Dave Weigel isn’t a journalist, he’s a smear-monger that makes things up and projects his own fantasies onto his stories:
I spoke to Kathryn A. Serkes of the Doctor Patient Medical Association at this morning’s rally against the health care bill, after Serkes had addressed the smallish crowd.
“I’m in contact with folks on the progressive side,” said Serkes. “They’re saying right now that Pelosi’s almost there with the votes. What they’re saying is that there’s some serious arm-twisting — their words were ‘union thuggery.’ One progressive source told me that there was serious union thuggery this weekend, targeting Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.).”
The source, she said, was Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, a liberal blog that’s also paid for polls in some Democratic districts asking voters whether “aye” votes on health care reform would help or hurt their re-election chances. “She said that they’re very close — [liberal blogs] are better at keeping a tab on it. And I think Pelosi’s very close. I think we’re right at the edge.”
I know Katherine, we were on MSNBC together and we’ve spoken about working on the pot legalization measure in California in the future. She tells me that when Weigel approached her and asked her who her “source” was, she didn’t say. He said “It’s Jane Hamsher, isn’t it…I’ve been around.” According to Katherine, she didn’t respond.
Weigel decided to print his own suspicions as fact, and didn’t bother to contact me for confirmation. It’s a pattern with him.
Weigel goes on to accuse me of using the words “union thuggery,” in quotes. He completely put words in my mouth. That is a totally fabricated quote.
I’m not “working” with the tea partiers on health care. But Weigel doesn’t care about the truth — any reporter would’ve contacted me first before printing something like that. He’s just a fantasist printing propaganda, and the Washington Independent has no higher standards than to print it.
I guess trading in political smears is something their donors approve of.
Update I: I found an email from Weigel. Timestamped minutes before he posted, when I was in a meeting.
Update II: Weigel now accuses me of “making up quotes.” This is how Katherine related her exchange with Weigel to me, I didn’t “make up” anything:
In my speech was trying to make a point about bipartisan opposition and I said to the crowd “now I want to say something to you and I don’t want to boo me, but there are liberals on the left and progressives who are very much against this bill too. They think that an individual mandate is immoral. We think it’s unconstitutional, but we’re saying the same things, so when we go tell the Democrats that their own constituents who oppose this as well.” Transpartisan, transpartisan, transpartisan.
Afterwards, Weigel was talking to Amy Kramer, and I went up to them. Amy left, and he recognized me from Grover Norquist’s meeting and asked me about the votes. And I said “well, I’m hearing from the left that Pelosi is very close. And I said it seems to me that the folks on the left are going to have a more accurate count than our side will.”
He said “well who’s your source.” I just looked at him. He said “Is it Jane Hamsher?” I said “what makes you think that? He said something to the effect of, “I’ve been around.”
Then I was talking about votes. I said “look, my thought is, if I were a Democrat and I was planning on voting “no,” I’m not sure if I would announce it because I didn’t want to take a beating. Then I talked about the union stuff — the arm twisting that was going on, Altmire was a target — that’s what I remember of it.
But I didn’t say anything like “I’m working with Jane Hamsher.” We talk about things…we talk about stuff, and we’re also talking about marijuana and hemp legalization. These are “conversations.” I’m a professional person who’s been doing professional policy work. I represent a nonpartisan professional association.
My “source” on where the vote stands is Dave Dayen’s daily column. Katherine says that if he was taping the conversation, he did so without her knowledge.
Update III: Weigel has now posted the audio tape of his conversation with Katherine Serkes at the Tea Party event, in which he does not inform her that he was taping her. The recording confirms that she did use my name, however. I’ve asked Weigel twice now if at any point prior to this segment he informed her that she was being recorded, and he has not responded.
It’s certainly legal for Weigel to do this. But attending a Tea Party event and taping attendees without their knowledge, then posting that tape to discredit them in support of passing the health care bill, sounds more like the actions of a Democratic political operative. Which, again, is pretty standard operating procedure for both parties. But Weigel presents himself as a “journalist” who covers the conservative movement. Yet he used the information he surreptitiously gathered at a conservative event to upbraid someone for so much as speaking to a participant. He erroneously concluded this constituted “working together,” in the absence of any evidence, and breathlessly promoted his story without fact checking it. The tape was quickly picked up and widely trumpeted by the JournoList set in an attempt to marginalize and discredit event attendees, who trusted Weigel and thought they were speaking in confidence to a fellow conservative who attends Grover Norquist’s weekly meeting.
For the record, I don’t think Weigel is a Democrat, or that he ascribes to any particular ideology. He wrote for Reason Magazine for years and called himself a libertarian, but the health care bill he vigorously supports is just about as non-libertarian as it gets. Rather, he aspires to be a member of a cliquish, insider set with the moral flexibility to align themselves with anyone in power. But if he’s going to cover political events, he should acknowledge up front that he is not there as an objective observer.