Weigel in 2011
September 26, 1981|
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
|Residence||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Education||Journalism and political science major|
|Employer||The Washington Post|
Early years and background
Weigel was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. After moving to England in 1998, he graduated from the American Community School in Cobham, Surrey, in "the high Tory London suburbs" of the London commuter belt, in 2000.
He moved to Chicago in 2000 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2004 from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, with a double major in journalism and political science and a minor in history. During this time, Weigel was a frequent poster on George Starostin's popular 'Music Babble' forum. While at college, Weigel wrote for The Daily Northwestern and was editor-in-chief of the campus conservative newspaper Northwestern Chronicle.
In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, Weigel voted for Ralph Nader, and served as a Delaware college elector for Nader. In the 2004 election, Weigel voted for John Kerry. Weigel later wrote that "[he regrets] the Nader vote, but not the Kerry vote, as a weak Democratic president with a conservative Congress would have been pretty tolerable in retrospect". He voted for Jack Ryan in the Illinois United States Senate election, 2004 Republican primary.
In early 2007, Weigel became a registered Republican in the Washington, D.C. area, in order to vote for Ron Paul at the Republican primary stage of the 2008 presidential election. In 2008, Weigel voted for Barack Obama, explaining "I really don't think McCain has the temperament to be President or the interest in standing up to a Democratic Congress... I've got the luxury of a guilt-free, zero-impact vote in the District of Columbia, which I would cast for Bob Barr if he was on the ballot".
In January 2011, Weigel stated that he had voted for Republican Patrick Mara in elections to the Council of the District of Columbia, and that he had voted for Mara "every time he's been on the ballot".
In the Republican Party presidential primaries 2012, Weigel voted for Jon Huntsman, despite his having withdrawn from the race, because "If you looked past his whiff of a tax plan (Huntsman recommended using the flat rates that Simpson and Bowles recommended not using), the guy had a few good ideas." In the 2012 general election, Weigel voted for Gary Johnson.
Weigel began his professional career as an editorial assistant and researcher for USA Today's editorial page and as a reporter for Campaigns & Elections. He has contributed articles to Slate, The Daily Beast, Time, The Guardian, The American Prospect, The American Spectator, The Washington Monthly, The American Conservative, Politico, and The Nation. He has appeared on NPR's Fresh Air and MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. Weigel has also blogged for The Economist's "Democracy in America" blog, and guest-blogged for Andrew Sullivan's "Daily Dish" blog. His first book, The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock, was published in June 2017.
Weigel was a contributing editor of the libertarian Reason magazine and was one of its staff political writers from 2006 to 2008. In 2006 and 2010, Weigel guest-blogged at Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish for The Atlantic. He wrote for The Washington Independent from November 2008 until early 2010. Weigel also served as an assistant at USA Today's editorial page and as a reporter for Campaigns & Elections. He wrote frequently at the Washington Independent between 2008 and 2010 and was one of the "best sourced" reporters there, according to Michael Calderone of Politico.
The Washington Post
Weigel then took a job writing the "Right Now" column on The Washington Post website focusing on aspects of the conservative movement. Weigel told Politico that "If readers get a deeper understanding of these people, their strategy, and their ideas, then I'm doing my job." The national editor of The Washington Post said Weigel was hired to add a voice to the paper's online politics coverage. Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post said the online columns are supposed to contain a mixture of reporting and opinion.
Weigel was criticized by conservatives for tweets that he made on May 2, 2010, that disparaged news editor Matt Drudge, and that called opponents of same-sex marriage "bigots". Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America responded that Weigel's "arrogance disqualifies him as a serious journalist assigned to covering conservatives." Politics Daily noted that The Washington Post's guidelines require Post journalists to "refrain from writing, tweeting or posting anything ... that could be perceived as reflecting political, racial, sexist, religious or other bias or favoritism that could be used to tarnish our journalistic credibility." Weigel apologized on May 3.
Controversy over leaked e-mails and resignation from The Washington Post
In late June 2010, excerpts of several of Weigel's private emails from JournoList were posted online by the website Fishbowl DC and later by Tucker Carlson's conservative news site, The Daily Caller. JournoList had been started in 2007 by Ezra Klein as an invitation-only discussion and debate forum for left-of-center bloggers and reporters. The excerpts of Weigel's archived emails contained negative remarks about various public figures associated with American conservatism such as Pat Buchanan, Matt Drudge, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh as well as being critical of the way many news outlets cover the more fringe elements and so-called "grassroots" members of American conservatism.
Weigel said all of the emails were sent before he joined The Washington Post. He apologized online before the second round of email excerpts was published on the Tucker Carlson site, explaining that he had thought the off-the-record listserv environment was a place where he could "talk bluntly to friends". However, The Washington Post responded that the apology could not save his job because "the damage was too severe." Jim Geraghty of the National Review Online wrote that "there was definitely a perception that his blog was designed to make conservatives look bad."
As a result of the leaked emails, Weigel resigned from The Washington Post and Ezra Klein shut down JournoList. The executive editor of The Washington Post said the paper "can't have any tolerance for the perception that people are conflicted or bring a bias to their work.” Journalist Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic said Weigel was forced to resign under an "old media," "non-ideological standard that just doesn't exist". In closing down JournoList, Klein said it had "become a weapon, and insofar as people's careers are now at stake, it has to die". Describing Weigel as "an idiosyncratic libertarian who likes some politicians and media figures, and not others", Klein said that Weigel's "likes and dislikes do not fall neatly across party lines". Remarking that leaked information can show only a partial, cherry picked truth, and that it can be just plain wrong, Klein said that if other emails had been chosen, Weigel could have been made to look like a conservative extremist.
After The Washington Post
Politico, listing Weigel as one of the "50 politicos to watch", commented that "Weigel may have lost a blogging job with The Washington Post over his leaked e-mails to an off-the-record liberal e-mail list, but he didn't exactly damage his career. If anything, the enthusiastic endorsements of his reporting skills after he left the Post last month brought Weigel to the attention of a wider audience than the relatively small group of conservative activists and the reporters who write about them for whom Weigel has long been a must-read" and that he expected to sign on to "some outlet that has a big online presence" by the end of July.
In August 2010, Weigel joined Slate magazine (owned by The Washington Post) as a political reporter. Weigel said "This is the magazine that invented the sort of journalism I want to do", he continued, "And I'm very pleased that I'll get to continue working the beat I developed at the Post, the Independent, and Reason". Weigel ran a blog covering politics, focusing largely but not exclusively on the conservative movement, his area of expertise. He also wrote long-form pieces, including a multi-part series on progressive rock.
In September 2014, Weigel left Slate in preparation for a new job at Bloomberg Politics.
Return to The Washington Post
After only nine months at Bloomberg Politics, Weigel returned to The Washington Post on 20 July 2015. His beat was to cover grass-root movements as part of the Post′s presidential coverage.
On December 8, 2017, Weigel tweeted a photo of the crowd at President Donald Trump's rally at the Pensacola Bay Center in Florida that showed many empty seats. He quickly deleted the tweet after it was pointed out that the photo was taken before the venue filled up. Trump addressed the incident the next day on his Twitter account and demanded that Weigel be fired. Weigel replied and apologized, writing "Was confused by the image of you walking in the bottom right corner."
Weigel was later quoted as saying “It was a bad tweet on my personal account, not a story for Washington Post. I deleted it after like 20 minutes. Very fair to call me out.”
Weigel was mentioned in a 2006 article in The New York Times about bloggers who roomed together. At that time, he shared a house with fellow Reason.com writer Julian Sanchez that they had dubbed "Casa de Libertarios".
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