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Monday, July 26, 2010

Journolist Trig Emails - All About The Story Line

I have posted before about the left-wing blogosphere's obsession with mocking Trig Palin and attacking Sarah Palin for bringing Trig on stage during the campaign.

Now, in the latest revelations from the Journolist archives, The Daily Caller reprints Journolist emails regarding Trig. And obsessed with Trig they were, filling 15 screens in The Daily Caller post.

BUT, the emails were not what I expected. None of the Trig bashing that was prevalent in the blogosphere and even the mainstream media. Little talk of abortion, again, unlike the public attacks on Sarah.

While it was clear that just days after her nomination Sarah Palin was widely hated by those on the Journolist, at least those who wrote emails had not yet exhibited full blown Palin Derangement Syndrome.

Rather, the focus was on whether to jump on the bandwagon promoted by Andrew Sullivan and many others that Trig was Sarah's grandchild not child, and that Bristol Palin was the real mother. As documented here before, this was a very widespread point of attack immediately after Sarah was nominated, and by no means limited to Andrew Sullivan.

Some of the comments, to be fair, were benign and even protective. For example, Mark Kleiman of the Reality Based Community [sic] was all in favor of attacking Sarah on numerous points, but warned others "But leave the kid alone." Ezra Klein, founder of the Journolist, wrote: "By all accounts she’s a wonderful mother, and devoted to her fifth son [sic]. Leave this be."

A common point throughout the e-mails was that it was better to leave the issue of parentage alone because it could backfire politically.

Katha Pollit of The Nation cautioned:
If this baby story is true, palin will come out looking like a hero — she stepped in when her teen freaked out, threatened suicide, whatever. She went to extraordinary lengths, like a mother should do, to protect her daughter and solve the problem! No abortion necessary! Another pro-life fable for our times.
Shannon Brownlee of the New America Foundation took a similar line:
Katha’s point is that while some might find it reprehensible to raise a grandchild as your own, many if not most American’s don’t share that view. If the point of investigating this is to discredit Palin and show her up as an unfit mother and therefore unfit VP, the story may backfire. She comes out looking like a heroine not a villain.
The other theme was that it might be a set-up.

Lindsay Beyerstein, an author who blogged at numberous websites, warned that it could be a Republican dirty trick:
In the post-Rathergate era, journalists should be on their guard for Republican dirty tricks.

If this story gains traction, regardless of its truth or falsity, the Republicans will take steps to neutralize the meme.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the McCain campaign were to leak doctored evidence for the sole purpose of discrediting it and destroying the journalist who published it. That’s probably what the Killian memos were.

We should also be on guard for “evidence” falling into the lap of an unknown and easily discredited figure. That’s probably what Rove did to neutralize the allegations of cocaine use by George W. Bush, lo these many years ago.

If apparently well-substantiated allegations emerge, we should be alert for the story behind the story, so to speak.

Mark Kleiman reiterated this fear of a set up:

Politically, this smells like a red herring and a trap, and I think that the revelation that someone was sniffing around about it would outrage large numbers of voters. Palin’s public life presents a target-rich environment for

So this story desperately needs a good leaving-alone.

Adam Serwer of The American Prospect also smelled a set-up:
I gotta say, if this is much ado about nothing, the McCain campaign may be very happy to air these rumors in public. It gives them their first big opportunity to say that she’s being attacked unfairly, and because Democrats are sexist.
Rick Perlstein who worked for the Campaign for America's Future, suggested a reporter should obtain medial information about the Palins (which probably would be a violation of law) on the sly:
Remember how Eagleton went down: a reporter got a tip from someone who actually turned out (believe it or not, Nixon had nothing to do with it) to be a McGovern supporter worried he’d drag down the ticket. The reporter went to the hospital where Eagleton had allegedly been treated and said he was there to discuss Eagleton’s treatment, and an indiscreet hospital employee said something like s/he thought someone would find out about Eagleton’s mental problems (check this out; I’mworking from memory).

It’s not like an enterprising reporter couldn’t try the same thing today.

Of all the banter, perhaps the most important big picture item is that the discussion frequently centered on whether the story was worth running. This is the type of coordination and groupthink which has generated the criticism of the Journolist.

Moira Whelan, a Huffington Post blogger and Director of Strategy at National Security Network, was most blunt about it (emphasis mine):
I dont think anyone from this list is running with it, but as I see it, the task is to set the frame that the Palin pick showed bad judgment on McCain’s part. That way when/if it does pop, it gets into that meme without people having to express outrage.

If you really want to know what they were afraid of, Kathleen Geier of Talking Points Meme summed it up:
I am really hoping Palin will self-immolate and bring down the ticket with her.

Because if she proves to be a popular choice who doesn’t screw up too badly, she
could be really, really dangerous in the years to come.
The emerging picture of the Journolist is that it served as a place where like-minded people who had great influence on how the media portrayed events were able to coordinate their story lines for the benefit of the Obama campaign.

We saw the media bias on the surface; the Journolistas helped frame that bias below the surface.

Update: Moe Lane points out that many of the e-mails centered on trying to analyze photos of Sarah Palin for signs of pregnancy, and bizarre speculation as to Sarah's possible motives to lie.

