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JournoList: Overblown Scandal And Sad Commentary

Still nursing a very sore right paw (hand), so blogging has been pretty close to impossible. Some new meds appear to be working, thus I’ll take a chance I can ┬ábang out a few posts without doing further damage.

Let’s start with the now infamous JournoList tempest.

If you’ve missed this one, it’s about a Progressive e-mail group that traded ideas related to the great and not so great issues of the day. A Washington Post writer was fired after it was disclosed that he had exhibited Progressive tendencies as a member of the group even though he was one of the Post’s designated conservative bloggers. The proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing as it were.

Anyway, the archives fell into unfriendly hands and the group has been outed as it were. The founder of the email cabal, Ezra Klein, a blogger for the Washington Post of more than a little note closed down the site post-haste. That might have been a futile effort as it appears that the archives, or at least a big part of them, have been captured and the more damaging and/or embarrassing items are showing up on the Web.

The source of most of the disclosure is The Daily Caller, a conservative blog. They’re playing it for all its worth, so click on over if you want to really dive into this thing.

The rather unsurprising facts of the matter are that a bunch of Progressives were emailing each other their standard party line. They talked about the Conservative figures they loathed and discussed ways and means to advance their ideology. Some of that discussion involved suggestions about how to color or slant certain events to achieve their desired outcome.

For the most part, I tend to agree with Clive Crook who thinks that all of this is pretty unremarkable. If you set up a group of like-minded people to exchange views, they are generally going to do little more than reinforce a sort of group think. With 400 participants you’re going to get more than a couple of idiots who will pen the sort of nonsensical stuff that lends an aura of smarminess to the endeavor.

Having said that, there have been several writers who felt that the suggestions in the emails as to how to portray certain events in order to achieve Progressives’ desired outcomes were at best discomforting. James DeLong and Dave Schuler both feel that the members of the group, many of which are reputedly unbiased reporters, were actively engaged in constructing propaganda campaigns to be used on the pages of their employers’ media to advance their personal causes.

Through all of this, the members of the email group have attempted to portray their critics as at best shrill. Their defense is that the group amounted to nothing more than a club which exchanged thoughts and bounced ideas off one and other. That may be true but the speed with which Ezra Klein shut down the site suggests that there was probably more there than he or others would like to see the light of day. He also saw fit yesterday to write not one but two posts on the subject, each claiming to be his final discussion of the project. In essence protesting innocence too much.

JournoList was an egotistical and partisan endeavor that would at best been never undertaken. No laws were broken and though ethics might have been bent, they weren’t broken. It, however, has a smell that will cling to the participants for some time as well as diminish their credibility among those outside of their chosen circle.

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