‘The line,’ &c.


I know that “Journolist” has been mightily picked over — and picked on — but I have done very little of it. And would like to do some picking now, if you can bear with me. “Journolist,” you remember, is — was — an e-mail community of hundreds of liberal or left-wing or whatever journalists. Plus professors, operatives, and some assorted others. They hashed things out privately — but the Daily Caller has obtained their e-mails, or at least a lot of them, and published them. Or some. Enough to get the flavor — more flavor than you would probably want.

Okay, let me commence with a little picking . . .

Bob Novak used to say, ‘That’s the line” — he said it with dismissive contempt. Someone else, usually on the left, would make some excuse or give some talking point, and Novak’d say, “That’s the line.” I can just hear him.

My friend Jeff and I took this up between ourselves: Someone would say something — maybe even one of us would — and we’d say, “Yeah, that’s the line!” It was just kind of fun. “I don’t think I’ll play very well tomorrow because I’m in the process of making some swing changes.” “Yeah, that’s the line!”

So I was interested to see that a Journolister headed an e-mail — or “e-mail thread” — “The line on Palin.” He was not being ironic, as far as I can tell. He was really and truly formulating a line. And the line was this: “John McCain picked someone to help him politically, Barack Obama picked someone to help him govern” (Biden).

You know, I remember hearing that a lot, from the Left, in the immediate post-Palin days. Do you?

Okay, some more line-formulation — I’ll quote from a Daily Caller piece on Journolist:

After Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate seat, threatening to kill the health care legislation by his presence, [a Washington Post reporter] stressed how important it was for reporters to highlight what a terrible candidate his opponent Martha Coakley had been.


“I think pointing out Coakley’s awfulness is vital, because it’s 1) true and 2) unreasonable panic about it is doing more damage to the Democrats.”

It seems to me that journalists don’t think and talk this way, or should not; party operatives think and talk this way. Party operatives sit around coming up with the line. To see journalists doing it is a little . . . sick-making.

Always, there is the herd mentality — we see the herd at work. A big-time writer said, “Listen folks — in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have.” What he meant was, people from ABC had asked Candidate Obama about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. That was intolerable; the askers had to be “killed.”

And don’t you love that “in whatever venues we have”? Oh, they have a lot! Most of the media, in fact.

Another big-timer gave a link to a piece he had written and said, “Here’s my attempt to incorporate the accumulated wisdom of this august list-serve community.”

Another big-timer, on another subject: “As a side note, does anyone know what prompted Michael Barone to go insane?” Barone is not insane; he is one of the best political minds in America. Often, he expresses conservative opinions — and that, of course, is what makes him “insane,” according to some. Back in the USSR, they used to put those with dissenting views in nuthouses. They were merely ill, you see.

One thing that struck me about Journolist was the sheer thuggery of the talk. I mean, it’s a little shocking. Here you go:

It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [something] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

Well, that’s good to know! The same Journolister wrote, “Let’s throw Ledeen against a wall.” That would be Michael Ledeen, one of the country’s foremost experts on the Middle East (and Italy and other things). Or “throw him through a plate glass window.” This guy seems to have a thing for plate-glass windows. “I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the fuck up, as with most bullies.”

Ledeen knows nothing about how to bully compared with this crew. You know, what Ledeen does with most of his life is fight the mullahs — fight the extremists and oppressors and bombers in the Middle East. You would think that other liberal democrats would join him. If that’s, in fact, what they are. (Am I a McCarthyite for saying that?) Ledeen thinks of the mullahs and their associates as the enemy; other Americans, I’ve noticed, think of Ledeen, and people like him, as the enemy. Which is tragic.