WaPo journalist suspended for retweeting a joke, even after an apology

June 7, 2022 • 8:30 am

What would you do if you were editor of the Washington Post and one of your reporters, David Weigel, retweeted this tweet.

This, along with another WaPo story, is the subject of Bari Weiss’s latest column in the WaPo. It involves the hypocrisy of a paper that would severely punish a journalist for the retweet above but do nothing about another one who lied. Click to read, but if you read Weis often, you should subscribe (I do):

Now I admit the retweet above, while a bit humorous, is also in terrible taste, and were I editor I would have called in Weigel, told him that he has a public presence on Twitter, asked him to apologize, and tell him never to do that again.  But of course after the predictable social-media reaction, they did more than that.

Weiss:

It began with a joke. Actually, it was a retweet of a joke. The Washington Post’s politics reporter David Weigel retweeted the following joke this past Friday: “Every girl is bi. You just have to figure out if it’s polar or sexual.” I know what you’re thinking: Call the police on this man immediately.

I smirked when I read it. Not a full laugh, but a chuckle. Weigel apologized for the “offensive joke” later the same day: “I apologize and did not mean to cause any harm,” he said.

But it was already too late.

His colleague, Felicia Sonmez, had seized on the tweet, starting a public shaming of Weigel as a sexist. She’s spent the past few days reposting others calling her a heroslamming one colleague who was silly enough to defend Weigel; posting about that colleague and tagging the bosses. Oh, and throwing editors under the bus (repeatedly).

Never mind collegiality or handling minor disputes privately. Never mind that Weigel quickly took down the post and apologized for the poor taste. Never mind that they were friends and he had signed onto a petition in support of her as she geared up to sue the paper for discrimination (that suit was dismissed with prejudice by a D.C. judge in March). It was David Weigel’s time to be punished.

“I have long considered Dave a good friend,” Sonmez wrote. “It’s painful and confusing when friends say and do things that are wrong, and makes it all the more uncomfortable to call them out—even though it’s necessary to do so.”

The Post’s response on Monday was not to chide Sonmez for indiscretion, or to suggest a Twitter time-out, but to suspend David Weigel for a month without pay.

This, as Weiss suspects, may be the beginning of a permanent separation between Weigel and the Post.  Even if the punishment is temporary, what happened to Weiss may happen to Weigel: he won’t be formally fired, but his colleagues will create such a toxic atmosphere for him that he’ll leave.  To my mind, suspension without pay is far too severe an offense for this retweet.

But wait—there’s more! Another Post reporter committed what I think is a worse offense: probable lying and lazy reporting.

Amazingly, this story competed with another Post drama from the weekend: The paper issued three corrections to a story by the technology columnist Taylor Lorenz, which still contains at least one obvious falsehood. The paper claims that Lorenz reached out to a source for comment, which the source says she didn’t do, and Lorenz later admitted she didn’t do (but the story still contains the lie). Even a CNN media reporter said it was “weird WaPo can’t get this basic detail straight.” Lorenz freaked out about CNN noting the correction debacle and said that doing so was “irresponsible & dangerous.” Yes: Dangerous!

So let’s get this straight: at the paper that cracked wide open the biggest presidential scandal in history, the paper that has long defined great political reporting, the paper of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee and David Broder, journalists lie and publicly attack their colleagues and remain comfortably in their positions. And a reporter is suspended without pay for a retweet.

Lorenz’s story is here and just below is the Post’s correction:

Below is the tweet from CNN reporter Oliver Darcy with part of the correction. Note that Lorenz blames the error on an editor, but the Post denies that.  What the Post did do was remove the false statement without acknowledging it: a journalist no-no.

The paper was supposed to improve under the new editor, but there’s not much sign of that to date.

It sure looks as if Lorenz had a part in this issue; after all, she could have told the Post to issue a correction, and I don’t believe her when she blames the errors on the editors. But she’s suffered no opprobrium from the Internet, and hasn’t yet incurred a suspension.  The criticism of Lorenz comes from other journalistic outlets.

If Lorenz did this, she deserves a talking-to and then a requirement to issue an apology. I doubt this will happen.

The rest of Weiss’s piece is largely about how liberating she’s found publishing on Substack to be, and why. But she also hurls a few zingers at the “mainstream media”:

To finally leave old media required me to confront some realities. Among them: The Washington Post is not the same place that broke Watergate, and The New York Times isn’t the same place that got the Pentagon Papers.

