The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Today’s Lesson on JournoList: Helping Joe Klein Write


Today’s leak of the JournoList discussions to the Daily Caller is the list’s reaction to the pick of Sarah Palin. A lot of it is predictable, garden-variety “what are her weaknesses?” talk, probably not all that different from every other left-of-center political circle at that moment. But there’s one note that raises the theme of collective group activity to influence media coverage of the new vice-presidential candidate:

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.

Since the Right learned of the existence of JournoList, a recurring joke has been along the lines of, “oh, he doesn’t know what to say yet, he hasn’t gotten his talking points from JournoList.” The members of the list can scream to high heaven that most of the comments represent no collusion at all. But clearly, from time to time, those on the list felt comfortable saying, “Okay, team, here’s what we do” and laying out strategies to ensure coverage helped the candidates their prefer. We now know that in at least one case, that’s what happened — and I doubt too many folks will be surprised by the culprit:

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.

In other words, the off-the-record discussions of what message would be most harmful to the GOP on JournoList shaped Klein’s column in Time at least once.

Tags: JournoList , Sarah Palin


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