Slate‘s Dave Weigel committed the cardinal sin of modern politics. He asked Twitter to calm down.
During President Obama‘s taped appearance on the Daily Show Thursday, two White House pool reports were dispatched with quotes from his interview with Jon Stewart. Here’s a quote from the first report:
On Benghazi, Potus said: “Every piece of information that we get, as we got it we laid it out to the American people. The picture eventually gets fully filled in.” Potus also said: “Here’s what I’ll say. When four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal. We’re going to fix it. All of it.”
With Obama describing the death of four Americans as “not optimal,” Twitter lit up like Marion Barry on a Friday morning. Some conservatives saw the report and claimed Obama was minimizing the deaths.
Then the calm and cool Weigel threw himself into the fray at his own peril. “The political Twitterverse is now debating what was said in a TV interview it has not seen, based on pool report only a few have seen,” he tweeted.
A second report was sent out, this time detailing the exchange between Stewart and Obama. This report included Stewart’s question and revealed it was actually him who initially used the word “optimal,” though in a different context. Stewart had asked if the White House’s response to the attack on a U.S. embassy was “optimal.”
Weigel followed up, “What we need: More campaigns/media hyperventilating about out-of-context shit that collapses under scrutiny.”
And with that, he became the target. Conservative blogger “Sooper Mexican” wrote up a post on Weigel’s dismissive tweets. He compared them to jokes Weigel made on Twitter about GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney‘s “binders full of women” remark in the debate this week. “Infamous Journolister Dave Weigel Thinks ‘Not Optimal’ Controversy is Stupid, Loves ‘Binders’ Snark!” blared the headline, suggesting Weigel is biased against Romney.
The Daily Caller‘s Jim Treacher tweeted out a link to the post and retweeted others who were mocking Weigel. Asked in an email if Romney’s “binders” remark compares to Obama’s “optimal” comment, Treacher said “Weigel’s job is to tell you what isn’t news.”
Breitbart‘s John Nolte jumped in yesterday, too. “Hey everyone, Dave Weigel doesn’t want us making issue out of Obama MINIMIZING deaths of four Americans. So stop it now!”
Weigel told FishbowlDC…that he didn’t see the point his critics were making comparing his past “binders” jokes to his dismissal of Obama’s comments. He said the “binders” quote was an Internet meme bandied about and, in context, actually reflected well on Romney.
“The ‘optimal’ thing was just weird,” he said. “The Internet’s freak-out — which spread to Fox News — was over a line in a pool report that very few of the freak-out-ers actually saw. When the interview aired, the context only made Obama look callous if you were inclined to hate Obama already.”
Weigel blew off claims that he’s biased against Romney. “They were different quotes about different things in different contexts,” he said. “I’m horribly biased and unfair about such things.”
We requested comment from Nolte.