It’s not that the excellent, old-school reporters aren’t there. They are. They just don’t—or can’t—control the culture.

Partly that’s because of weakness and cowardice at the top of the masthead. Partly it’s because you can pretty much guarantee the kind of worldview you’re going to get when you hire journalists pedigreed by Harvard and Brown and Yale. They tend to think almost exactly the same way about almost every situation—and Twitter only reinforces the groupthink.

As Andrew Sullivan said, “We’re all on campus now.”  But re Weigel: a retweet is not a violation of journalistic ethics, it’s in bad taste. But it’s also not a suspending offense. That it proved to be is explained by Weiss above: the nastiness of social media and the groupthink of liberal newspaper reporters. What is again missing is a bit of empathy.

81 thoughts on “WaPo journalist suspended for retweeting a joke, even after an apology

  1. Democracy dies in plain view at Wapo, it seems.

    Farcical and juvenile behaviour from its journalists.

    1. That may be true, but plenty of people have had Taibbi and Greenwald’s number for many years.

      1. Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person by the quality of the enemies they make. Taibbi seems to have made many of the right ones.

  2. Regardless of whether one thinks Weigel should be punished for his retweet, the fact that he posted it indicates that this person’s judgement is so poor that how can one trust his journalism? In today’s climate of opinion, how could he not think that such a tweet would result in a harsh and swift backlash?

    1. Ummm. . . . I don’t see that it follows that if one tells an off-color joke, you can’t trust their journalism? He may have poor social judgement but still be a good reporter. And the problem IS “today’s climate of opinion” which is overly captious and eager to punish. It looks as if you want this guy fired over this, in which case you ARE participating in the reprehensible “climate of opinion”.

      Somehow you don’t seem to get the point that we need a more empathic and forgiving climate of opinion, and not one that damns somebody’s journalism for retweeting an off-color joke.

      1. A person that jokes about a serious mental disease, bipolar disorder, that has degraded the lives of millions, not only the victims, but families as well, strikes me as the one that lacks empathy. This is a joke that is actually hurtful to sufferers that are trying to cope with a disease that has no cure, but perhaps can be controlled. No, I am not calling on Weigel to be fired. I only hope that this incident is a learning moment for him and that he is expressing real remorse for what he did.

        1. Chill out and lighten up. You will feel better when you develop a sense of humor, dont take things personally, and stop accusing people of lacking empathy because they tell a joke that you think will “offend” some people. No bipolar sufferer was personally addressed or named in this joke. It didnt have their name on it. It is in fact a joke involving language and involving
          contemporary topics that are being argued on the internet and in the media. It is in fact not only funny but completely APPROPRIATE. Remorse for telling a joke? Who are you to demand “remorse”? Who are you to dictate the language or thoughts of other people? Did someone guarantee you that no one would ever hurt your feelings or say anything “hurtful”?
          I will utilize my own free speech right and say that you are a self righteous self appointed moralist. And that is my polite version. I have lots more in store if you keep writingthese moral lectures telling people how to think or not to think. Dont tempt me.

          1. To stay within the bounds of civility, which is difficult at this moment, I will simply say I have considered your comment, and exercising my free speech rights, I will say I don’t give a crap what you say. Apparently, you have failed to notice that I have not called for any punishment for Weigel. And, yes, I think Weigel should be remorseful. That is, he should be sorry for gratuitously demeaning for no reason than for a cheap laugh a group of people suffering from a disease. The “joke” was akin to one that mentioned African-Americans liking watermelon. So, once again exercising my free speech, I’ll be as moralistic as I think necessary. You believe in morals, don’t you? You, in turn, are free to spill as much bile as you want.

            1. What’s the deal with most Black people liking watermelon? I don’t know if it’s true but so what if it is? Personally, I’ve never liked watermelon. I find it watery and stringy. But I never imagined it was because I’m white. The objection seems to be along the lines of, “How dare you make a stereotypic observation of someone of a different race, especially if you’re white?” I really don’t get it. I must be missing something.

              1. This Wikipedia article discusses the origins and development of the watermelon stereotype. The essence of it is this:

                “The first published caricature of Black people reveling in watermelon is believed to have appeared in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in 1869.Defenders of slavery used it to portray African Americans as a simple-minded people who were happy when provided with watermelon and a little rest. The slaves’ enjoyment of watermelon was also seen by the Southern people as a sign of their own supposed benevolence.The stereotype was perpetuated in minstrel shows often depicting African Americans as ignorant and lazy, given to song and dance and inordinately fond of watermelon.”

