MEGHAN MCCAIN: Time to let reality show producers into the Washington Post because the drama is real


MEGHAN MCCAIN: Time to let the reality show producers into the newsroom, because the drama inside the Washington Post and America’s legacy media is no better than The Real Housewives

It is a cruel irony that in its death throes America’s legacy print media – some of the nation’s oldest and most revered publications – have been taken over by some of the most the immature forces in our country today.

As a generalization, the ranks of our most established newspapers are occupied by people who attended Ivy League schools, which is not a knock on anyone (I attended an Ivy League institution).

But unfortunately, an elite education has become a hallmark of the disconnect between the media and the rest of the country.

These are people who think that violence isn’t violence when it is done in the name of the causes they support, like the burning and looting of major cities after the murder of George Floyd.

These are people who believe words are, in fact, violence and there is nothing more violent than thoughts, jokes and ideas with which they disagree.

On Monday, the Washington Post provided an example of how low our prized institutions have sunk (or been pulled).

The Post reportedly suspended political journalist Dave Weigel for a month without pay for retweeting a joke from another Twitter user.

The joke read: ‘Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual.’

Weigel's colleague, Felicia Sonmez (above) seized on it and kicked off a public shaming that went on for days.

Weigel's (above) colleague, Felicia Sonmez seized on it and kicked off a public shaming that went on for days.

Dave Weigel’s (right) colleague, Felicia Sonmez (left) seized on it and kicked off a public shaming that went on for days

Is it juvenile? Yes, of course it is.

Do I, as a woman, find it wildly offensive and violent? No, not even a little bit.

It’s the type of corny joke you would most likely hear at any open mic standup routine at your local comedy club.

Twitter is a place where threats of real violence and truly offensive speech are constantly tweeted, retweeted and replied to – this isn’t that.

For his part, Weigel quickly deleted the retweet and issued an apology. But as we know – when the elites smell blood, it only fuels their faux-outrage.

Weigel’s colleague, Felicia Sonmez seized on it and kicked off a public shaming that went on for days.

She got her editors and colleagues involved. She tagged her bosses and basically went on a rampage against another journalist in what seemed like sport rather than sincere offense.

If you have a life and didn’t watch this play out in real-time on Twitter, let me tell you it was a bizarre thing to watch unfold.

The Washington Post, which fancies itself the paper of the intellectual elite, devolved into a fight more suited to a reality show like ‘The Real World’ or something on Bravo.

The Real Housewives maybe? 

It came off as childish, catty and unprofessional.

Nevermind that another Washington Post journalist, Taylor Lorenz (above), is embroiled in her own scandal after multiple people have accused her of false reporting.

Nevermind that another Washington Post journalist, Taylor Lorenz (above), is embroiled in her own scandal after multiple people have accused her of false reporting.

It felt like that intention was to get Weigel fired because, for whatever reason, retweeting a joke is the greatest offense someone can commit at The Washington Post.

Nevermind that another Washington Post journalist, Taylor Lorenz, is embroiled in her own scandal after multiple people have accused her of false reporting.

The Washington Post already made a whopping three corrections to her recent piece on alternative media coverage of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial.

There also used to be a common understanding of collegiality in the media often expressed as ‘there’s no shooting inside the tent.’

This unwritten rule meant that you should not attack your colleagues publicly if you have a problem that can be address privately.

Of course, this tradition was also abused and misused to hide truly despicable behavior.

But in general, it still has value. Professionals should seek to resolve disputes professionally.

Something has shifted, there is no loyalty and everyone at these institutions should be watching their backs.

One wrong comment, one wrong retweet and it’s to the guillotine.

And why should the people who thrive off of these mob mentalities stop when the executives who run these organizations encourage it?

When someone gets suspended for a month without pay for retweeting a childish joke – the mob has won.

And it demonstrates just how far our culture has shifted and how irrational and hysterical the people who run these spaces have become.

If you don’t follow the ‘inside baseball’ of the media news, I don’t blame you.

A lot of the ‘news’ made in this sphere tends to consist of naval-gazing and bigwigs congratulating each other or tearing one another down.

It is all together insufferable and yet in many ways what happens at institutions like the Washington Post serve as a canary in the coal mine.

The closest I have ever come to working in legacy print media was when I joined Newsweek Magazine as a college student. I am grateful to say that I worked for interesting editors and colleagues.

I did, however, also work for four years at ABC News, which is legacy media, nonetheless.

I assure you, even at a daytime talk show this childishness permeated the culture.

In one of my favorite examples of insanity at ABC News, I was being chastised by a producer for wearing a sweatshirt that had a picture of Elvis Presley on it.

The Post reportedly suspended political journalist Dave Weigel for a month without pay for retweeting a joke from another Twitter user.

The Post reportedly suspended political journalist Dave Weigel for a month without pay for retweeting a joke from another Twitter user.

She apparently found him to be a highly offensive figure and was personally insulted that I would wear that sweatshirt in her presence.

Taken all together, it’s no surprise that faith and trust in legacy media is at an all-time low.

Stunts like the one pulled on Dave Weigel only exacerbate the problems.

The Washington Post is known as the paper that broke the Watergate scandal. Now, the nearly 145-year-old paper seems like another bizarre offshoot of the ‘safe space’ hysteria seen on college campuses.

Its reporters, editors and executive are focused on the wrong things, while approval ratings for our current president wallow around the lowest in history, gas prices hover around the highest, and Republicans seem poised to capture their largest Congressional majority in recent memory.

My advice to these people would be to cut the drama and focus on what is really important. But maybe I’m the wrong person to ask. I got out.

The idea of working around people who are this nasty to their colleagues and easily offended sounds like my idea of hell.

These are not places where creative, compelling, off-the-grid personalities can thrive. And those are the types of people, who are willing to go the lengths needed to find great stories and create great journalism.

We all suffer because of this.

The Washington Post should grow up, or if they choose not to, call Andy Cohen and let the reality show producers into the newsroom.

Source

Related posts