JournoList scandal: Pointing out the obvious
It was the moment of greatest peril for then-Sen. Barack Obama’s political career. In the heat of the presidential campaign, videos surfaced of Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, angrily denouncing whites, the U.S. government and America itself. Obama had once bragged of his closeness to Wright. Now the black nationalist preacher’s rhetoric was threatening to torpedo Obama’s campaign.
The crisis reached a howling pitch in mid-April, 2008, at an ABC News debate moderated by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. Gibson asked Obama why it had taken him so long – nearly a year since Wright’s remarks became public – to dissociate himself from them. Stephanopoulos asked, “Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?”
Watching this all at home were members of Journolist, a listserv comprised of several hundred liberal journalists, as well as like-minded professors and activists. The tough questioning from the ABC anchors left many of them outraged. “George [Stephanopoulos],” fumed Richard Kim of the Nation, is “being a disgusting little rat snake.”
Others went further. According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.
In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”
“Richard Kim got this right above: ‘a horrible glimpse of general election press strategy.’ He’s dead on,” Tomasky continued. “We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”
(In an interview Monday, Tomasky defended his position, calling the ABC debate an example of shoddy journalism.)
Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun as well as a political science professor, upped the ante from there. In a post with the subject header, “why don’t we use the power of this list to do something about the debate?” Schaller proposed coordinating a “smart statement expressing disgust” at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.
“It would create quite a stir, I bet, and be a warning against future behavior of the sort,” Schaller wrote.
Tomasky approved. “YES. A thousand times yes,” he exclaimed.
The members began collaborating on their open letter. Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones rejected an early draft, saying, “I’d say too short. In my opinion, it doesn’t go far enough in highlighting the inanity of some of [Gibson's] and [Stephanopoulos’s] questions. And it doesn’t point out their factual inaccuracies …Our friends at Media Matters probably have tons of experience with this sort of thing, if we want their input.”
As Professor Reynolds urges, read it all. It's three pages long, and it's eye-opening to those who still think the media is an unbiased observer/reporter of the news of the day. They're not, folks. They haven't been ever since the day that Walter Duranty whitewashed Stalin's atrocities in the Soviet Union. It continued through Walter Kronkite's days as a biased journalist, and up through Dan Rather who was made infamous for his story about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, informally dubbed "Rathergate."
(The "th" superscripted in the scandal's title refers to the "th" in the Killian memo denoting the 187th fighter wing that Bush was a member of. The "th" in 187th was superscripted; a task unable to be done on typewriters of the day, and required a different typewriter for that sort of feature that Killian's secretary said he never would have used for such a compartmentalized memo.)
In short, Mr. Strong is revealing nothing more than what we already knew. The media is biased. They can't deny it, and they can't even explain it. In numerous interviews with journalists, Hugh Hewitt has consistently asked those reporters if there is a bias in the media. By an overwhelming majority, they tell him there is, and it's to the liberal side of the issues/ideology.
Are all media outlets included in this? Yes they are, even FOX News. Ywes, even FOX News has its ideological liberals. The difference between them and others is that they still present a balanced approach to news commentary, and when they report the news they do so as journalist of old did -- Report the facts, and let the viewer/listener determine the truth or veracity of the story. MSM outlets, like those listed in Mr. Strong's piece, don't do that. They start from a point of ideological bias, and craft the story (or defense of, in the case of Barry and Jeremiah Wright) around that bias.
Professor Reynolds also brings up another take on the media on his site today. It comes from Maimon Schwarzschild at Right Coast:
The usual disillusioned phrase is “mainstream media” or MSM. The problem, of course, is not mainstream-hood. Angrily talking about the “state-run media” is even more misguided: the media were anything but state-run, or state-sympathetic, when Bush was president; and Republican or conservative officials or judges can expect relentless hostility now as much as ever.
What we have is One-Party Media: newspapers, broadcast networks, newsmagazines which represent the views and preoccupations of the Democratic Party and the political left, and consistently denigrate or ignore the views and preoccupations of the political right or centre-right; and which very often systematically ignore any news or information which might reflect badly on the one party, or reflect well on the policies, proposals, or values of the other. . . . It is extraordinary, and I think unprecedented, that a free press has voluntarily transformed itself into something not very different from the controlled press in an undemocratic country. But that is what has happened.
Say it with me, folks: "Understatement of the Year." We do have nothing more than a One-Party Media, for the most part, and they will do anything they can to protect this incompetent, obtuse, agenda-driven president that was elected by a majority of America that were sucked in by a snake-oil salesman. He offered them "hope" and "change;" empty rhetoric that didn't require any specificity. But now that the people see that the emperor has no clothes (and no clue, for that matter), they're turning on him. Thanks to those who are investigating the JournoList scandal, we see that the all powerful Wizard IS hiding behind the curtain, and that the media -- the Wizard -- is the source of Barry's real power. So long as his willing defenders are ready to paint dissenters as racists (their preferred card in this debate) Barry is safe behind the facade of competence and power. In fact, he's a weak, petulant bully. They know it. We know it. And now we know that they know it otherwise there wouldn't have been a need to dig in and coordinate a defense for him.