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon_stereotype

              2. Perhaps I’m one of those rare people willing to accept that Black people might like watermelon a lot while I’m still dead-set against slavery.

          2. Props to you, Lorna.
            It was funny and clever, and touched a nerve of recognition, which is all a joke has to do. And it’s a high bar.

            The joke is an example of zeugma, a form of syllepsis used with great and oft-quoted effect by the British comedy duo Flanders and Swan in “Madeira m’dear.”

            1. Wonderful! I have learned two new words, and how to describe this:
              “And he said as he hastened to put out the cat
              The wine, his cigar, and the lamps”

              Big fan of F&S!

              1. “She let go her glass with a shrill little cry (ah.)
                Crash! tinkle it fell to the floor.
                When he asked ‘What in Heaven?!’ she made no reply,
                Up her mind and a dash for the door!”

                Don’t get me started…..

              2. The Limelighters had an equally delicious version led by Lou Gottlieb’s perfect “vocal”.

        2. Here is another way to look at it Historian, woman have been bashed, punched, degraded, smashed and worse for centuries.
          Bad taste it is but NOTHING like the harms and oppression of rights dished out over that time.
          This precious twat needs a reality check and should have replied HEY! BAD TASTE and you’re a c**t.
          Now can we move on to something more meaningful.

        3. I don’t entirely disagree with Historian. Mental health is a funny strange thing. There is the question of which mental health issues people consider funny, and why: psychopathy, pedophilia, profound mental disabilities, OCD… the list goes on.

          A lot of humor is based around misunderstandings, and joking about international misunderstandings is now considered xenophobic, gender misunderstandings are now considered sexist. Joking about mental health is moving in that direction, too. There is not a lot of humor that will be left over once jokes about mental health and mental ability are off of the table. (I’m not saying that the human tradition of humor is a sufficient reason to retain those types of jokes.)

          I also know that people with close ties with people with mental health issues and mental disabilities tend to react more strongly about this than people without such ties. I don’t think I will miss this type of humor when it is gone, but I am not campaigning to banish it.

        4. I agree.
          People with a mental illness cannot be expected to see the funny side of jokes, or plays on words.
          I have a metal illness – unfortunately I thought the wordplay was clever – but I put that down to my abridged mental faculties.
          You seem well-adjusted and sharp, so I assume you do not have a mental impairment – I do so appreciate you speaking FOR those with a mental illness…we always need ‘normies’ to stand up for us and explain our fragility to the world.
          In fact I wasn’t hurt by the joke until you pointed out that the joke is actually hurtful…again, i blame my impairment for not realising I was offended.
          Keep fighting the good fight…on my behalf.
          In turn, I shall speak up for those with conditions I do not have, but know enough about to generalise and pontificate…I’m thinking a worthy cause are those many who are self-aggrandasing, virtue-signaling, officious, self-important, superior sorts (you must know some) – they too need our empathy for they seem to recive nothing but contempt for being born that way.

        5. “This is a joke that is actually hurtful to sufferers that are trying to cope with a disease that has no cure, but perhaps can be controlled. ”

          I’m bi-polar. I find jokes about my myriad health issues cathartic and usually quite hilarious. In fact, I desperately need humor about my issues. I don’t need you to defend my sensitive mind. Thanks.

          1. Carbon Coby,

            I agree with your point.

            For instance my son has a deadly peanut allergy which has been a source of great anxiety for him and especially us, his parents. Luis CK in one of his specials made a joke along the lines “Maybe if just touching a peanut will kill you, you’re not supposed to live” and that if everyone just covered their eyes for a year and let peanut allergic kids and people eat peanuts, we’d be done with this problem.

            We laughed uproariously!

            Some people think “go ahead and make jokes about other things…just not about MY thing!”

            Or even that we should be careful to joke about anything that troubles people in the world…in which case there would be no humor…and much of the point of humor would be lost.

            1. Humor is such a cathartic tool! I make fun of myself constantly. I’d probably be long dead if I couldn’t!

              I can’t even imagine how groups like black Americans must feel, with all these other people constantly speaking on their behalf to push policies that over 80% of them disagree with according to polls (and then many of those same people invading their communities and causing billions of dollars in damage and reducing policing to “protest” on their behalf).

