Accuracy in Media

Reporter Dave Weigel has gotten a lot of credit from the mainstream media after he was called out by President Trump for a highly misleading tweet in which he attempted to imply turnout was light for the president’s rally Friday in Pensacola, Fla.

Trump had “put out more public statements critical of @daveweigel than Putin & only one of these guys has thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at the US,” tweeted Stuart Stevens, manager of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

By including Dave Weigel’s @ handle, the president’s statement is inviting followers to gang up on a reporter,” Brian Stelter of CNN tweeted.

“Dave Weigel and I may not agree on much politically, but he’s a damn good reporter,” tweeted Joe Walsh, former GOP congressman. “He made a mistake and owned up to it. That’s not fake news. That’s an honest mistake.”

Weigel was quick to take down his tweet of a photo of a nearly-empty Pensacola Bay Center, the 9,000-seat arena where the president spoke. He said the post stayed up only 20 minutes before David Martosko of the Daily Mail pointed out the problem.

Weigel admitted the photo had been taken hours before the president arrived and that it was “very fair to call me out,” even though the tweet had appeared on his personal account rather than his Washington Post account.

But Trump’s initial response was correct.

“@DaveWeigel @WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/thousands of people outside, on their way in,” the president tweeted. “Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!”

Moreover, Weigel captioned his photo, “Packed to the rafters,” a sneer at Trump’s assessment of the crowd when he took the stage in Pensacola. The house was packed, and Weigel likely knew it before he sent his tweet. 

In 2010, he was forced out after just three months at the Washington Post from his job blogging on the conservative movement when emails appeared showing him to have complete contempt for all things conservative.

Weigel charged conservatives were using the media to “violently, angrily divide America.” He criticized news organizations’ “need to give equal/extra time to ‘real American’ views, no matter how f-ing moronic.”

When Rush Limbaugh, who had said he hopes President Obama fails, had chest pains, Weigel said, “I hope he fails.”

Weigel called Newt Gingrich “an amoral blowhard who resigned in disgrace” and Pat Buchanan “an anti-Semite who was drummed out of the movement by William F. Buckley,” then lamented that “both are now polluting my inbox and TV with their bellowing and minority-bashing. They’re never going to go away or be deprived of their soapboxes.”

He called it “really a disgrace” that Matt Drudge, “an amoral shut-in,” maintains “the influence he does on the news cycle while gay-baiting, lying, and flubbing facts to this degree.”

Perhaps President Trump had this long history of extreme bias in mind when he declined to accept Weigel’s explanation for his misleading tweet.

“@daveweigel of the Washington Post just admitted that his picture was a FAKE (fraud?),” the president tweeted, “showing an almost empty arena last night for my speech in Pensacola when, in fact, he knew the arena was packed (as shown also on  T.V.). FAKE NEWS, he should be fired.”

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