That -- including some of the words in quotes -- is just completely wrong. And it was typical of the Washington Post's thumb-on-the-scale coverage of the 2000 campaign -- coverage that, given the election's razor-thin margin, can fairly be described as having unfairly put George W. Bush in office.

    3) The Post's abject failure to appropriately cover the Bush administration's false case for war in Iraq, a failure to which enough Post reporters and editors have confessed that it need not be detailed here.

    And those are just the clearest example of the Post's history-changing mishandling of specific stories. There's also the matter of what may be the nation's worst editorial & opinion pages and the constant drumbeat of articles and features that adopt conservative framing and assumptions.

    If there is a single legitimate conservative gripe about the Washington Post that even begins to approach the magnitude of the Post's shoddy coverage of Clinton, the 2000 campaign, and the Iraq war, I've never heard it -- and I've never seen a Post reporter, editor, or Ombudsman cite it.

    And yet Alexander and Post editors routinely refer to conservative unease with the Post, and validate that unease by bending over backwards to appease their conservative critics. Meanwhile, they typically pretend that liberal critics don't exist, and that the fiascos outlined above never happened.

  • Flashback: Did Washington Post reporters jeer Al Gore?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    So, the Washington Post accepted David Weigel's resignation, apparently because he -- like every other reporter -- has personal views about some of the people he covers. From Post media critic Howard Kurtz's write-up of the resignation:

    "Dave did excellent work for us," Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said. But, he said, "we can't have any tolerance for the perception that people are conflicted or bring a bias to their work. . . . There's abundant room on our Web site for a wide range of viewpoints, and we should be transparent about everybody's viewpoint."

    It probably won't come as much of a surprise that this is not a standard the Post consistently applies. (After all, Brauchli's statement that the Post cannot tolerate a perception of conflict appears in an article written by Howard Kurtz, whose dual roles as Washington Post media critic and highly-paid CNN anchor pose the greatest conflict of interest in all of journalism.)

    Jonathan Schwartz reminds us that during a 1999 Democratic presidential primary debate, the media was actively rooting against Al Gore. Time's Eric Pooley has written that during the debate, the reporters in the press room responded to Gore "in a collective jeer, like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some hapless nerd." Jake Tapper has written that during the debate "there was hissing for Gore in the media room up at Dartmouth College. The reporters were hissing Gore." And Howard Mortman said: "The media groaned, howled and laughed almost every time Al Gore said something."

    Now, I don't know if Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, whose snarky, error-filled and at times downright nasty coverage of Gore's presidential campaign has been extensively documented, was in the press room during that debate. I do know that her byline appears on a Washington Post article previewing the debate, with a New Hampshire dateline.

    So, given that the Washington Post just got rid of David Weigel because his private criticism of conservatives like Pat Buchanan creates the "perception" that he "bring[s] a bias to [his] work," I can't help wondering: Was Ceci Connolly among those reporters who reportedly jeered and hissed Al Gore in 1999? Were any other Washington Post reporters?

  • Weigel blasts Fox News contributor Palin's "strange, unprofessional and paranoid grudge"

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    Noting Fox News contributor Sarah Palin's "undergraduate degree in journalism" WashingtonPost.com's David Weigel takes the half-term governor of Alaska to task in a post about her Facebook screed against investigative reporter Joe McGinniss:

    Weigel writes (emphasis added):

    Sarah Palin took to her Facebook account today to inform her readers that Joe McGinniss, an award-winning reporter and author, had rented the house next door.

    I saw Ben Smith flag this earlier today but did not really appreciate how strange and, frankly, immature Palin's post was until I read it.

    Palin informs her readers that McGinniss is "overlooking my children's play area" and "overlooking Piper's bedroom." Alternately sounding angry and mocking, she refers to "the family's swimming hole," which at first reference sounds like she's accusing McGinniss of checking out the Palins in their bathing suits, until you realize the family's "swimming hole" is Lake Lucille. And she posts a photo of the space McGinniss is renting, captioning it, "Can I call you Joe?"

    Can somebody explain to me how this isn't a despicable thing for Palin to do? She describes McGinniss as the author of "the bizarre anti-Palin administration oil development pieces that resulted in my Department of Natural Resources announcing that his work is the most twisted energy-related yellow journalism they'd ever encountered."

    Another way of putting it would be that McGinniss is an investigative journalist who wrote his first best-seller at age 26 and was shopping a book about Alaska and the oil industry when Palin was named John McCain's running mate. And another way of describing those "bizarre" pieces is that no one has ever challenged the facts in them.

    Palin, who has an undergraduate degree in journalism, should understand that articles don't become untrue when the subjects don't agree with them.


