The Spectacle Blog

Journolist Equals Journalistic Corruption

By on 7.23.10 | 12:57AM

Don't make excuses for the Journolisters. They subverted journalism and the pursuit of truth for politics and the pursuit of power.

John Tabin has entered the fray over Journolist, the now-defunct secret listserve of several hundred liberal journalists, activists and academics. Tabin agrees that much of what the Daily Caller has reported about this cabal is extremely troubling and reprehensible. To wit:

• the Journolisters' attempt, during the 2008 presidential campaign to kill and bury stories about Obama's relationship with "Reverend" Jeremiah Wright;

• their push to deliberately smear innocent conservative journalists and politicos as "racists" and "bigots";

• their twisted passion to see Rush Limbaugh killed off and dead;

• their intolerant desire to have the government censor and shut down Fox News; and

• their baldly partisan effort to coordinate liberal talking points that would discredit Sarah Palin and John McCain, while helping to elect Barack Obama president.

Now, Tabin agrees that this is all very bad and certainly wrong for journalists who purport to be independent and fair-minded. However, he insists, "these people were buffoons." They were "utterly ridiculous" and thus should not be taken seriously.

I might agree with Tabin if the Journolisters were solitary bloggers venting in the backwoods in lonely isolation. But in point of fact, they were not. The Journolisters are professionally employed journalists who work at some of America's most prestigious and influential newsrooms: the Washington Post, New York Times, National Public Radio, New Republic, Time, Newsweek, et al. Thus, they wield tremendous cultural clout and influence.

Sure, the execution of their efforts may have been "comical," as Tabin suggests; however, their intent clearly was not. It was underhanded, deceptive and antithetical to everything a journalist is supposed to be and to represent.

The Journolisters' intent was underhanded because their listserve and its contents were kept secret and hidden from public view. Yet, the Journolisters engaged the public dialogue, and the American people, under the guise of being nonpartisan truth seekers.

But thanks to the Daily Caller's lone and courageous reporting -- for which Jonathan Strong ought to get (but of course never will get) a Pulitzer Prize -- we now know that this was a complete lie. The Journolisters were essentially political activists and political tools.

Indeed, they viewed themselves as members of an enlightened and progressive Democratic Party team. And they went to Journolist to find political support and intellectual sustenance.

Of course, the problem is not that the Journolisters had decided political opinions. Most journalists do, after all. I certainly do (although unlike the Journolisters, I lean to the right, not the far left). The problem is that these so-called journalists allowed their professional judgment and actions to be co-opted by partisan zeal and partisan hackery. And they did this in secret, unbeknownst, it seems, to their employers and the public.

I'm sorry, but I don't find this "comical." I find it disturbing -- and also sadly telling about the state of the legacy media in America.

Tabin protests that not everyone on Journolist behaved in such an appalling fashion, only its "craziest members" like Spencer Ackerman. This may be true; however, it's utterly irrelevant. Every political group or movement, after all, is led by a vanguard of activists who set its tone and agenda.

The fact is that Journolist was a secret left-wing cabal which deliberately excluded from its ranks anyone with known conservative views. It was an attempt, as even lefty blogger Andrew Sullivan has observed, to socialize liberal journalistic group think and to develop a common journalistic orthodoxy that would serve Barack Obama and the liberal agenda.

Did the Journolisters argue and debate amongst themselves? Of course they did. They sometimes disagreed over political tactics and how best to use their journalistic platforms to advance the goals and objectives of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. They also disagreed about how best to demonize and discredit their (conservative) political opponents. But so what? What does this prove?

Well, Journolist coconspirator Jonathan Chait, for one, thinks this proves their innocence! But in fact, all it proves is that when it comes to propagandizing the public, liberal "journalists" have differing approaches or strategies. Some, like Wired magazine's Spencer Ackerman, advocate a radical, in-your-face approach, while others, such as the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, advocate a softer and more subtle approach.

But what Ackerman, Klein and most other Journolisters all have in common is a desire to subvert journalism and the pursuit of truth for politics and the pursuit of power. This makes them corrupt; and this makes the legacy media in which they work equally corrupt.

And, contra Tabin, all of the mundane and inane chatter on Journolist does not negate this corruption. To the contrary: it shows how commonplace and widely accepted such corruption has become in America's elite newsrooms.

But thanks to the Internet, personal computers and smart phones, left-wing control of the media is fast coming to an end. The old order is collapsing; it is about to be overthrown; and a virtual media with new and more promising possibilities is fast emerging. Indeed, Journolist is the last gasp of a dying media empire. Good riddance.

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