Last spring, when I was considering coming to work for The Post, I sat down with one of the paper’s senior editors for an important conversation. “Before I can accept your offer,” I said, “I need to lay out every truly egregious thing I’ve ever written. I want to make sure that you’re not surprised when the mob starts demanding you fire me.”
The various writings I laid out were old, some of them stretching back to my early blogging days in 2002. All of them have been richly regretted, and apologized for, in the intervening years. But I knew that if I went to work for The Post, they would once again be thrown at me, and I wanted to make sure my prospective employer knew what it was getting into.
These sorts of conversations are becoming necessary as social media develops into a sort of freelance surveillance state. Ostensibly, the mob is shocked to find that some public figure has said something regrettable. In truth, their ire long preceded the discovery of the offense, and they are overjoyed to have found a weapon that might destroy their hated enemy.