Olivia Nuzzi Is Not Just the “Former Weiner Intern”

David Roberts writes to apologize for a tweet he wrote; I missed it, but I assume the reaction to said tweet was vicious. Like the rest of the Internet he read Hunter Walker’s interview with Anthony Weiner’s spokesman Barbara Morgan, and unlike the rest of the Internet he felt a twinge of sympathy in her battle against a “slutbag” intern.

Roberts is sorry now, and “sorry, in particular, to Olivia Nuzzi, who I don’t know from Adam.” Let me pile on: It’s not very hard to find out who Olivia Nuzzi is. Disclosure: Nearly a year ago, Nuzzi got in touch with me because she wanted advice in pursuing a journalism career. Why she thought I was equipped to give it I have no idea, but we eventually met and chatted, and I started to read her stuff. She’s not some “climbing” intern. She’s an aspiring reporter, albeit one who’s been at it for a while. Two years ago she was filing items for Monmouth Musings, an opinionated site that let her take whacks at New Jersey politicians. She moved on to Monmouth’s triCityNews, and she wrote long columns on her Tumblr page. When I met her, she was working on a profile of New Jersey’s doomed progressive Senate candidate Rep. Rush Holt—that piece ran today.

Nuzzi is staying mum on her current situation, apart from the occasional tweet, but it’s not hard to see why she joined the Weiner campaign. She was taking a page from reporters like Slate’s Sasha Issenberg, learning how a campaign works by working a campaign. The Weiner campaign provided a unique opportunity, a buzzy and understaffed campaign that started late and had to flood the city to catch up.

Not to pick on Roberts—he apologized!—but imagine how this story would have played out had Nuzzi been a college-age male journalist-turned-campaign worker. Would Barbara Morgan have called that intern a “slutbag” and a “twat”? Would the Daily News have splashed that intern’s face on the front page, next to Weiner’s, hint, hint? Would anyone have made that Lewinsky-sourced mental leap—“oh, female interns, ha, ha”—and assumed Nuzzi was just another climber? Of course not.