              There will always be this strain of sanctimonious, self-righteous person who thinks they know what’s best for everyone, and doesn’t feel any need to actually ask those people if that’s what they want (and probably won’t believe them even once they say it. Historian hasn’t backed off of his position). Because they’re just that much smarter and better than everyone else.

              I’ve known Holocaust survivors who used to tell the darkest, most hilarious jokes about the Holocaust. If people would get off their high horses for just a moment, they’d see that us little people actually need humor, and we certainly don’t need them speaking for us.

              EDIT: sorry if this seemed aggressive. I obviously agree with you. This is just such an irritating issue for me.

            2. By the way, I know how much it sucks to have a loved one with a deadly nut allergy! It’s a good thing he has parents who are smart and can watch out for him, until he’s old enough to do so himself. And I’m glad that joke made you guys happier, because it sure as hell slayed me too!

              1. Thanks Carbon Copy.

                My son is 20 now. Years ago he got in on the early research trials for the peanut oral immunotherapy that came to be known as palforzia. It involved ingesting a peanut protein mixture in ever increasing doses. It’s not without it’s issues, but overall we have been able to be much more relaxed about his peanut allergy.
                He eats a peanut a day, could eat a handful, and is now very unlikely to ingest
                enough peanut protein by mistake (e.g. at a restaurant) to cause a dangerous reaction.

                Yay medical progress!

    2. When I was still working, years ago, I discouraged my people from passing on jokes by email, on the basis that you cannot control further dissemination once the email has left your PC. There was always the risk that some po-faced recipient could choose to take serious offence.

  3. Weigel’s bad joke reminded me of a very mild version of the sort of jokes Ricky Gervais told in his latest standup show, “Supernature”, on Netflix. As expected, Gervais’s jokes are much, much worse but told with a big, toothy grin. Gervais is doing his best to get us past this period of hypersensitive virtue signaling. By the way, Gervais covers his usual subjects of biological existence, evolution, sex and gender, and poop jokes. Not everyone’s cup of tea but my wife and I enjoyed it.

    1. Ricky Gervais continues to be my comedy hero. Incredibly intelligent, pushes all the right buttons, called out Hollywood for years before the media was finally forced to report on the scum there, fights for the right causes, and writes/directs/acts in incredible and sensitive shows like After Life and Extras. It’s nice to have a popular genius on the right side of things. He’s at Stephen Fry levels now.

      1. He’s like J. K. Rowling, so rich as to be immune, a fact that he mentions many times during the show. Though I suppose if he caused people to boycott Netflix, his show could be taken away and he wouldn’t like that. It seems unlikely though.

  4. The new DEI/Title IX orthodoxy absolutely forbids jokes related in any way to sensitive (i.e., sacred) topics. On the other hand, joking about some right-wing fetish (like Fox News, say) is deemed insufficiently serious. To be on the safe side, therefore, it is prudent to avoid jokes of any kind. As.
    Bill Maher put it in one monologue: kids used to go to college to lose their virginity, now they go to lose their sense of humor. Then they graduate and
    get jobs in the media, museums, NGOs, or other institutions.

  5. Q: How many people does Lorenz have to lie about and doxx before being fired?

    A: There is no number of people that would be sufficient. The only firable offense is if Lorenz lies about and/or doxxes the “wrong” kind of person.

  6. I have argued that Wokeism is not a religion as such. but It does use a lot of the same social mechanics. So a poor taste tweet, or its retransmission, becomes blasphemous if doesn’t follow Right Thought. And if you blaspheme you must be unworthy of being part of the congregation. You must therefore be an Apostate.

    I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.
    ~ Groucho Marx.

    Unless, of course, you must be a member to keep working…

  7. The joke is sexist, no doubt about it. And probably inappropriate for someone in Weigel’s position.

    But it’s humor, goddamit. Much of humor plays off stereotypes, including sexist stereotypes — in both directions.

    Plus, what gives a joke like this its humor is not its sexism (or at least not its sexism alone); it’s the subtext of “See what I did there? Took it in a direction you didn’t see coming.”

      1. It wouldn’t help. The new illuminati do not recognize the existence of
        jokes. For them, everything in their “lived experience” is not merely serious, but of transcendent importance.

