Gawker Heroes: Erik WempleS

It’s been a tumultuous moment for the opinion section at The Washington Post. Editor Fred Hiatt continues to publish columns by Richard Cohen, who is racist; Jennifer Rubin, who is a pathological liar; and George Will, who smartly predicted that Mitt Romney would win 321 electoral votes (Romney won 206). Hiatt will also commission nonsensical essays criticizing Vietnam veteran and Secretary of State John Kerry for not really “getting” the military. The section’s rot is so extensive that nothing less than burning it all down will restore a semblance of intelligence to the capital’s most prominent opinion page.

But in the midst of that rot stands Gawker Hero Erik Wemple, the former editor of Washington City Paper and TBD, who in his role as the Post’s roving media critic/reporter/blogger has more or less sustained the opinion section’s respectability, all by himself.

Like a deeply embedded anthropologist, Wemple scours Washington media (and, not infrequently, their New York counterparts) for hypocrisy, excess, and corruption. He’s the anti-Mike Allen, frequently piercing the Politico madman’s self-inflating bubble of hype at the moment it threatens to blot out the sun. He even chased Allen out of D.C.’s Newseum, after asking him about the blatant conflict of interests present in Allen’s corporate-interest-friendly POLITICO PLAYBOOK newsletter.

Yeah, yeah: It’s the media, we’re all obsessed with the media, nobody cares about the media. Etc, etc. But at a paper where the opinion editor openly admits that he forgot to edit Richard Cohen, in a city that reflexively looks the other way, Wemple dares to give a shit—a heroic shit—about his industry’s worst indulgences.


More Gawker heroes: Ken Layne on Pope Francis, Hamilton Nolan on Subway Brie Man, Cord Jefferson on Vanessa Van Dyke, Rich Juzwiak on Kanye West, Camille Dodero on Antoinette Tuff, J.K. Trotter on Erik Wemple, Adam Weinstein on Alice Munro, Taylor Berman on Anthony Graves, Beejoli Shah on Shia LeBeouf, Caity Weaver on Beyoncé Selfie Perfect Teen, Sam Biddle on Josh Tetrick, Lacey Donohue on Wendy Davis, Tom Scocca on Ai Weiwei, Max Read on @Dril, and John Cook on Rob Ford.

[Photo credit: CNN]