First up is Ezra Klein who started Journolist, You shall know them by their work
Yesterday’s dispatch attempted to detail a conspiracy to bury the Reverend Wright story, or maybe respond to it by calling conservatives racist, or maybe just stick to the policy questions. It was hard to say, because rather than an actual media conspiracy, the Daily Caller had a handful of avowedly liberal columnists arguing with one another about Jeremiah Wright. I didn’t participate in that thread, and the next day, wrote this post, which argued that Wright’s comments would be a big deal even if he’d been white and the candidate had been John Kerry. This did not make lefties happy. Some conspiracy.
The other piece of evidence in yesterday’s story was a public letter signed by 41 members of Journolist protesting ABC News’s conduct during one of the presidential primary debate. You may remember this one. Greg Mitchell, of Editor and Publisher (and not a member of Journolist), called it a “shameful night for US media.” On Journolist, Tom Schaller, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland, wrote an angry letter and asked people if they’d like to sign it. Then the letter was posted in public. You can read it here. Some conspiracy.
There’s a piece of that story, incidentally, that the Daily Caller — and their Journolist beat reporter, Jonathan Strong — knew but did not report. After the letter came out, I thought a lot about whether it was appropriate for a listserv including journalists to be used in that way. I decided it wasn’t. I banned further letters from being circulated on the list.
As Klein points out – and of course the buzz word that accompanies every wing-nut analyst of the Daily Caller Pravda-ish presentation of the emails – is these is not much of a conspiracy here. One columnists would flaot some thoughts that were a bit goofy and would be shoot down rather quickly. Some liberal opinion columnists did not like McCain or Palin. Oh no, say it isn’t so I’m so shocked. Like some of the media actively jeered Al Gore doing the 1999 debates.
Jonathan Zasloff is mentioned directly in the Daily Caller selectively edited snips and responds here, in which I receive (and respond to) hate mail
And the best of all of them:
You commie pig, In November, we win. In January, we will restore the Republic and commie sluts like you will not like it here. You may want to move to the socialist country of your choice. You will be happier.
Take your slut wife with you.
Sigh. Actually, the first correspondent probably had a good point when he pointed out that if in fact Fox, as a cable station, doesn’t need an FCC license, then it’s all moot. Note: that’s why I wrote an e-mail, asking a question.
Zasloff question about Fox’s license was not unreasonable in a list which consisted of people talking about news, baseball, public officials and various public policy issues. The FCC of the United States has very high threshold for what constitutes inflammatory, defamatory and abusive speech, but it does have guidelines which Fox stretches to it’s limits,
News Distortion. The Commission often receives complaints concerning broadcast journalism, such as allegations that stations have aired inaccurate or one-sided news reports or comments, covered stories inadequately, or overly dramatized the events that they cover. For the reasons noted above, the Commission generally will not intervene in such cases because it would be inconsistent with the First Amendment to replace the journalistic judgment of licensees with our own. However, as public trustees, broadcast licensees may not intentionally distort the news: the FCC has stated that “rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest.” The Commission will investigate a station for news distortion if it receives documented evidence of such rigging or slanting, such as testimony or other documentation, from individuals with direct personal knowledge that a licensee or its management engaged in the intentional falsification of the news. Of particular concern would be evidence of the direction to employees from station management to falsify the news. However, absent such a compelling showing, the Commission will not intervene. For additional information about news distortion, see http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/journalism.html.
The Right has decided that merely bringing up the issue is like something Pravda would do. As usual the Right has it backwards. In a democracy with a free press, editorial writers are free to bring up such issues especially in light of the goals stated in the FCC’s own policy of licensing news organizations. Since much of Fox’s news content is distributed to local broadcasters, yes they are covered by those FCC rules. Fox does falsify the news and the FCC has not taken any action against them. So much for protecting the public air waves and the public interests. Zasloff’s question or, suggestion if one wants to spin it that way, was quickly shout down by his liberal co-conspirators.
It should be noted that the first half of the article had nothing to do with Fox News. Instead, it focused on a few people who saw comparisons between the rise of the tea party and the rise of the Nazis. I guess we’re supposed to be outraged by the comparison, and indeed, it is inappropriate. But for the right to get upset at liberals invoking Nazis comparisons, seems a bit disingenuous to say the least. After all, Media Matters has documented countless instances when right-wing media figures have done the same. And, has Glenn Beck ever had a show where he hasn’t called some progressive a fascist? I mean, get real.
Just to say that your post on journolist seems to me to be seriously misconceived. As a former member of journolist, I can tell you quite honestly that there wasn’t any story coordination, or anything like it. Nor, if you read the Daily Caller article carefully, despite its deliberately misleading headline, do they have any proof of same. A couple of the hotter heads on the list may sometimes have wanted journolists not to report on topic x or topic y, but no-one took them seriously. I’m on many listservs, and journolist was much the usual fare — a lot of arguments between people who disagreed with each other, gossip on journalism and sports, a fair amount of political speculation (which may have influenced people indirectly — but no more than any other conversation would), and a fair amount of exchange between journalists and academics and wonks on topics of their expertise. You’re really barking up the wrong tree here. There weren’t any marching orders — and indeed there was a fair amount of effort to make sure that it didn’t become a means of political organization.
Here is what we all have to beleive to make the JList shocking. There is no e-mail exchanges, organized or oterwise, between those in the Kool-Kids Koservative Klub saying the say or worse about non right-wingers – “Diann Jones, a vice chairman of the Collin County Republican Party, has apologized for an e-mail that some local judges denounced as racist.” – Carol Carter, forwarded a whimsical email to her loyal Republican colleagues around Tampa Bay about the very convenient ability of many black people to travel to Washington D.C. for Obama’s inauguration, despite the fact that many blacks drowned when Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans. – GOP Gals Make Hilarious Obama Welfare Coupons – Tea Party NY Gov Candidate’s E-Mails Exposed: Racism, Porn, Bestiality. We’re back to the glass houses versus glass skyscrapers comparison. Jlist relative small glass house – if it is a glass house at all for some self identified partisans exchange thoughts, versus the rampant virulence of the Right.
What’s maddening about this whole issue is that of course it’s impossible to prove a negative. The closest one can come, however, is reasonable inference. The Caller appears to have access to a very large proportion of JournoList emails and they can’t come up with anything that withstands cursory scrutiny. Nor are they willing to simply publish the full text of the pilfered emails they’re writing about, forcing their audience to instead rely on Jonathan Strong’s deliberately misleading writeups.
Let’s look at the Jlist brouhaha in the context of the Brietbart and the Right’s shrill and nasty reaction to a rather mild statement by the NAACP to repudiate the “elements of racism” within the conservative rebranding effort known as the tea nut movement. Every Conservative blog I’ve read has said – never quoted – the NAACP as accusing all tea party members as being racists. Their reaction, in addiction to discombobulating the original NAACP statement – was to be in such a hurry to get revenge for their hurt little feelings they cook up another edited tape. Some journalists – most of them opinion writers whose partisanship was no secret – say they don’t like conservatives – you know the way Fox, The National Review and most of the columnists at WaPo don’t like Democrats. So now the sleazy and overblown reaction to Jlist.