The Spectacle Blog

Journolist: A Conspiracy, or Just a Clown Show?

By on 7.21.10 | 5:28PM

On the main page today, John Guardiano is justifiably appalled by what he's seen from Journolist, the now-defunct off-the-record listserv for liberal journalists. Particularly disturbing is Spencer Ackerman saying it's a good idea to hurl bad-faith accusations of racism. This tells us what was already obvious: Spencer Ackerman shouldn't be taken seriously. This is hardly a secret: We're talking about a guy who was fired from The New Republic after starting a blog called "Too Hot for TNR" to denounce his employer. He then took a flamethrower to all his bridges by airing gripes about all his coworkers. The guy is insane -- and, occassionally, not intellectually honest. (He's also an energetic reporter who does good work covering national security, but you have to learn to ignore his utterly unserious opinions whenever reading his work.)

Likewise, Chris Hayes's suggestion that no one should cover the Jeremiah Wright controversy is no surprise. Chris Hayes is a dyed-in-the-wool far-left ideologue. I imagine that Hayes disagrees very little with much of what Jeremiah Wright says about how awful America is. Indeed, while I wasn't there, I did hear stories that other reporters were bemused to see Hayes applauding Wright's National Press Club speech, in which Wright doubled down on all his views.

Lots of things that we've seen from Journolist reflect poorly on the people who wrote them. But in almost every case, we already knew that these people were buffoons. Leaks from Journolist are useful primarily in reminding us how utterly ridiculous these people are.

What they don't tell us, though, is that Journolist was a media conspiracy to shape coverage based on what the craziest members of the list suggested, which is how the Daily Caller is framing its stories. Everyone on Journolist insists that this isn't true, and that Jonathan Strong's Caller stories are taking snippets of conversations and making them look much, much worse than they are. The context provided by, for example, Jon Chait's response to the Caller suggests that this is probably true. Since I have no reason to believe that anyone at the Daily Caller would deliberately mislead readers, I suspect that whoever is leaking material from Journolist is doing so selectively. Thus, it would serve readers well if the Daily Caller would, as Daniel Foster suggests over at National Review, release all of the source material they have, as soon as possible.

A member of Journolist has leaked a thread to me, in fact -- albeit with the authors' names stripped out -- under the condition that I promise to run it in its entirety. When I do so tomorrow, you will see, again, how utterly inane the discussions on Journolist often were.

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