Lobbying Firm Director Demands That WaPo Fire Blogger For Not Being ‘Unbiased Bystander’

Matt DornicMedia blog FishbowlDC instigated a supposed “controversy” surrounding former Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel, who reported on conservative politics. Yesterday, FishbowlDC published excerpts of e-mails from Weigel’s messages on a private listserv known as “JournoList.” In the e-mails, Weigel mocked Fox News coverage of Ron Paul fans, referring to them as “Paultards,” and sarcastically suggested Matt Drudge should “handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire.”

This morning, Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller website revealed more e-mails from Weigel criticizing the far right for using the media to “violently, angrily divide America.” According to the e-mails, Weigel claimed some on the right have been motivated by “racism” as well as “white privilege.” FishbowlDC quickly highlighted The Daily Caller’s find, giddily commenting “the heat is on.” Later in the day, FishbowlDC writers Matt Dornic and Betsy Rothstein wrote a post attacking the Post for hiring Weigel, commenting, “If you’re a reporter you’re supposed to be an unbiased bystander.” (Dornic and Rothstein subsequently edited their post, changing the line to “you’re supposed to be objective“). Hours later, Weigel resigned from the Post.

However, with FishbowlDC bloggers like Dornic grandstanding and setting journalistic standards so strict that one cannot even express a “bias” against “racism” and “white privilege,” he does not apply the same standard to his own conduct. Earlier this year, Dornic was hired as a “Director” for the mega-lobbying and communications firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates (QGA), a firm that not only does direct lobbying, but advances the agenda of their clients by helping them gain favorable coverage in the media.

On FishbowlDC’s website, QGA’s clients and events are regularly promoted with no disclosure that Dornic is a PR promoter for the firm:

— Dornic wrote a post earlier this month promoting an event with former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) at a party with his boss and QGA namesake, Jack Quinn.

— In April, FishbowlDC published multiple posts promoting a QGA party with D.C. journalists.

— Susanna Quinn, wife of QGA managing partner Jack Quinn, is promoted regularly by FishbowlDC, as are her social and philanthropic activities.

— FishbowlDC has publicized a new hire for AARP, a client of QGA, and Dornic also has promoted very positive stories about companies like Sony, another QGA client.

— Dornic pens blog posts about his colleagues at his lobbying firm.

Of course, Dornic probably sees no conflict of interest in his duel lobbying/media blogging role, but he was quick to attack Weigel for opinions expressed in private e-mails on a listserv for fellow journalists.

Journalists like the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg have seized upon the FishbowlDC-concocted controversy to smear Weigel. Goldberg blogged today: “The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training.” But as the American Prospect’s Adam Serwer notes on twitter, Goldberg “linked Saddam to [al Qaeda] and said Iraq had WMD” yet “criticizes the Post for hiring Weigel.”