    Politicians don't have veto power over who gets to write about them, or how they research their stories, as long as they're within the bounds of the law. It's incredibly irresponsible for them to sic their fans on journalists they don't like. And that's what Palin is doing here -- she has already inspired Glenn Beck to accuse McGinniss of "stalking" Palin and issuing a threat to boycott his publisher.

    Weigel's entire piece is well worth a read, as is his follow-up on the emails he received following its posting.


  • Establishment GOP Senate candidate says Tea Party backed primary opponent is winning because of Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    As David Weigel notes on WashingtonPost.com's Right Now blog:

    My colleague Perry Bacon is on the ground in Kentucky, where he filed this interview with fading/rallying (depending on whom you ask) Republican candidate Trey Grayson. For the umpteenth time, Grayson responds to questions about why Rand Paul is doing so well by grousing about Paul's national support.

    "I've been on Fox News once, on a live feed on one of the shows, and I was told I was to expect a certain line of questioning, and I was given a different line of questioning," Grayson said. Referring to Rand Paul, Grayson said, "he's on all of the time."

    "His dad had these phenomenal contacts, so … he's on Fox News every couple of weeks with softballs," Grayson said. Imitating an anchor's voice, Grayson said the questions are like "Rand, tell us about health care, you're a doctor, Rand, tell us about the tea party."

    Weigel goes on to write that there's a great deal more behind Paul's success than "softball" Fox News interviews. Says Weigel:

    Lots of conservatives get softballs on Fox News. Few have the hustle to run a serious Senate race. At the 11th hour, it's like Grayson still doesn't take Paul seriously.

    Still, it's interesting to see an establishment GOP candidate making such complaints.

  • New Hawaiian Law: The Farah Followers Act of 2010 or the Anti-Birther Bill?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    This one is sure to send Joseph Farah -- World Net Daily editor and Birther-King -- into hysterics. Writing on WashingtonPost.com's Right Now blog, David Weigel reports on legislation signed into law by the Republican Governor of Hawaii in response to incessant Birther requests for President Obama's birth certificate:

    After grappling with the legality of the legislation-- making sure that it did not hurt the public's access to any other government records -- Gov. Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii) has signed into law a bill that protects state employees from having to answer harassing requests about President Barack Obama's citizenship.

    The new law, Act 100, allows state agencies a limited exemption from Freedom of Information requirements when duplicative requests for information are made by the same person. Although the law covers all agencies, the measure targets people who repeatedly request a copy of Obama's Hawai'i birth certificate.

  • Weigel: "HHS: Reports about health care cost study 'completely inaccurate'"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From an April 27 post on David Weigel's Washington Post blog Right Now:

    For nearly two full days, this anonymously sourced story in the American Spectator -- alleging that the Department of Health and Human Services buried an actuarial report on the costs of health care reform -- has burned up conservative blogs. But HHS tells me that the story isn't true.

    "If this issue hadn't consumed my entire day so far," said Richard S. Foster, chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, "I would have found it fairly amusing." The article, he said, was "completely inaccurate."

    "We began working on the reconciliation bill for the health reform legislation once it was publicly issued on March 18 - three days before the House vote took place on March 21," said Foster. "Because of the details and complexity of the legislation, it wasn't possible to estimate the package before the Senate vote.

    "We began work on the estimates right away, but we didn't finalize them until the afternoon of April 22. We finished our memorandum on the health reform act later that same day and immediately sent it to those individuals and organizations that had requested it, including Congressional staff, HHS staff, and media representatives. Consistent with the Office of the Actuary's longstanding independent role on behalf of Congress, we did not seek approval or clearance from HHS (or anyone else) before issuing our analysis."

    HHS is looking for corrections from Big Government and other sites.


    The Prowler strikes again: Right-wing media run with dubious claim that HHS "hid damning health care report"

    Fox News runs with dubious Prowler report they acknowledge they have not "independently confirmed"

    After promoting dubious American Spectator report that HHS "buried" health care report, Fox confirms the allegations are completely false

    Fox News burned by dubious Prowler report they failed to "independently confirm"

  • Hannah Giles needs your money for her defense -- and more pink pens?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    The Washington Independent's David Weigel has obtained a letter soliciting cash for Hannah Giles' legal defense fund and one thing is abundantly clear... James O'Keefe's undercover ACORN video partner loves to annotate her pleas for help with plenty of pink pen -- stars, underlines, double underlines, circles, double parenthesis, arrows... you name it! Other than that, the missive is exactly what you'd expect - chock-a-block full of attacks on ACORN and President Obama.

    Weigel writes:

    Here's a fundraising letter sent by the Liberty Legal Institute's Hannah Giles Legal Defense Fund to offset legal costs incurred by Giles - the star of last year's ACORN sting - as a result of a lawsuit filed against her by ACORN and some of its former employees. The mailing was produced by Base Connect, a firm that does work for Republican campaigns.

    Here's the first page. Be sure to check out the entire letter.