Ezra Klein sent me a polite email late Thursday, trying to answer my concerns regarding the JournoList. We had a nice exchange, though I don’t know if what was said allayed my main concern.
But since my words have been repeatedly misconstrued and misunderstood, lets be clear about some things. My objection is simply this: I do think that as a matter of personal ethics it’s clearly innappropriate for government employees or members of a mainstream, ostensibly objective, media outlet to participate in such a list, without at a minimum disclosing it. This is a simple, obvious point — one that Matt Welch certainly had no trouble grasping.
We could discuss this more, but unfortunately Ezra doesn’t want me quoting even the general statements he made to me about the composition of the list for fear it might engender even more questions about who’s on the list.
Ezra made a sincere attempt to reach out to me, which I appreciate and I think better of Ezra for doing it. But without more specifically being able to talk the composition of the list, further discussion is ridiculous. Based on what I wrote, it should be obvious enough that I never thought there was anything particularly conspiratorial about the list. If it were a talking points factory that would be antithetical to the purpose of a discussion list. Still, Ezra was at pains to assure me there was no scheming on the list. I was more concerned about disclosure and whether any journalists on the list were producing stories shaped inordinately by liberal policymakers and and making sure opposing views got similar access.
So am I particularly worried what’s happening on the JournoList on a given day? I never was. In part because I agree with my esteemed colleague that there’s already a “surfeit of evidence” the media is liberal. But I think any evidence the media is behaving badly shouldn’t be ignored either.
I do think it’s telling that reaction to the mild criticisms expressed by myself and others such as Mickey Kaus were portrayed as paranoid — or much worse in Kaus’ case. This is especially true in relation to the “pomposity of the participants” as Welch put it, that came through in Calderone’s article. If the list was kept secret for two years, surely there was some awareness that aspects of the list could look bad if not explained. When people understandably wanted more information and raised concerns, that should have been addressed instead of, say, calling me “wingnutty” or sending Ezra’s Klein’s friends on the list into wailing-for-a-juicebox tantrums. I think its pretty obvious now the rollout here was botched, and at this point the JournoList has largely themselves to blame if they don’t like the way the list is being characterized.
UPDATE: Ezra does want to make one thing very clear — despite some of the names that have been thrown around, “Government employees have never been, and are not now, allowed on the list.” Good to know.