Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Tone-Deaf Liberal Media

Dear liberals, journalists (same thing) and nutjobs,
Despite your attempts to distract from the real story of the Journolist scandal (see Amanda Marcotte's piece, Writing Future Scandals So the Right Doesn't Have To, most people actually get what the problem is with having a listserv where you strategize how to cover news. Keep telling yourselves that speaking at a convention where, assumably, anyone can pay to attend, is exactly like being in a group that (a) no one gets to know about and (b) only people on the left are allowed to join. Yeah, those are exactly the same!

Fortunately, some liberals get the problem with Journolist:

Chuck Todd, political director and chief White House correspondent for NBC News, who was not part of Journolist, told me this:

“I am sure Ezra had good intentions when he created it, but I am offended the right is using this as a sledgehammer against those of us who don’t practice activist journalism.

“Journolist was pretty offensive. Those of us who are mainstream journalists got mixed in with journalists with an agenda. Those folks who thought they were improving journalism are destroying the credibility of journalism.

“This has kept me up nights. I try to be fair. It’s very depressing.”

Emphasis mine.

I've always told friends and family that sure, journalists are liberals, but most of them actually try to keep their biases in check and function as reporters and editors. It's possible to do this if you remain mindful of your own opinions and remain faithful to the idea that objectively presenting information is more persuasive than distorting the facts. But Journolist has turned that argument on its head; it has given the Rush Limbaugh's of the world the best evidence that there is indeed a liberal cabal planning news coverage and spinning events to favor certain (Democrat, liberal) candidates and disfavor (Republican, conservative) others. And worse for journalists is that no one remains untarred by this broad brush.

I'm sure Ezra Klein thought it would be really cool to allow liberal journalists to vent in private about the people and events they write about publicly, but doing so in this way is simply unethical. Journalists sitting around a bar talking about the events of the day is one thing, but I never met a reporter who talked with his buddies about how to prevent damage to one candidate from inconvenient information. That's not journalism. That's public relations.