Steve Ralls

Wonkette, Over and Out

Filed By Steve Ralls | January 20, 2008 7:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Ana Marie Cox, Darren Manzella, Gawker, Megan Carpentier

For the Washington politico scene, the online blog Wonkette can sometimes make even the most mundane and tedious days a little more fun. The blog, which began as the brainchild of Ana Marie Cox, shows the side of politics that those inside the beltway witness on a daily basis: the absurd, the illogical and the downright stupid. Part of the Gawker media empire, the site came to be regarded as the insider's Onion - a daily, running account of everything laughable about the powers that be. Except, unlike The Onion, its tales were mostly true.

Then, almost as quickly as it rose to stardom, Wonkette became as dull as a 1999 Al Gore debate performance. It lurched along, occassionally hitting a humorous note, as in its coverage of Mark Foley and Larry Craig. But overall, it sucked. After Cox's departure, the site struggled to find good, truly funny, writers. It hit a bad patch, big time . . . a la Saturday Night Live a few years ago.

Then came Megan Carpentier, and Wonkette began to come back to life.

Megan, who began blogging for the site as the 'Anonymous Lobbyist,' took questions from readers about what it was like to be in D.C.'s corridors of power (as she was), lobbying the government to take sides in public policy debates. Her sizzling take on how things get done in the world's most powerful city was like a breath of warm arctic air, bringing back Wonkette like a post-Inconvenient Truth Gore.

Then, Carpentier was outed. And Wonkette editor Ken Layne had the good sense to put her on staff. She took off like a rocket, beginning a Bronte-esque running commentary on French president Nicholas Sarkozy and giving readers a fresh - and funny - perspective on the '08 race for the White House.

Wonkette was back. Commenters showed their love with countless outpourings of "funny-for-Washington" comments on her entries. People - at least the people I know - started reading again. Finally, there was an heir to Cox's throne, and Carpentier was at the top of her game.

Yes, and Megan brought a little bit of a gay perspective to Wonkette, too. After her "bad break-up" with the French president, she set her eyes on the gays . . . specifically Army Sergeant Darren Manzella. Megan first blogged about Darren after his appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, and so I invited her to join him in-person at an SLDN reception in his honor. The result? Fabulously funny. Darren and his mom loved meeting the blogger who called the Sergeant an "insane hottie." And Megan loved writing about Darren and the LGBT community.

Unlike most political bloggers in Washington, Megan (who, by then, had really earned the right to be called the Wonkette) could dish out some love for the gays, and give them a gentle jabbing and some laughs at their own expense.

On Friday, Megan skewered right-wing pundit Elaine Donnelly for her attempts to get Sergeant Manzella fired, writing that "We'd suggest that her obsession with [a photo of Manzella and his friends at the beach] has a lot less to do with the (sadly) fully clad Manzella and a lot more to do with her getting (hot and) bothered by the very, very pretty women he's got his arms around. Jealous much, Elaine?"

The right-wing was no longer immune to the pointed perspectives of Wonkette's pen.

Then, just a few hours later, (and not connected to her post about Donnelly, as far as I know) Megan was fired. And the air went out Wonkette's sails faster than the Ron Paul blimp.

The site was innundated with outraged readers (558 and counting), who rightfully let editor Layne have it. They threatened to organize (Edwards supporters, no doubt), pontificate (Obama voters) and some even seemed on the verge of tears (the Hillary crew). But they were all unanimous in their belief that something very, very bad had happened to our Wonkette. And it had.

Now, the mainstream blogosphere (if there is such a thing) has lost an immensely talented, enormously funny and (yes, I'll dare say it) insanely hot, LGBT-inclusive voice. And because of Ken Layne's idiotic decision, Wonkette is over and out.

So what can we do? If you're a registered commenter at the site, surf over and respond to Megan's good-bye message with a note of support for her (just like Ron Paul's people would do).

Maybe - just maybe - we can bring Wonkette back again. Otherwise, things could get nasty ... or all of us in D.C. could be very, very bored.

UPDATE: Wonkette commenter Homofascist has a blog looking at the Carpentier story in more detail, and organizing those who support Megan. Click here for more.

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One thing I never found - why was she fired?

Steve Ralls Steve Ralls | January 21, 2008 2:59 PM


It doesn't look like her Donnelly/Manzella coverage was the reason (or sole reason) she was fired. I've heard from people familiar with the incident that Layne didn't think Megan's sense of humour fit with the site. Go figure, since her posts (especially on Manzella) had huge page hits and a ton of comments.

It seems, by all accounts, she was bringing traffic TO the site, and certainly not driving it away.

- Steve .

Thanks for the link, Steve. Last time I'd checked the full post wasn't up yet. :)

She's too good to go jobless for long, I think!