Jonah Goldberg

Like an Amish community raising a barn, members of the progressive community got together to hammer out talking points. Amidst a discussion of Palin, Chris Hayes, a writer for the Nation, wrote: "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." Time's Joe Klein admitted to his fellow Journolisters that he'd collected the listserv's bric-a-brac and fashioned it into a brickbat aimed at Palin.

Many conservatives think Journolist is the smoking gun that proves not just liberal media bias (already well-established) but something far more elusive as well: the Sasquatch known as the Liberal Media Conspiracy.

I'm not so sure. In the 1930s, The New York Times deliberately whitewashed Stalin's murders. In 1964, CBS reported that Barry Goldwater was tied up with German Nazis. In 1985, the Los Angeles Times polled 2,700 journalists at 621 newspapers and found that journalists identified themselves as liberal by a factor of 3 to 1. Their actual views on issues were far more liberal than even that would suggest. Just for the record, Ezra Klein was born in 1984.

In other words, Journolist is a symptom, not the disease. And the disease is not a secret conspiracy but something more like the "Open Conspiracy" H.G. Wells fantasized about, where the smartest, best people at every institution make their progressive vision for the world their top priority.

As James DeLong, a fellow at the Digital Society, correctly noted on the Enterprise Blog, "The real problem with JournoList is that much of it consisted of exchanges among people who worked for institutions about how to best hijack their employers for the cause of Progressivism."

For a liberal activist that's forgivable, I guess. But academics? Reporters? Editors? Even liberal opinion writers aren't supposed to "coordinate" their messages with the mothership.

The conservative movement at least admits it is a movement (even though conservatives outnumber liberals 2-1 in this country). Establishment liberalism, not just in the press but also in the White House, academia and Hollywood, holds power by refusing to make the same concession. "This isn't about ideology. ... We just call them like we see them. ... We don't have an agenda."

The open conspiracy that perpetuates that lie is far more pernicious than any chat room.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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