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News of the existence of “JournoList,” a 400-member listserv e-mail chain of liberal Washington D.C. journalists, began to emerge last year. It hit a peak several weeks ago when Dave Weigel, who was covering conservative politics for the Washington Post, was fired. Weigel’s expletive-laced frothings, aimed at some of his sources and subjects, were released to Tucker Carlson’s political website, the Daily Caller.
The list had always been highly discussed in conservative circles, but its founder, Ezra Klein, did his best to dismiss speculation that it was anything but innocuous. Weigel’s e-mails revealed otherwise. Andrew Breitbart later offered $100,000 for a member to come forward with the entire JournoList archive.
Through a source, Carlson came through with the archive last week. Weigel and his list-mates concluded that their now-revealed rants should be held private, even if shared with the inboxes of 400 other people.
Imagine, in one instance, if a state official were disclosing stories about state and security secrets at a party of 400 people. Most of those details would be online before said state official was home for the evening. But using Klein’s logic, and that of his like-minded cadre, all such matters should be off the record due to privacy. That’s an important fact to keep in mind, because most Washington D.C. journalists, at least of the so-called mainstream, liberal, and objective varieties, had little qualms with the New York Times when it made decision after decision to reveal state secrets involving American intelligence, or when phone calls between John Boehner and Newt Gingrich were surreptitiously recorded and transcribed by a media outlet. Washington journalists would have you believe their own rants to an audience of several hundred are of more importance than national security matters or personal phone calls.
That’s a small kernel of the hypocrisy revealed by Carlson and the Daily Caller. For years, conservative complaints of teamwork among supposedly objective journalists and liberal politicos was said to be muckraking; that these journalists weren’t, in fact, treating politics as a team sport, but were operating objectively. The list’s existence in itself shows that isn’t the case. Several mainstream outlets are well represented among the list members, such as TIME magazine, Politico, the Baltimore Sun, and the Washington Post, as well as those from opinion outlets such as The New Republic, Salon, and The Nation. Conspicuous by absence are members of conservative outlets.
Inclusion of conservative members would have been detrimental to the list’s purpose. Members of JournoList corroborated in shaping the narrative on political stories in a manner benefiting the progressive movement. This ranged from outrage over the questioning of Barack Obama by ABC News during a presidential debate, to a discussion on how to handle Sarah Palin’s nomination.
The outrage over the ABC News debate prompted a letter to the network, signed by 45 members of the list, who were upset over the questioning of then-candidate Obama about his connection and relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who had repeatedly made racial and other incendiary remarks from the pulpit.
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