When we read WaPo‘s Gene Weingarten, we are stunned at the diminishing level of effort that he puts in week after week. There’s no denying that Weingarten, one of the most legendary writers in this town, has the talent and a Pulitzer to boot. I just think he’s been phoning it in. Apparently, more people are noticing. Gene spends this week’s column responding to his critics. Weingarten whines that his job is so hard because people actually notice when he does a poor job. He says:
“But when a reader thinks I am incompetent, he or she tends to pseudonymously post it online, in blogs or the comments about my columns, and these things are archived forever and accessible via Google, through which you can learn, for example, that on Sept. 23, 2010, someone named Greg Nog opined that, professionally speaking, I ‘(perform intimate acts on) frog (sexual parts).’”
So, he gets hate mail. A lot of people have to deal with criticism in all fields of work. Gene does make a good point about anonymous commenters online, though. If you’re going to go through the effort to share your opinion online, you should defend those opinions. Which is why we’ve never been anonymous in our weekly examinations of Weingarten’s ramblings. Don’t worry, though. Gene finds the time to criticize us in how we’ve handled his writing. Well, we can only assume he’s referring to us here because he doesn’t have the balls to mention us by name. He says:
“The most dramatic and persistent critic of mine is the staff of a Washington media gossip Web site that used to like me until I criticized them online for being a petty, brutish, mean-spirited trafficker in mindless character assassination and baseless innuendo. For literally months afterward, they attacked every column of mine seriatim, week after week, as the work product of a senile old fool; nothing I did was spared the most uncharitable interpretation.”
It won’t come as a shock when I tell you that Gene is just wrong. It’s true that Gene did criticize us because of this piece we published about a WaPo intern in which we dared to point out goofy details about an intern at his paper. He said we were “piling on a kid.” Keep in mind, this is a “kid” who was 18 years old at the time. We also pointed out that WaPo mocked their own interns on their Facebook page by calling for readers to send in embarrassing stories about interns, which is something of a media pastime here in Washington. You see, we didn’t start analyzing Gene’s work because he clocked us. We started because he is a hypocritical dinosaur who is doing lazy writing. It’s nothing personal.
Whinegarten continues on about the anonymous blog he won’t name:
“Each blog post was accompanied by the same photo of me. Now, for some reason, it is pretty hard to find a photo in which I look handsome, but they managed to locate the least flattering picture available: It was taken outdoors, in the rain, after I’d been walking for hours in pain in 90 degree heat shortly after undergoing botched double knee replacement surgery. I resemble some horrible bloated thing, like a corpse left out in the sun with putrid gas hissing out of its orifices.”
Once again, Gene is brushing up on his fiction writing. That is simply not true. We rotate our pictures of Gene every week. There are several that we use and we even include his official headshot from WaPo as one in the rotation. So, I’m not sure which picture he is referring to when he calls himself a “horrible bloated thing, like a corpse left out in the sun with putrid gas hissing out of its orifices”, but he said it, not me.
Gene says that he has developed a thick skin through all of his criticisms. Which is why it’s weird that he’s devoted a whole column to addressing the critics. Maybe his skin isn’t quite as thick as we thought. Then again, just running several things other people have written about you is a GREAT way to fill a column and not do a whole lot of work.