Accuracy in Media

A writer masquerading as a conservative who was supposed to be covering the conservative movement has quit his job under fire at the Washington Post. The writer, David Weigel, left after it came to light that he had made disparaging remarks about conservative personalities on a private email list of liberal journalists. The scandal involves The Washington Post, Reason magazine, and a network of “independent” on-line publications with funding from billionaire George Soros and multi-millionaire gay mogul Tim Gill.

In a major understatement, the Post ombudsman, or consumer advocate, says the scandal will affect the paper’s standing among conservatives. But the Post never had any standing among conservatives. This is why it is called the Compost.

Filled with profanity, emails from Weigel were leaked and publicized showing that he said Matt Drudge of Drudge Report fame ought to set himself on fire, ridiculed the first-rate reporting of Byron York of the Washington Examiner, called conservatives racist, suggested Tea Party members were stupid, and expressed the hope that Rush Limbaugh would die from heart problems.

Weigel was just the latest version of a Washington Post liberal hatchet man. He was supposed to have “conservative” credentials, which turned out to be based on his association with a group of Reason magazine libertarians committed to abortion, gay rights, marijuana and pornography. We are now learning that Weigel voted for Obama.

In an AIM Report, after one of his attacks on our work, I had noted, “Frankly, I didn’t pay much attention to Weigel, and refused to return his telephone calls because I recognized he was a hatchet man out to make conservatives in the media look bad.” It’s too bad that some conservative bloggers bought into his ruse—and that some still defend him.

Weigel came to the Post from the Washington Independent, a publication whose board includes David S. Bennahum as president and CEO. Bennahum’s official biography notes that he worked with gay activist David Brock to establish the “progressive” media watchdog Media Matters for America in 2004 and Rob Stein to create the Democracy Alliance in 2005, where he served as Director of Strategy and Research.

Media Matters was originally run out of the offices of the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress. The Democracy Alliance includes Soros as one of its funders.

“Powered by shared values, the Democracy Alliance has emerged as one of the largest drivers of progressive activist funding in the country,” its website says.

However, the problem is not David Weigel, it’s Katharine Weymouth, the Post publisher. “Under Weymouth,” we noted, “the paper has been moving even further to the left, hiring bloggers such as David Weigel, who has called opponents of gay marriage ‘bigots.’”

The controversy over Weigel demonstrates that the bias has actually gotten worse under Weymouth, who has been in charge for only about two-and-a-half years. Weymouth got the job because she is the granddaughter of legendary Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham.

Weymouth’s actual title is chief executive of Washington Post Media, a division that includes the newspaper as well as, the on-line service where Weigel was dwelling.

Weymouth wasn’t permitted to talk much at this year’s Post annual meeting. Strangely, she sat about ten rows back on one side of the meeting, virtually alone, as Donald Graham, the son of Katharine Graham and chairman of the Washington Post Company, ran the event. When I put a question directly to Weymouth, Graham replied that he would be the one who decided who was allowed to speak at the meeting.

Weymouth was, however, permitted to defend the paper’s controversial publication on page one of two gay males kissing in celebration of gay marriage being legalized in the District of Columbia. Weymouth said she used the photo as a teaching tool for her kids. She said she thought it was useful in teaching kids not to discriminate.

Hundreds of Post subscribers disagreed, cancelling their subscriptions and emailing and writing Weymouth in protest.

Weigel’s assignment was to try to dig up embarrassing information about conservatives, especially those who believe in traditional moral and religious values. He was supposed to infiltrate their meetings and gain their confidence. He never gained mine.

You may recall that he covered the AIM 40th anniversary conference and wrote a piece (he was then with the Washington Independent) focusing on my complaint about the lack of specific information on Obama’s “certification of live birth” concerning where the President was born, in terms of hospital location and attending physician. This kind of information can be found on any original or long-form certificate, including my own. My point, which was just a few minutes in a 40-minute address, was that the media had an obligation to uncover or discover this information without drawing any conclusions in advance about what the real facts would show.

Reporters used to cover the news based on the simple questions of who, what, when, where, why and how. In Obama’s case, of course, they are not even interested. Weigel’s job was to make sure that anyone who even raised any serious questions about Obama or his backers was mocked and ridiculed. This is what Media Matters expected him to do.

The Media Matters crowd must have been pleased that they were able to get him installed as an agent of influence at the Post. His attacks on AIM must have pleased his masters-to-be at the Washington Post, for they decided to hire him and actually task him with writing a “Right Now” blog on the conservative movement. It seemed like a bad joke to me, which is why I would never return his calls. He struck me as an obvious infiltrator.

He was able to maintain the façade of being “on the right” because he had come from Reason, a libertarian magazine. But that was a tip-off to me that he really wasn’t a conservative. A libertarian is someone with socially liberal views who claims to have some conservative views on economics. This mix enables them to mingle somewhat with conservative writers and activists. It is distressing to see so much non-conservative Reason magazine material being picked up by conservative websites and publications.

Even while he was a blogger at the Post, he was still listed as a contributing editor of Reason magazine and This gave him “conservative” cover.

Weigel certainly had the socially liberal views. In a controversy preceding his resignation, he called conservative opponents of gay marriage bigots. But he kept his job.

It turns out his new personal attacks on people like conservative journalist Byron York and Matt Drudge of Drudge Report fame were leaked by someone to Fishbowl DC and then to The Daily Caller with access to an exclusive list of messages exchanged among several hundred liberal and left-wing journalists. It was called “Journolist” and was started by another Post blogger, Ezra Klein, who recommended Weigel for the job and owes his own job to Weymouth. Klein, who came to the Post from the “progressive” American Prospect magazine, is the key to unlocking the puzzle of how and why Weigel was hired by the Post.

At the time of his hiring by the Post, Klein said that he was “looking forward to shamelessly leveraging the Post’s good name to attract more expert commentary to the site.”

It hasn’t worked out so well.

Ironically, the American Prospect calls itself a source of “liberal intelligence.”

So while Weigel was being advertised and promoted by the Post as someone reporting from “inside the conservative movement and the Republican Party,” he was really an infiltrator secretly dumping on—and gathering intelligence from—those he was supposed to be covering objectively.

Although I knew that Weigel was a fraud, I wish I had done more to expose his gig long before now, through an examination of the fascinating route that brought him to the paper.

The background of the Washington Independent, where he went from Reason magazine before he came to the Post, is interesting in this regard. The Washington Independent is published by the American Independent News Network, which began as the Center for Independent Media. Their network includes:

These publications are hardly “independent” of the left, as you can see from a list of funders. They include the Open Society Institute (funded by billionaire George Soros), the Carsey Family Foundation (big funders of the Soros-funded Free Press), the National Education Association, the Tides Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund (named after Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace), and the Gay and Lesbian Fund of Colorado (funded by gay rights multi-millionaire Tim Gill).

“By serving the public thoroughly and honestly,” says the American Independent News Network, “Reporters provide credible, professional, and truthful accounts of events and issues.” It goes on, “Reporters should be honest, tireless, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information for the public.”

Now we know that one of the veterans of this phony “news network” was a plant in the conservative movement.

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