There’s nothing wrong with criticizing Andrew Breitbart or rendering a negative judgement on his work and his legacy, as David Frum did yesterday. But Matt Yglesias’ celebration is a wholly different animal.
And I can’t quite understand the non-reaction to it. There used to be a price–professional and social–to be paid when high-profile journalists who are part of big media conglomerates acted this way. A commenter at Daily Kos or Free Republic could behave badly with impunity, but the actual professionals couldn’t because they were afraid they’d get their knuckles rapped by the suits and/or their more respectable friends would disapprove, and maybe even be forced to repudiate them.
It still happens, you know. Compare Yglesias’ tweet, in terms of maliciousness, stupidity, and actual hurtful impact on real people, with CNN anchor Roland Martin’s Super Bowl tweet about a David Beckham ad. You tell me which you think is a worse ethical infraction. CNN suspended Martin almost immediately. But Slate editor David Plotz rushed out to defend Yglesias. Slate isn’t some independent magazine, like Reason, they’re part of the Washington Post Company, a corporation with a $3 billion market capitalization. Surely there’s a grownup somewhere in the company who thinks that employees should be made to uphold some minimum standard of conduct, or else they risk embarrassing the business. They sure do at other companies.