In notable media-personnel news, the Washington Post announced this morning that it is hiring Bloomberg Politics reporter Dave Weigel. Again.
In June 2010, Weigel resigned after a three-month tenure blogging about conservatives. His departure came amid revelations that he had posted controversial messages on an e-mail community known as “Journolist.” Matt Drudge, wrote Weigel on the list, should “handle his emotional problems more responsibly and set himself on fire.” Regarding radio host Rush Limbaugh’s hospitalization, Weigel quipped, “I hope he fails.” The Post’s then-Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli commended Weigel’s work but cited a zero-tolerance policy for “the perception that people are conflicted or bring a bias to their work.”
Says the 33-year-old Weigel: “I think they were right to accept my resignation in 2010. I’ve changed and worked a lot harder since then. I’m a different and more responsible person.”
A memo from The Post says, “Dave will bring his one-of-a-kind perspective and voice to our campaign team, where he will focus on the people and movements that are galvanizing so much of modern politics.” He’ll continue covering the presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul and will anchor a new podcast on politics, says the memo.
After tours at Slate and Bloomberg Politics, Weigel will be sliding into a prime position on the newspaper’s politics team, covering campaigns and the big issues of the day. “It’s the same role that Bob Costa has and Karen Tumulty and Dan Balz,” says Weigel. “It’s what I’ve been trying to do, though never at a place with the reach of The Post.” In scanning the coverage of contemporary media topics, Weigel professes admiration for the team-style reports generated by The Post’s staff. “On any given news story, there was this four-byline Post piece with the best…reported story. I really want to collaborate with people.” He starts at The Post on July 20.
Weigel has some expertise in praising the bona fides of a new employer. Upon leaving Slate for his Bloomberg perch less than a year ago, Weigel explained, “This is still my favorite magazine,” he wrote of Slate, “and I’m only leaving it because Bloomberg’s putting together — I will try to avoid corporate-speak — an ambitious political magazine run by the sort of geniuses who made Bloomberg Businessweek into a great print mag, and New York’s political coverage a daily must-read.” In the intervening months, Bloomberg Politics has all but splintered between power centers in New York and Washington. Last month, a memo from a Washington staffer surfaced citing “resentment” among the Washington crowd.
So is this a journalist fleeing a rickety operation? “Actually, I think that’s the hardest part about leaving. The negative reporting is a little out of date and that’s been fixed and momentum is with it generally,” says Weigel, adding that “all the tension is gone.” Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait earlier this year prioritized a melding of the New York and Washington offices.
In Weigel, The Post hires not only a political enthusiast but also one of the Beltway’s singular Twitter voices. His nearly 160,000 followers get quick and hot takes on politics and sometimes other stuff, too:
Looking tight in #GreeceReferendum. Could come down to crucial Waukeshakos island.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 5, 2015
I bet the people who set off fireworks at 10 pm on July 5 are the same ones who show up at parties after everyone else has left.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) July 6, 2015
What you won’t find in his feed, says Weigel, is “30-round” Twitter spats with random folks looking to antagonize him. “That’s another thing that has changed. I don’t start fights and I don’t punch in a particular direction,” he says. “I will mute people if they’re trying to bait me….I’m very conscious that you can turn off the screen and you don’t have an argument anymore.”
Negative press reports about Bloomberg, says Weigel, prompted a call or two from headhunters, but those chats didn’t lead to any serious talks with other media organizations. Washington Post Managing Editor Kevin Merida contacted him, he says. “I listen to Kevin Merida when he talks — just look at what he’s done.”
Weigel is currently putting the finishing touches on a book not about politics or social media, but about prog rock. It’s titled, “The Show that Never Ends.” Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, it should be known, is a key inspiration for the Erik Wemple Blog.