Journalists love transparency, unless they are the ones exposed. Now the tentacles of media bias are detailed in the release of messages among some 400 subscribers to the invitation-only JournoList, a private messaging service.
The chatter among the chattering class was of such things as how to get Reverend Wright, one of Barack Obama's longtime mentors, out of the news before he could damage the candidate's campaign. Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent and Wired, recommended labeling Karl Rove or other Obama critics as racist in order to divert attention from Wright. He was not concerned in the least with propagating a lie about racism but did ask how to avoid such an attack backfiring. He was just expressing his political leanings according to his bosses at Wired. More recently the same lie was revived for use against the Tea Party.
Another topic was what theme to take in covering the McCain - Palin campaign that would peel away votes. Initial suggestions were that she be attacked for lack of experience but others noted that could draw attention to Barack Obama's even thinner resume. A darker part of that discussion was how to use the child with Downs-Syndrome against Sarah Palin without gaining sympathy for her. Later Joe Klein posted a link to his Time magazine story, saying, "Here's my attempt to incorporate the accumulated wisdom of this august list-serve community."
The vitriol was not reserved for campaign opponents. Sarah Spitz, NPR producer of "Left, Right and Center," commented that she would "laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out," if Rush Limbaugh were to die. Limbaugh dismissed it as jealousy of his success.
Most startling is the disdain for the First Amendment. That Amendment forbids Congress to make any laws "abridging the freedom of the press," among other things. Yet these members of the press thought the government should shut down Fox News, an organization significantly more successful than those represented by JournoList members.
A Fox News alumnus, Tucker Carlson exposed the group in his online magazine, "Daily Caller." JournoList, founded by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, had over 400 members including Jeffrey Toobin, CNN and The New Yorker, Holly Yeager, Columbia Journalism Review, Chris Hayes and Katha Pollitt, The Nation, Mike Allen, Lisa Lerer and Ben Smith, Politico, Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic, Jesse Singal, Boston Globe, Noam Scheiber, New Republic, and David Brock, Media Matters. Reporters from other media such as Newsweek, The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and PBS participated. Dave Weigel, a reporter assigned to cover conservative blogs for the Washington Post was fired when his participation became public. He remains unique in that regard.
JournoList recently closed when exposed to the light of day. But it rises again in the form of Cabalist with 173 members, alumni of JournoList. Cabalist is being used to coordinate defense of JournoList. The line of attack is to pretend that it was composed only of columnists and bloggers, not reporters, just "liberals being liberal," to quote the current line. John Nolte, editor at "Big Journalism" says, "What is surprising about today's revelations is that these JournoListers have somehow deluded themselves into thinking they're doing good."
It is no surprise that some refer to the mainstream media as the "state media." Unlike propagandists in totalitarian regimes, the JournoList members voluntarily abandoned the trade's obligation to the truth and to the citizens. Instead they devoted themselves to statism and the progressive agenda. Americans are well-advised to read and listen to the media like Russians do with Pravda, deciphering the news beneath the ink.