        1. Not really if it is done right. It is often done by immediately following the joke tweet with the “that was a joke” tweet. Presumably, readers react to the joke with laughing or crying and then read the disclaimer. In cases like this, the 2nd tweet is basically saying, “I found this funny but it doesn’t reflect a deeply held belief.” I suppose it is a bit like the oft-seen “Retweets are not endorsements”. Of course, this won’t deflect the worst of the pecksniffs but I suspect it helps a bit. On the other hand, perhaps it is not so funny a joke as to be worth risking one’s job and/or reputation. A sad state of the world, IMHO.

      2. Is the issue that people did not understand that it is a joke? Or is it that people understood it to be a joke but nevertheless thought it inappropriate? If it is the latter we should consider extending ‘This is a joke’ to ‘This is an appropriate joke.’ That should settle it.

        1. If you have to explain the joke and how it didn’t reflect your opinion on certain population segments, it is perhaps best to just not tell the joke. Of course, this is letting the pecksniffs win. It’s a judgement call.

          1. Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. Folks can learn something in the process, but the object of the procedure winds up dead.

          2. It’s always been like that. Telling a joke to the wrong audience is bad. Of course, in the past, the worst that usually happened is that people thought you were an arsehole. Now they haver the ability to destroy your life.

      3. > something equivalent to “This is a joke.”

        How about a trigger warning?

        I just watched the new Very Special Episode of The Orville – and was surprised/impressed that there was no trigger warning about suicide. These are interesting times.

    1. I think a problem with tweeting / re-tweeting jokes like this is that there isn’t any context but what each individual that sees the tweet might imagine. For example, in a stand up comedy routine there is lots of context and a given joke is much more likely to be perceived as okay in that context compared to if it were merely a contextless couple of sentences bouncing around the twitterverse.

  8. The hire and fire (or suspend) culture looks dystopian to me, but I also don‘t fundamentally understand how it is supposed to work:

    I find it unacceptable when a private person gets punished professionally for what they tweet on their own time, with some obvious fuzziness (when your private statements are obviously opposed to those required professionally).

    However, a professional account is for tweeting one‘s articles, and maybe (very maybe) answering adjacent questions, but certainly not for joking around, twitter banter, or calling the woke brigade on a colleage.

    There is just no version where this makes any sense to me.

    1. That is one thing that I find fundamentally frustrating – that people, public figures especially, don’t just operate multiple accounts. The previous POTUS should have used one account for personal tweets and a second one for office-related ones. The only industry I’m aware of where people maintain truly separate accounts is Hollywood, where actors’ publicists write their public-facing posts – and try not to alienate their audience.(I’m not sure if Twitter TOS allows for multiple accounts, but … ya know.)

      1. I have commented on the Trumpian Social Media Situation in a similar vein, however would argue that a POTUS is never truly private. The private is only apparent in the triviality of what is commented upon — preferring one type of pizza over another and suchlike (though even such matters can be Serious Business to some people).

        That is, Trump (and any person in such high offices) should have access to one account — the presidential one — only. Everything would count as an official statement, including Pizza-statements, but which would be informally understood as private opinion of the person in office. It must be so, as to not invite the establishment of a Propaganda Ministry that can under the guise of “just private opinion” make far-reaching statements that exploit the ambiguity of private and professional. The reason for this is that the excuse of “just having an opinion” is far too dangerous in that position. If the POTUS declares countries as “shitholes” the officials there cannot just give it a pass — they are justified to view this as a presidential statement, and with that everything but the most innocuous statements must pass muster.

        1. I don’t think anyone can really share differing opinions on different accounts and be able to defend themselves on the basis of one being “official” and the other not, or any other such distinction. Not on anything that really matters anyway. Same for the trick politicians sometimes use these days, claiming that their social media account is controlled by someone else. Such people are trying to have things both ways. It’s as if to say, “If you liked what I said, then it was me saying it, otherwise it was someone else.”

          1. You confuse matters. The “PR problem” is for the employer here, not the individual. Hence, the employer can and should dismiss complaints made against statements marked as private as none of their business. And indeed, this is by principle. It used to be a hard-won Western value to not require perfect lockstep of every employee with their masters, and the label of “private” is indeed perfectly sufficient. The employer should even refrain from commenting on anything, including whether or not they find the joke funny, but simply say “we do not take interest in, nor comment on private activities of our employees”. It‘s authoritarian to want anything else. What a nightmare when you have to approve every joke! I‘m all for pseudonyms though, too.

            The Trump situation is reversed. Here, the office is so high and all-encompassing that a President is always a representative. In such cases, I just argued that indeed all they declare is basically official.

