Another day, another right-wing media freak out. Today, the right is in a tizzy over a Daily Caller exclusive scoop that "documents show media plotting to kill stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright." Except, of course, their "documents" show no such thing.
The Daily Caller purports to have obtained copies of emails from the "Journolist" listserv, which they report is "comprised of several hundred liberal journalists, as well as like-minded professors and activists." Their big, breaking story exposes that some liberal journalists and a professor were outraged by an April 2008 Democratic Presidential primary debate -- a debate that was widely criticized as being "specious and gossipy." As you may recall, during that debate Obama was asked questions such as, "Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?"; "How do you convince Democrats" that not wearing an American flag lapel pin "would not be a vulnerability?"; and "Can you explain" your "relationship" with Bill Ayers, a question that was literally suggested to moderator George Stephanopoulos by right-wing radio hosts.
The debate was, in a word, ridiculous. And numerous media figures agreed. The Daily Caller highlights portions of the purported Journolist emails which showed several participants discussing how best to frame and word an open letter to ABC News condemning the debate. Each of the media figures mentioned in the Daily Caller report was an opinion columnist or a blogger. Hardly the stuff of a mainstream media conspiracy, though the Caller desperately tried to paint it as such. They specifically said that journalists from Time and Politico were involved in the discussion, but the article provides absolutely no evidence to back this up.
So, yes, it appears that the big scandal is that liberal journalists and professors talked to each other about how to frame a publically released letter to ABC News. Stop the presses!
Expanding on the stupidity of the Daily Caller report is the fact that many of these same journalists were very clear and very open about their displeasure with the ABC news debate at the time.
The Guardian's Michael Tomasky called the debate "awful" and chided the media for pushing "this kind of guilty-by-association" attacks, as ABC did by questioning Obama's relationship with Ayers. He also said of the debate: "The main point is how poorly the inanity and irresponsibility of this approach serves a country in which people are genuinely worried about genuinely important things." Salon's Joe Conason assailed "[t]he sorry performance of ABC anchors Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos" and predicted that it "should serve as a signal of the coverage to come. Playing gotcha with Democrats and patty-cake with Republicans will remain basic operating procedure for the mainstream media this year, no different from the past half-dozen presidential campaigns -- except that the additional bias in favor of John McCain may make a bad situation worse."
Yet, to the right, the Daily Caller's story is nothing short of a revelation. Andrew Breitbart cites it as "prov[ing] beyond a shadow of doubt that most media organizations are either complicit by participation in the treachery that is Journolist, or are guilty of sitting back and watching Alinsky warfare being waged against all that challenged the progressive orthodoxy." He calls the journalists on the listserv "nothing but street thugs" who "deserve the deepest levels of public consternation." He then adds:
The only way that the media will recover from the horrifying discoveries found in the Journolist is to investigate and investigate until every guilty reporter, professor and institution is laid bare begging America for forgiveness. Will they do it?
Off with their heads!
Erick Erickson claims "it was as we all expected," "members of the media plotted to shut down coverage of Jeremiah Wright." Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft declares "Journolist exposed: Documents prove leftist media hacks buried Rev. Wright story during election." He also describes the story as "the death of journalism," adding "Leftist media hacks on the national scene buried the Jeremiah Wright story to protect their favored candidate." And, of course, Hoft adds some video of Jeremiah Wright, just for fun. Proving once again that right-wing blogs drive their news coverage, Fox News has picked up the nonstory. Fox & Friends stooge Steve Doocy teased a report on the story by saying, that the media was "plotting top kill negative stories about" Rev. Wright "to protect the White House." From Fox & Friends:
Of course, this isn't the first time that the media has freaked out about liberals being liberals. (Remember when Breitbart discovered that some college professors dabble in politics?) And, I promise you this will not be the last.