Media

Leaks Show JournoList Members Plotting to Push Back Against Rev. Wright Stories, Accuse Random Republicans of Being Racist

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Don't hurt me, Attackerman!

Looks like Delaware Dave Weigel won't be the only member of the recently shuttered JournoList to be made professionally uncomfortable by the selective publication of inflammatory statements made to the ostensibly private listserv of several hundred D.C.-centered liberal journalists and commentators. Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller has unearthed some of JournoList's chatter during the high points of the controversy over Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Excerpt:

Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama's relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama's conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, "Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists."

Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: "Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn't about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people." […]

The emphasis is on empiricism, not ideology

Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun as well as a political science professor, upped the ante from there. In a post with the subject header, "why don't we use the power of this list to do something about the debate?" Schaller proposed coordinating a "smart statement expressing disgust" at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.

"It would create quite a stir, I bet, and be a warning against future behavior of the sort," Schaller wrote.

Tomasky approved. "YES. A thousand times yes," he exclaimed.

The members began collaborating on their open letter. Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones rejected an early draft, saying, "I'd say too short. In my opinion, it doesn't go far enough in highlighting the inanity of some of [Gibson's] and [Stephanopoulos's] questions. And it doesn't point out their factual inaccuracies….Our friends at Media Matters probably have tons of experience with this sort of thing, if we want their input."

Jared Bernstein, who would go on to be Vice President Joe Biden's top economist when Obama took office, helped, too.

Ackerman's characteristically juvenile bravado did draw JournoList rebukes from Mark Schmitt and Kevin Drum, the Daily Caller reported. Read the whole thing here; Reason on JournoList here.

As this whole episode describes a world utterly alien to me–listservs, major-party affiliation, political team identity, desire to help out politicians–I am experiencing this mostly as a consumer of entertainment news (with the caveat that I have met several of the people involved). There is a certain poetry, however, to seeing Joe Conason's name associated with it all.