Yes, we knew that mainstream news media were in the bag for Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.
Whenever real journalism did break out, "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," reports Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller. Some of those outpourings were coordinated.
Perhaps a hundred or more liberal "journalists" (sorry for the redundancy) plotted via an e-mail ListServ called "JournoList." Now, some of their employers -- like The Nation -- are straight-forward partisan opinion journals. We have a few of those on the Right. But others are supposedly mainstream and objective purveyors of fact. Time? The once-revered Baltimore Sun?
The Daily Caller's revelation that hundreds of liberal journalists and activists (but I repeat myself) had strategized on how best to get fellow community organizer (for that is what they amount to) Barack Obama has again devalued the journalism brand. For asking tough questions of candidate Obama about the Irreverend Wright ...
ABC's "George [Stephanopoulos]," fumed Richard Kim of The Nation, is "being a disgusting little rat snake." [Daily Caller: Documents show media plotting to kill stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright]
Some of the names on JournoList; Katha Pollitt, Joe Klein, Jeffrey Toobin, Eric Alterman, and Paul Krugman. No surprise that they would resort to unsubstantiated accusations of RACISM Most Foul to roil legitimate political discourse. The political equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theater.
The "JournoLists" strategized about ganging up on a (take your pick) conservative writer by crying "racist" so as to take the heat off Barack Obama, then reeling from his intimate association with "God Damn America" Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 campaign. Fred Barnes, one of the targets, writes about it in Wall St. Journal. [WSJ: The Vast Left-wing media conspiracy]
Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent proposed attacking Mr. Obama's critics as racists. He wrote:
"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them - Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares - and call them racists. . . . This makes them 'sputter' with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."
"One of them -- who cares -- and call them racists." I guess the JournoListers couldn't ... ahem ... transcend race. (Note the fawning cover of The Nation magazine reproduced above.) Sound familiar, Madison?
John Nichols says he's no JournoList
Naturally, I asked John Nichols if he had been a JournoList, since many of his co-conspirators at The Nation are Journo-Listed. John says not. He wrote this for Blaska's Blog:
I am afraid that I am a humble reporter and columnist, not a "Journolist."
I've been asked to join too many listserv initiatives to count, but I invariably defer. ...
The truth is that I have never been a fan of listserving. ... That said, I respect that some practitioners of the craft are inclined toward gossiping with one another. I am genuinely sorry that one of the ablest writers I've been reading in recent months Dave Weigel of the Post was forced out of a job he was doing well because he made some comments on a listserv that unsettled his editors.
So what's wrong with journalists spending their days ruminating with other journalists on a listserv? Isn't it just the equivalent of newsroom gossip for the digital age?
... when journalists get too involved with one another, they lose sight of what is fun and exciting and important about what we do. It's not so much a conspiracy as a groupthink that ultimately leads to a collective dumbing down of the discourse.
Consider the whole Reverent Wright controversy, which seems to have obsessed the "Journolists."
It was a great story from start to finish. How could anyone covering a campaign fail to be interested in what a presidential candidate's pastor -- especially a pastor with whom the candidate was, by all accounts, highly engaged -- had been saying, and was still saying, about controversial issues. And then, when the controversy started to get really hot, with Karl Rove trying to spin it and Obama finally delivering a reasonably remarkable speech, there was every reason to get more excited. The notion that reporters and columnists would be trying to manage such a story is not just comic but antithetical to the craft; unfortunately, that's what happens when supposedly "responsible" journalists spend their days talking to one another. ...
When journalists get too cautious and too absorbed with trying to figure out where a story is going -- or who it will help or hurt -- they forget that citizens tend to be quite good at sorting things out. ...
That was certainly the case with the Wright story. Despite the transparently-partisan efforts of Rove and Rush to turn it into a character test for Obama -- or, as some have suggested, simply to emphasize that the candidate attended a predominantly African-American church in Chicago -- all the wrangling actually helped Obama. He clarified who he was and what he was trying to do at a time when a lot of Americans were still getting to know him as a contender for the presidency. Had Obama been allowed to avoid the controversy in the spring, he would have been a much, much weaker candidate in the fall race.
For contrast, consider the general collapse of journalism during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. When the New York Times and "60 Minutes" joined the mindless "weapons of mass destruction" chorus, they let Bush and Cheney off the hook. Instead of giving the president and vice president a hard time and thus forcing shoot-first-aim-later administration to explain itself -- too many top journalists acted as little more than stenographers to power. ... I'm not saying that there was a "let's-help-Bush-get-his-war-on" listserv. But there was a groupthink mentality that led a lot of journalists to try and manage a story rather than to ask the tough questions and go against the dominant narrative.
... When too many journalists spend too much time trying to figure out what everyone else is doing, and worrying about how a story is playing or who it will hurt, power and the status quo are served or perhaps I should say listserved.
All the best, JN
A 'former journalist' reacts
Good for you, John Nichols, to a point.
Yes, "citizens tend to be quite good in sorting things out." As they are doing now.
In my daily newspaper career, I came to despair of the newsroom culture. I concluded that the newsroom of the typical newspaper was and is an unhealthy place -- self-referential, reinforcing, self-pitying, incestuous. Kind of like the teachers' lounge at the average unionized public school. Get thee to a nunnery, you'll get more real-world experience, I preached. Timothy Crouse's account of news coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign, "Boys on the Bus" captured that essence.
Now, John would not be our lovable Comrade if he could not -- entirely on his own -- share the JournoList biases. Note that the outing of Jeremiah Wright was, in Comrade John's telling, orchestrated by those nefarious practitioners of the dark political arts: "(Karl) Rove and Rush (Limbaugh)." What's more, R&R perpetrated their conspiracy for "transparently partisan purposes."
Yes, John, it's "partisan" when the other guys do it but not when we do it. One certainly could not accuse your Nation colleagues Richard Kim and Katha Pollitt of partisanship.
Also note Comrade John's none-too-subtle resort to wielding the worn-out brush of racism; the Wright affair was conjured "simply to emphasize that the candidate attended a predominantly African-American church in Chicago."
Who knew Barack Obama was black?
Or, maybe it's just that America, black and white, does not identify with "God damn America." Not quite "Morning in America."
The candidate did eventually throw Wright under the bus when the poor fellow kept digging his hole ever deeper. No doubt, due to "Rove and Rush's" clever machinations. For "Rove and Rush" explains everything to the Left -- no need to actually engage in informed argument.
As for Iraq ... not certain the price was worth the prize but who is the agent of freedom and enlightenment in the Middle East if not the United States? The new Iraq may yet be the catalyst.
Ol' bug eyes
Meanwhile, one of the JournoLists, producer of the NPR show "Left, Right and Center," apologized for her death fantasy of Rush Limbaugh. The Daily Caller relates:
Sarah Spitz, a producer for NPR-affiliated KCRW, has issued an apology for statements she made regarding talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. Early this morning, The Daily Caller published exclusive excerpts from the liberal list-serv Journolist, including Spitz's comment that she would "[l]augh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out" if she were to witness Rush Limbaugh suffering a heart attack.
NPR would be the Fox News of the Left except that it is tax-supported. Your tax dollars at work.
Which brings to mind one of John Nichols' pet schemes: taxpayer subsidies for journalists. [Washington Post: Yes, journalists deserve subsidies, too]
About that enlargement of Big Brother Government, I think we can safely say "Do not respond to this e-mail."