Roger L. Simon

Journolist, Jeremiah Wright and Groucho Marx

One thing hasn’t changed since my lefty days pre-9/11. I still admire the immortal words of Groucho Marx: “I’d never join a club that would have me as a member!”

And I never felt them so acutely as when reading Jonathan Strong’s excerpts in the Daily Caller this morning, regarding the Journolist crew’s reaction to the Jeremiah Wright affair. These quotes from a private list of soi-disant liberal journalists read like outtakes from some notebook stolen from a proto-Trotskyite home for the aged — and not one of them is faintly clever. What a bunch of fuddy-duddys. Yes, I know Strong was being selective for his own purposes, but still … these guys are writers? Hunter Thompson not. For that matter, Roger Kimball not.

But forget the paucity of imagination and style, what about the group think? These are the independent minds that seek to mold our culture and political lives? Nowhere to be found is an original thought – unless you count accusing Karl Rove of racism as a brainstorm.

Well, we have had the generation gap and tons of other gaps. Now Journolist reveals we have an “elitism gap.” Gone are the days of the Algonquin Round Table to be replaced by a cabal of humdrum mediocrities on a listservr plotting how to justify the racist ravings of a reactionary theocrat.

Nowhere in evidence, at least in Strong’s article, is the single question any rational mind would ask re: Obama-Wright at the height of a political campaign. Just why did Barack Obama remain in the pew of this reverend for twenty years? But enough of rationality. Journolist clearly isn’t about truth. It’s about winning. What it gives us, inadvertently or not, is the profession of journalism unmasked. And what we see is, alas, what we already knew. And it ain’t pretty.

Journalism, no matter what the J-schools say, is not cardiology. It’s not even plumbing. It’s just another biased human activity practiced by those who can get — and keep — the job. The Daily Caller has performed a service in publishing the dull maunderings of the Journolist crowd. It takes them all down yet another peg. How many are left to go?

Of course, this doesn’t apply just to self-described liberals or leftists. Simply because their ideology is in desperate retreat doesn’t make them unique in this regard. No matter what our views, we are all merely citizens of a virtual Grub Street. Almost anyone can do what we do. In his jaunty cynicism, James Boswell had more to say about the life of a journalist than all the professors at Columbia added up and squared. The “elite” members of Journolist, who take themselves sooo seriously, would be well advised to read — our reread — his London Journal.

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