It should come as no surprise that self-identifying liberals have liberal thoughts and friends, so no foul there, as Carlson has said. And, indeed, some of the comments are, on their face, condemnable, not to mention banal. But some also have been presented out of context and, besides, were offered as part of an ongoing argument among colleagues who believed they were acting in good faith that theirs was a private conversation.
Were they naive to think so? In this world, yes. Was Carlson right to “out” the private comments of people who, for the most part, have no significant power? That, to me, is the more compelling issue.
No significant power?
They conspired amongst themselves to get the Wright story off of the air:
Others went further. According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. 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.”
“Richard Kim got this right above: ‘a horrible glimpse of general election press strategy.’ He’s dead on,” Tomasky continued. “We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”
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.
Then they conspired to find ways to defeat McCain/Palin via their professions:
In the hours after Sen. John McCain announced his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the last presidential race, members of an online forum called Journolist struggled to make sense of the pick. Many of them were liberal reporters, and in some cases their comments reflected a journalist’s instinct to figure out the meaning of a story.
But in many other exchanges, the Journolisters clearly had another, more partisan goal in mind: to formulate the most effective talking points in order to defeat Palin and McCain and help elect Barack Obama president. The tone was more campaign headquarters than newsroom.
Chris Hayes of the Nation wrote in with words of encouragement, and to ask for more talking points. “Keep the ideas coming! Have to go on TV to talk about this in a few min and need all the help I can get,” Hayes wrote.
Suzanne Nossel, chief of operations for Human Rights Watch, added a novel take: “I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualifications or views.”
Mother Jones’s Stein loved the idea. “That’s excellent! If enough people – people on this list? – write that the pick is sexist, you’ll have the networks debating it for days. And that negates the SINGLE thing Palin brings to the ticket,” he wrote.
And TIME’s Joe Klein used the idea’s from the Journalist to write an article written in the first person, as if he came up with the idea’s himself:
Time’s Joe Klein then linked to his own piece, parts of which he acknowledged came from strategy sessions on Journolist. “Here’s my attempt to incorporate the accumulated wisdom of this august list-serve community,” he wrote. And indeed Klein’s article contained arguments developed by his fellow Journolisters. Klein praised Palin personally, calling her “fresh” and “delightful,” but questioned her “militant” ideology. He noted Palin had endorsed parts of Obama’s energy proposal.
While Klein is very clearly an opinion journalist at Time, he represented those opinions as his own — and one has to wonder how many other talking points from JournoList Klein passed off as his own over the years at Time.
These discussions centered on what message would harm the GOP the most. They asked for ideas for a GOP attack prior to going on TV. This Journalist helped them shape their anti-Republican message…
And Kathleen Parker wants to dismiss it as some kind of list of friends?
400 strangers getting together in a email list is not a bunch of friends just “shooting the s@#t,” and it’s certainly not a private discussion when they were colluding amongst each other to find ways to get a certain political party elected.
Let’s see if I can succinctly break down her complaint.
Liberals can use a mass email list to frame the debate on politics in America. Kathleen Parker can use her position at the WaPo to frame the JournoList debate in a manner to marginalize the focus of the Right on line. But when said Right on line openly frames the debate in a manner she doesn’t care for, it’s time to consider drawing a line? That about it?
Yup, that pretty much sounds like her complaint.
What utter idiocy.