Monday, August 2, 2010

Instapundit's take on the JournoList scandal

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a University of Tennessee law professor and author of the  blog, He wrote this in the Knox Sentinel.
Controversy proves collusion among liberal journalists

Conservatives have long claimed that the media is biased against them and tries hard to shape stories in ways that help Democrats and hurt Republicans. This has sometimes been dismissed as paranoia - as in my former MSNBC co-blogger Eric Alterman's book, "What Liberal Media?" - but it turns out to be truer than they imagined.

If this were a Hollywood movie, there would have been clandestine meetings in basements or bars or parking garages. But since it was real life, it was just an e-mail list, called "JournoList," set up by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein. It had over 400 members, including reporters at top publications like the Post, the New York Times, Newsweek, Politico, PBS, Time, etc.
Like most email lists, much of the content was profane or sophomoric - like Alterman's reference to Bush supporters as "f***ing Nascar retards," public radio producer Sarah Spitz's expressed desire to stand by laughing as Rush Limbaugh expired from a heart attack, or blogger Spencer Ackerman's fantasies about shoving conservative pundits through plate-glass windows. Such explosions might raise doubts about these figures' objectivity or ability to cover news honestly, but overall they are more embarrassing than incriminating.
But there was worse. Some JournoList members talked about getting the FCC to shut down Fox News, or about denying web traffic to rivals deemed too conservative. And, most troubling, there were concerted efforts to choose a storyline and spread it across the outlets for which they all worked, so as to manipulate the public's perceptions. When John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, JournoList participants coordinated their attacks.
......No doubt publishing these never-intended-for-publication remarks is, at some level, unfair: The list members were just venting to their friends. But, of course, so were lots of other people whose off-the-cuff remarks have been blown up into national stories by journalists over the years. And efforts to covertly shape the news, hurt competitors, and influence elections (JournoList members referred to themselves as the "unofficial Obama campaign") aren't the sort of thing that journalist think deserve privacy the rest of the time when they're done by people who aren't journalists.

Let this be a warning to those who forget that in today's digital world, the only way to have a private thought is not to write it down. You'd think that journalists, of all people, would have figured that out by now.
You can read the rest here.

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