It's shocking that progressive journalists have progressive ideas and share them with other progressive journalists.
Wait, no, it's not? Then I suppose I am misreading the series of stories in the conservative Daily Caller that have revealed the exchanges of the now-defunct Journolist, a supposedly off-the-record listserv for nearly 500 journalists and policy wonks, most of whom were progressive. (My deep dark confession: I was a member, mainly a lurker; I haven't posted anything in years. And, truth be told, when I did post it usually was to promote a column or article I had written, seeking links.) The Daily Caller and other conservatives have depicted the Journolist gang as practically a secret society coordinating the so-called liberal line in the media. But an ex-Daily Caller reporter was part of the group—which has gone unreported on by the Caller.
Sarah Palin today called Journolist participants "sick puppies" and has pointed to the Daily Caller's articles as proof that anti-free-speech libs control the mainstream media and have subverted it for their own nefarious purposes. But that's a foolish analysis, for equating the Journolist group—predominantly self-identified liberals writing or working for self-identified liberal outfits—with the MSM is absurd. The listserv was mainly a fun place for folks to kibbitz, trade ideas, and argue over published pieces. Think of it as a bar for journalists—without the booze, but with the occassional brawl. Sure, some participants wrote intemperate comments, just as they would mouth off in a tavern with friends, colleagues, or antagonists. Journalists—liberal and conservatives—do hold strong opinions and often are not shy about sharing. While I do not begrudge the Daily Caller the fun copy it has obtained by gaining access to Journolist archives—I would certainly write stories about a similar conservative listserv if I could—this is not an instance when a conspiracy has been exposed (especially since Politico and others have already written about the existence of Journolist).
The latest Journolist piece hit close to home, for it features a headline based on a Journolist comment made by Nick Baumann, a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington, DC, bureau. (See Nick's take on the Journolist flap here.) The article zeroes in on the hours following John McCain's announcement that Sarah Palin would be his running mate. Journolist was exploding with comments from members wondering what was behind this odd selection and what was the best way to write about it—and to attack it. (Hey, they're liberals.) In years past, this sort of conversation would have happened in a restaurant or hotel lobby—presumably the bar next to the lobby—where reporters would gather. In this instance, it occurred electronically. I believe that at the time I was in a rented house in St. Paul—the site of the GOP convention—with Baumann and Jonathan Stein, another Mother Jones reporter (now a grad student in California). Like good journalists, we each immediately began to contact people (in Alaska and elsewhere) who could explain this choice or who could tell us anything interesting about Palin. While doing this, Nick and Jonathan participated in the ongoing Journolist conversation about Palin.