Andrew Sullivan takes pleasure in the fact that the Journlistas engaged in the same speculation he did, even though they criticized him for it publicly:
Well, we now know, that, for some at least, I wasn't crazy. I was just not disciplined enough to curtail what this blog airs in order to conform with what many Journo-listers believed were the interests of the Obama campaign. Any delusions that Journo-List was not, in part, a collusory venture to shape the media narrative in ways to benefit Obama, above and beyond ferreting out the truth about any and all candidates, must now be abandoned. Ezra Klein has already been caught in a bald-faced lie about his discretion in picking members; and the notion that this was simply a water-cooler collection of journalistic thoughts is also belied by the emails now published by the Daily Caller.
Related Posts:
Psst...Don't Tell Andrew Sullivan Our Secret
Wonkette Goes After Trig Palin Again
Are Anti-Palin Intellectuals Anti-Intelligence?

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  1. "In the post-Rathergate era, journalists should be on their guard for Republican dirty tricks."

    There's a lady who needs to stop drinking the Flavor-Aid by the gallon.

  2. Wow,Jlisters, project much? LOL!

    Meanwhile, the JListers gave more respect to Sarah Palin than the GOP. They feared her power. Perhaps the GOP does,too. Perhaps they have reasons.

  3. So the Journal-listas started from a position of enSo on Palin, the Journal-istas started from a position of enlightened self-interest tempered by some actual ethics, and once they got over those problems, proceeded straight into the gutter.

    It is to their credit to hear the Leftists in Media actually paused for a bit at the thought of actually attacking a developmentally disabled infant and her mother. They have long since used that credit up, and then some, and then some more.

  4. If nothing else these emails show collusion among the MSM in order to get Obama elected. Once the press looses its objectivity it ceases to be an arm of free speech and rather a political propogandist. I wonder if the argument can be made that while there is freedom of speech, since they are no longer journalists but editorialists/propogandists/advertising persons, are they entitled to certain journalistic exemptions under law, such as the right to never divulge a source, etc?

    On the other hand it is nice to know at least that Sullivan (and a mere few of his compatriots)is truly in a morally moribound and ethically castrated class all to his own.

  5. Actually, this stuff is disturbing even if it doesn't rise to Andrew Sullivan's level of obsessive depravity. Gleeful little boys and an increasingly hoary Katha Pollit fantasizing online about Sarah Palin's maternity and childbirth records? Something both pathetic and frightening happened to liberal men in the last election (generation?). Then again, with den mothers like Pollit, Joan Walsh, and Eleanor Clift, what could one expect? The little princes clearly feel entitled to loathe women.

  6. "Once the press looses its objectivity it ceases to be an arm of free speech and rather a political propogandist."

    At no point in my life, which is far too long, has the media functioned as anything but the cheer leaders for the left-wing of the Democrat party. They have been as remote from objectivity as they are from Neptune.

  7. I agree that they were less cruel than I expected, but I was struck by what appeared to be a brainstorming session aimed at finding the "best" way to make problems for Palin -- including, unless I'm misreading, the theory (hope?) that incest may have been involved. It was a sickening peek into the minds of so-called journalists who decided what they'd like the story to be before they had any facts or evidence to support that story. And what is it with the cinematic references? Hollywood fiction seems to be a reference point for some of these Journolistas. It's clear they have contempt for the intelligence of the average American. Perhaps they think they can "sell" their stories better if it follows some Hollywood storyline?

  8. LI: We saw the media bias on the surface;
    the Journolistas helped frame that bias
    below the surface.

    Neither MSM nor JL seems to realize that
    the waters of inquiry have grown still
    and transparent in the Information Age;
    The surface ripples moving against the
    current, and the beast below, are both
    clearly visible.

  9. What I found interesting was the fact that while a few of the JournListas' emails wanted to leave this story along as being politically radioactive, most indulged in some twisted "what if it were true" fantasies. A few (such as Kathleen Geier, Ryan Donmoyer, Laura Rozen, Mark Schmitt, Michael Cohen, Lindsay Beyerstein, Brad DeLong, Avi Zenilman, Rick Perlstein ,and Bob Mackey) were actively pushing the story.

    Of everything that has come out, this is by far the most damaging.

    After reading the emails I think it is safe to say that the people who participated in JournoList are evil - period. "Evil" is the only word that accurately describes a group of journalists who discuss how best to use a newborn with Downs Syndrome for political gain.

  10. Just too bad that Sarah was so defensive on Couric (which democraplite McCain staffers booked her on no doubt to 'self immolate') that she played right into the socialist meme with little time to correct that mistake. Though she has been more correct on most issues of the day than the vaunted democraps and Obama Administration, her fauxes pas(es) have been used to Quayle-ize her.

  11. btw, memo to Sullivan.

    Yes, you are crazy. You might have had company, but yes, you are crazy.

  12. How many others, like me, feel like taking a shower, and then going for a walk somewhere beautiful ..... to try and remove from the mind such sordid activity ..... I don't know how I would react if I saw any of these journOlist people in public ......

    Does anyone know HOW DC came into possession of these emails? Could it be that someone on that list has had a change of heart and is doing the country a service by shining a light on this shameful and degrading activity?

  13. "If you really want to know what they were afraid of, Kathleen Geier of Talking Points Meme summed it up:
    'I am really hoping Palin will self-immolate and bring down the ticket with her.

    Because if she proves to be a popular choice who doesn’t screw up too badly, she could be really, really dangerous in the years to come.'"

    The hypocrisy in that statement leaves me nearly breathless. Geier, ignoring the danger she herself poses to the American political process by volunteering to be a propagandist disguised as a reporter, worries that a popular politician is dangerous to the political process? Puh-leeeze!