            You bring up a third case, confusingly, where someone personally denies responsibilty, i.e. here something professional is bleeding into the private. You can have that when a spokesperson must make a statement they personally object to. That‘s not the question here.

            1. All employees are representatives of their companies. They can and should be held responsible for what they tweet on their “private” account. First, the accounts we’re talking about aren’t really private anyway if the public can read them. I think the term “personal” fits the situation better. On the other hand, a company that fires someone based on something their employee said on their own personal Facebook account could be subject to a wrongful discharge suit. Its outcome would depend on what was said, the employee agreement, the nature of their job, company employment policy, and state and federal law. I don’t think there should be universal protection just because the objectionable statement was made on a personal account. Same for employee behavior in the physical world.

          2. Part of this may be a generational issue. Twitter is not just about sharing opinions. Some people use Twitter to coordinate private events. Consider any number of Hollywood A-Listers who have a publicist run their official public account; many of them still want a semi-private account with PMs, etc., that they themselves access, especially on-the-go. They still want to send jokes, etc., to their friends, even if they do not want their audience to see it.

            Twitter use varies significantly by demographic. I know many companies in Asia that only offer customer service through Twitter, not email or telephone; accordingly, I know people who maintain multiple Twitter accounts so that their various personas do not bleed into each other, so their co-workers don’t see a customer service complaint they’ve filed about a sex toy, for example, or a messy family divorce due to an accident with the aforementioned sex toy.

            1. I wasn’t questioning the need for multiple accounts. There are many cases where that makes sense. My objection was to those who attempt to escape responsibility for their tweets by making claims like, “That tweet was not done on my official account.” or “Other people in my company are responsible for that Twitter account so don’t blame me.” This is not a valid defense. If you own the account, you are responsible for its tweets.

  9. … the paper that has long defined great political reporting, the paper of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee and David Broder …

    Not so sure I’d include Broder in that pantheon. Sure, he was the dean of Washington insiders since Christ left Chicago until his death about a decade ago. But he was never much more than an oracle of conventional wisdom.

    1. The “his” in “his death” refers to Broder’s. Despite his overhyped reputation, Broder didn’t arise again three days after he was buried and roll back the rock — that we know of, anyway. 🙂

  10. Blimey, WaPo is having a bad week. It was arguably WaPo which provided the most damning context which enormously helped Depp’s defamation case against Heard: with its online headline, which it , not Heard, wrote, ‘I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change.’

  11. I agree that suspending Weigel for the sexist joke is an overreaction, but before attributing that solely to wokeness, it’s worth noting that Felicia Somnez, the person who tweeted the complaint about Weigel, was also suspended by WaPo back in 2020 for a tweet she made. She tweeted a link to an article about the rape allegations against Kobe Bryant shortly after his death. If anything, that suspension was even more egregious than Weigel’s, and in that case one can’t plausibly blame woke zealotry.

    The problem seems to be that WaPo has a terrible social media policy for its journalists, where they react to online outrage about tweets with suspensions. Sometimes this outrage comes from the woke (as in the Weigel example), but sometimes it comes from other sources (as in the Somnez example).

    I will also note that I don’t recall many of the free speech supporters who are standing up for Weigel now being equally vocal about Somnez’s case a couple of years ago (although Weigel himself, to his credit, was vocal about it).

      1. I never thought you were being hypocritical. I assumed that you didn’t know about the Somnez case. However, I do think it’s pretty implausible that people working in the media (like Weiss, for instance) didn’t know about this. It was a pretty big deal at the time it happened, and I expect pretty much everyone involved in American journalism heard about it. It is possible, thought, that people forgot the details, so I don’t think that there is definite hypocrisy going on here.

    1. I do not see how the two case are comparable. In Weigel’s case, it was a joke about no one in particular. In Somez’s case it was an allegation of criminal behaviour directed at a particular individual.

      1. First, itt wasn’t an allegation of criminal behaviour coming from Somnez. It was a link to an article discussing well-known allegations of criminal behaviour.

        Second, yes, of course the tweets were about different things. But I’m not sure why you think that’s significant. Is it that you think the suspension was justified in the case of Somnez’s tweet?

        1. A distinction without a difference. Somnez clearly agreed with the allegations or why bother retweeting it.

          Sonmez was reinstated – we will see what happens to Weigel.

