When Presidential candidate Obama came under fire for his decades-long connection with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Spencer Ackerman suggested to participants in JournoList, an online organization of liberal journalists, that its participants come to the aid of Mr. Obama by launching a smear attack against Karl Rove and Fred Barnes [photo left], to attack them as racists, and divert attention from the controversial Reverend Wright. In a column in the Wall Street Journal online, Mr. Barnes quotes Mr. Ackerman's proposal:
"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them—Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares—and call them racists. . . . This makes them 'sputter' with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."
And how did the JournoList participants react to this idea? Mr. Barnes notes, "No one on JournoList endorsed the Ackerman plan. But rather than object on ethical grounds, they voiced concern that the strategy would fail or possibly backfire."
Ezra Klein, a prominent columnist for the Washington Post, founded JournoList and last month, as its activities became public, terminated it. I suspect it has merely gone to ground to reorganize elsewhere.
Mr. Barnes points out that the activities of JouroList go well beyond the typical media group think, which one might attribute to common background, values and culture. He notes:
I think JournoList is—or was—fundamentally different, and not simply because one of its members proposed to make palpably false accusations. As best I can tell, those involved in JournoList considered themselves part of a team. And their goal was to make sure the team won. In 2008, this was Mr. Obama's team. More recently, the goal seems to have been to defeat the conservative team.
One need only read Townhall.com, HotAir.com or a dozen other conservative websites to confirm that there is also a conservative team of journalists, and they talk with one another, discuss political tactics and strategy and cooperate with one another. One sees the same thing on the opposite side of the spectrum at MNBC. However, the critical difference in those cases is that the political bias of the journalists is put out front for all to see. The pernicious aspect of JournoList was that its members held themselves out as "traditional mainstream journalists," not partisan activists.
Hugh Hewitt warned us about this. Up with transparency, down with hidden-agenda journalism.