How Wonkette Helped Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner Flunk Out Of College Or Something Probably
I fell in love with Wonkette while I was interning at Teen Vogue, one of my 700 college internships and I can remember the post that did it for me. I just spent the last 10 minutes (sixty lifetimes, in blogger years) searching for this article that made me laugh so hard I had to leave my desk:“GENIUS COMMENTER AT MCCAIN STORE NOW.” It’s still funny, even though John McCain died many years ago.
A few weeks later, in summer 2008, I wrote Ken an earnest and overwritten e-mailed (proofread no fewer than 800 times by my boyfriend at the time) and asked if he was hiring summer interns. He said, as he remembered in his own anniversary essay, that Team Wonkette was going to the 2008 conventions and I could write the daily morning post while everyone was traveling. You’ll never guess what happened next: I wrote the daily morning post while everyone was traveling.
A book deal and pregnancy for Sara and Ken, irrespectively, allowed my internship to morph into an editorship during which I would laugh and laugh about Richard Cohen with Jim Newell in our “Campfire chat” during my classes that would allow laptops. I was in college throughout my tenure at Wonkette and basically ended up selecting classes on the basis of laptop-friendliness. This is, I guess, why I wrote my senior thesis about modern poetry? Actually, I have no idea why I wrote my senior thesis about modern poetry.
Editing Wonkette in college was both really fun and really not fun. I received a (modest) salary at a time when I had no living expenses (example of fun). I once made out with a guy (hi, Will!) who asked whether he could call me “Intern Juli” (example of not-fun at the time but great fun in retrospect). I also had to wake up early on Friday, because America still held “politics class” on Friday mornings, even if Columbia University did not. Haha, wait, I just figured out why I wrote my senior thesis on modern poetry.
I loved that Wonkette rewarded loyalty: the more you read, the more in-jokes you understood, and the funnier it was. We editors created elaborate narratives around marginal figures like Michael Steele, Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris, Meghan McCain, etc. These people in no way “mattered” in the sense of actual policy or politics, but I loved writing about them and was given the freedom and trust to do so. (Thank you Ken, for being “down with” child labor, as us child laborers say.) One of the funniest things I have ever read in my entire life remains this post by the brilliant Jim Newell.
As Pareene already mentioned, “Wonkette has always been best when written by people far, far away from Washington.” I was somewhat far away from Washington, in New York City. Everyone in New York thought it was very strange that I had never met my boss (I didn’t meet Ken until maybe 2011?); everyone reading Wonkette thought it was very strange that I did not live in D.C. I always thought I was lucky because I got to talk to Ken and Jim and Sara from anywhere; I always thought I was very unlucky because I could read “The Corner” or whatever from anywhere on Earth. We can all read “The Corner” from anywhere on Earth. It was true then, it is true now, and it is a great tragedy.
Juli Weiner works here now.