Well no, they’re fictional — but then, considering the postmodern worldview of many on the list, that’s probably a feature, non a bug. In any case, the American Spectator’s John Tabin has a post on “Journolist, Media Conspiracies, and ‘Japanese Tentacle Porn.'” The latter of which, being sort of Cthulu-esque is better seen in the corner of the above screen capture from the first episode of Mad Men’s third season last year than straight on. As for the former, let’s let Tabin explain:
For some baffling reason, liberal journalists seem to have believed that they could expand the membership of an email listserv to include 400 people without worrying that anyone would be ethically flexible enough to violate the off-the-record ground rules. They are now being spectacularly embarrassed by leaks from that listserv, called Journolist, mostly through the reporting of the Daily Caller.
There have been many complaints on the left about the way the Caller is reporting the story. The primary bone of contention is that quotes from the dumbest things ever said on the list are being taken out of context to give the impression that everyone agreed with them. If we were to see these Journolist threads in context, we are told, we would see that Journolist wasn’t so much a hive-mind conspiracy to control media coverage as just a group of likeminded people debating and sharing ideas. (Of course, the ability to share ideas at the speed of email does have an effect on what journalists say, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)
Read on for the rest of his post’s titular subject, which as a metaphor, dovetails into the other problem with the JournoList, as James DeLong explores at the American Enterprise blog:
The real problem with JournoList is that much of it consisted of exchanges among people who worked for institutions about how to best hijack their employers for the cause of Progressivism. Thus, the J-List discussion revealed yesterday in the Daily Caller was about how the group could get their media organizations to play down the Reverend Wright affair and help elect Barack Obama.
Were I an editor of one of these institutions, I would instantly fire any employee who participated in this gross violation of his/her duty. For example, the J-List included Washington Post reporters, and the idea that the paper has been turned into a propaganda organ is a big reason it is bleeding readers and influence.
Of course, it is possible that the Post’s editors were on the list, since the membership is not known, in which case the corporate executives should fire the editors, or the board should fire the executives, or the stockholders should fire the board. (If Director Warren Buffet was on J-List, I give up.)
So here, JournoList is composed not of reporters who happen to be “Progressives,” but of Progressives who boast about how to perfect and use their capture of their employers. This is in itself institutional rot, but the more serious rot is the failure of the managers of those institutions to react to the problem. And if you search the WaPo over the past couple of days, there is nothing on the Daily Caller stories, so either management does not care or it does not read anything out of its comfort zone, such as the Daily Caller, and has not been informed by its subordinates, the former members of J-List (surprise!).
As for the academics on the list, were I a university president or trustee, I would be bothered by the idea that my “scholars” are so willing to hijack the institutional name and resources for political advocacy, but academia may be too far beyond redemption for its managers to grasp the concept that intellectual integrity is a brand value.
Paging Roger Kimball, Roger Kimball to the white courtesy phone, please.
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