      2. But it is a matter of fact that there were rape allegations against Kobe Bryant. So, on the one hand we have somebody tweeting a sexist joke and on the other we have somebody pointing out correctly that an allegation of rape had been made against Kobe Bryant.

        I don’t think either tweet should have attracted a suspension.

  12. “So let’s get this straight: at the paper that cracked wide open the biggest presidential scandal in history….”.
    Until the attempted coup of 1/6 that is. I think the idea was to get Pence out of the Capitol: no Pence no certification. Was the Secret Service -or at least some elements in the Secret Service-, that insisted in getting him out, an accomplice/accomplices in the coup attempt? That is a question I’d like to see answered.
    I mean, the rioters wisely did not get into the Capitol with guns blazing, but were supposed to be rowdy enough to get Pence to flee (well, In the end he refused). A perfect plan. I hate to say it, but Pence, by refusing to get evacuated, saved the day -and American democracy.

  13. The joke is rapey, disgusting and misogynistic, and not within a country mile of funny: good riddance to him.

    1. Rapey? Can you explain that part? The rest I can understand (although my reaction was similar to Bari Weiss’s, so I guess I disagree about the not funny part) but there isn’t the slightest reference to rape in the joke.

    2. Bippolarism is real. Bisexual is real. Neither has anything to do with rape. So you are disgusted?
      Be disgusted all you want. Be my guest. Write new Sherlock Holmes mysteries where you discover misogyny. (Come to think of it, that would also be humorous…..and might get big sales).

    3. Rapey?

      Fuckin’ hell. First we take all the power out of words like sexism and misogyny, then abuse and harm, and now we’re going to do it with freaking rape? What’s next? Murder? “This joke is murdery.”

      1. Where I come from, the word ‘rapey’ is used to refer to creepily misogynistic men with whom women would not wish to be left alone.

        Ironically, I would say the tone of your post is ‘murdery’: thank you for the word.

        But I’m clearly in the minority here, I guess I just can’t take a joke.

        I think I hear da rules beckoning.

        Disappointed.

        1. “Ironically, I would say the tone of your post is ‘murdery’: thank you for the word.”

          Welp, guess that answers my question.

  14. There may be a little more to it than meets the eye. ThatUmbrellaGuy was named in questioning by Heard’s lawyer as some kind of leader of Depp’s social media mob, and an article suggesting he made a great deal of money from commenting on the trial is the kind of thing Heard’s team might plant to lessen his credibility if called in a future appeal.

  15. “You just have to figure out”… how exactly? The tone of the joke doesn’t sound like reasoned enquiry is an option.

    Women have been judged, and assigned to one of two categories, and you’re invited to join the dots as you see fit. Hey, if anything bad happens, it’s on you, bro.

    I wouldn’t want my daughter alone in the same room as someone like this. How could a newspaper send this man out to interview women after that post?

    1. Maybe you should leave that up to your daughter. For all you know she thinks he’s hunky and wants her dad to butt out. (Assuming she’s old enough to think for herself, of course.)

  16. > nastiness of social media and the groupthink

    I don’t know how anyone will ever be able to trust themselves drunk on the internet again. (I’m not saying that Weigel was drunk; I know that many of us sometimes post while drinking.) I think this could have chilling effects for everyone. I don’t maintain public and named social media accounts; I definitely don’t want every post I’ve ever made to be attributed to me for the rest of my life, even though I generally post in good faith.

    I’m expecting more and more prominent accounts to be written by ghost writers and fully sanitized. The fear used to be that every post would end up being bland, inoffensive, and vacuous; now the fear is that they will all be brimming over with artificial outrage.

  17. Partly it’s because you can pretty much guarantee the kind of worldview you’re going to get when you hire journalists pedigreed by Harvard and Brown and Yale.

    Isn’t this the real problem? Excellent sheep, indeed.

  18. I found the joke to be funny, after a few seconds of trying to get it, as I believe it is riffing on some recent published survey stats that show that even though gay and straight identifying folks remain stable in numbers, queer, non-binary, bi and all the other letters of the alphabet, has exploded in numbers among younger Americans. I believe Bill Maher was another comic who also poked fun at the “contagion” in identification. Regardless, jokes are allowed to be dumb anyway.

  19. Stockade Syndrome. The tendency for people who think themselves as good and decent to suddenly and viciously pelt a miscreant in a stockade with rotten vegetables and offal.

  20. And Sonmez is fired, according to CNN business, for continual criticisms, No mention of her errors.

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