Thursday, July 22, 2010

Journolist: Trashing Sarah Palin

What's a group of liberal journalists and activists to do when faced with the unexpected pick by the Republican nominee of a little-known maverick Governor from Alaska?   Trash her of course, the question is how:
But in many other exchanges, the Journolisters clearly had another, more partisan goal in mind: to formulate the most effective talking points in order to defeat Palin and McCain and help elect Barack Obama president. The tone was more campaign headquarters than newsroom.

The conversation began with a debate over how best to attack Sarah Palin. “Honestly, this pick reeks of desperation,” wrote Michael Cohen of the New America Foundation in the minutes after the news became public. “How can anyone logically argue that Sarah Pallin [sic], a one-term governor of Alaska, is qualified to be President of the United States? Train wreck, thy name is Sarah Pallin.”

Not a wise argument, responded Jonathan Stein, a reporter for Mother Jones. If McCain were asked about Palin’s inexperience, he could simply point to then candidate Barack Obama’s similarly thin resume. “Q: Sen. McCain, given Gov. Palin’s paltry experience, how is she qualified to be commander in chief?,” Stein asked hypothetically. “A: Well, she has much experience as the Democratic nominee.”

“What a joke,” added Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker. “I always thought that some part of McCain doesn’t want to be president, and this choice proves my point. Welcome back, Admiral Stockdale.”

Daniel Levy of the Century Foundation noted that Obama’s “non-official campaign” would need to work hard to discredit Palin. “This seems to me like an occasion when the non-official campaign has a big role to play in defining Palin, shaping the terms of the conversation and saying things that the official [Obama] campaign shouldn’t say – very hard-hitting stuff, including some of the things that people have been noting here – scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing christia wing-nut a heartbeat away …… bang away at McCain’s age making this unusually significant …. I think people should be replicating some of the not-so-pleasant viral email campaigns that were used against [Obama].”
Hey, what if we say she was a sexist pick?:
Chris Hayes of the Nation wrote in with words of encouragement, and to ask for more talking points. “Keep the ideas coming! Have to go on TV to talk about this in a few min and need all the help I can get,” Hayes wrote.

Suzanne Nossel, chief of operations for Human Rights Watch, added a novel take: “I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualifications or views.”

Mother Jones’s Stein loved the idea. “That’s excellent! If enough people – people on this list? – write that the pick is sexist, you’ll have the networks debating it for days. And that negates the SINGLE thing Palin brings to the ticket,” he wrote.

Another writer from Mother Jones, Nick Baumann, had this idea: “Say it with me: ‘Classic GOP Tokenism’.”
There is a lot more, so please read the Daily Caller's report.  It has been repeatedly pointed out that these attacks are not particularly newsworthy as many on the list are opinion journalists and have no obligation to follow "ethics" prescribed for straight-news reporters.  While this may be true, at least one well-known journalist,  presented ideas generated in the listserv as their own:
Time’s Joe Klein then linked to his own piece, parts of which he acknowledged came from strategy sessions on Journolist. “Here’s my attempt to incorporate the accumulated wisdom of this august list-serve community,” he wrote. And indeed Klein’s article contained arguments developed by his fellow Journolisters. Klein praised Palin personally, calling her “fresh” and “delightful,” but questioned her “militant” ideology. He noted Palin had endorsed parts of Obama’s energy proposal.
It all seems quite dishonest doesn't it?  If there is truly nothing wrong with a group of opinion journalists sharing their ideas on the best strategy to tear down a Republican nominee why not acknowledge it openly?  Why go to lengths to present ideas from like-minded colleagues without attribution as your own?  The truth is these elitist opinion-makers know full well the general public is not likely to make the distinction between opinion and straight reporting.  After all, how much unbiased reporting has the general public actually been exposed to in their lifetime?

In the case of Sarah Palin these early coordinated attacks shaped the opinions of a public that held few if any preconceived opinions about the second woman to be nominated to the position of Vice President.  Is there any doubt these private discussions where over 400 liberal journalists and activists discussed what points they would stress and which they would minimize shaped the outcome of this election?

Read more:
Liberal Bias - What Liberal Bias?!

My Take on the Daily Caller Journolist Revelations

Put Your Emails Where Your Mouth Is

Election '08: Virtual High-Fives and Online Obamagasms for Journolist

Journolist: Aiding and Abetting THE Narrative

If the Sherrod story can last one more day

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