Media Scandals

By Lachlan Markay | July 29, 2010 | 12:49 PM EDT
The Daily Caller released a new JournoList scoop today, and this one's a doozy. It confirms that reporters on the liberal media listserv did in fact collaborate with political operatives and campaign officials to spin media coverage in favor of Barack Obama.

The latest piece further debunks JournoList founder Ezra Klein's claims - also taken on by this humble blogger - that the email list did not include campaign or government officials, and was not used to manufacture talking points.

In fact, two members of the Obama campaign, Jared Bernstein and Jason Furman, were JournoList members during the race. Jeff Hauser reportedly signed a number of JournoList emails "Campaign Manager, Shulman for Congress," while he worked on New Jersey Democratic congressional candidate Dennis Shulman's campaign.

And talking points were a much-discussed issue. "JournoList’s greatest challenge is to make sure an actual win by Obama translates into winning the battle for political impact," Houser stated on one occasion. It doesn't get more explicit than that.
By Lachlan Markay | July 28, 2010 | 4:44 PM EDT

UPDATE: Louis's retort considered - and debunked - below. UPDATE II: Louis makes a pretty outrageous claim on his twitter account. Details below.

Here's a helpful tip if you ever run for federal office: make sure to curry favor with journalists so that if you're ever charged with multiple ethics violations, those journalists won't ask you difficult questions. It works - just ask Charlie Rangel!

The New York congressman, chairman of the House panel in charge of the tax code, will likely be charged in a number of violations of the ethics code. Among the alleged violations is a charge that he extended a $500 million tax loophole to an oil executive in exchange for donations to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.

No matter, says New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis, who admitted to refraining from asking Rangel any tough questions in an interview. His reason: Rangel has "been a friend to my show and he's given us a lot of good inside information."

By Brent Bozell | July 28, 2010 | 12:50 PM EDT

Managing Editor's Note: What follows is an open letter from NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell to Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli about the controversial [now defunct] e-mail listserv JournoList, founded and operated by the Post's Ezra Klein.

The JournoList scandal is getting worse every day and The Washington Post is at the center of it. Blogger Ezra Klein ran the operation and at least three other staffers were members. (Blogger Greg Sargent claims he wasn't a member after he joined the Post.) In addition, at least one member of Slate and two from Newsweek, also owned by Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, were members.

The almost constant revelations of political activism and journalistic conspiracy raise an enormous number of questions about Post policies, professionalism and ethics. As a conservative, and therefore a member of the movement JournoListers sought to demonize, I feel Post readers are owed full disclosure.

Any understanding of the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics makes clear this list and the Post's involvement violate a number of ethical guidelines. In fact, much of the code seems to have been ignored. Here are just a few examples from the code.

Journalists should:

By Brent Bozell | July 27, 2010 | 10:17 PM EDT

Tucker Carlson's website The Daily Caller has unearthed a treasure trove of liberal journalists talking (nastily) to themselves in a private e-mail list about how they should use their media power to remake the world in their image.

The funniest thing about this expose of “JournoList” was witnessing journalists say it was unfair to leak these e-mails when reporters had an “expectation of privacy.” More than 90,000 pages of secret documents on Afghanistan have been leaked and journalists are tripping over each other in a mad stampede to cover the story. Everyone should laugh heartily at leak-devouring journalists getting a fistful of their own bitter pills.

The saddest thing about all this is the confirmation (as if it were necessary) that liberal journalists really aren't journalists first. They're political strategists. They pretend to be the Hollywood version of Woodward and Bernstein, the brave sleuths digging out government malfeasance and corruption. But in reality they're the Woodward and Bernstein who plotted how to get Richard Nixon impeached and ready the way for pacifist and socialist “Watergate babies” like Chris Dodd and Henry Waxman to take seats of power. Ethics are only relevant if they’re a weapon.

By Lachlan Markay | July 27, 2010 | 6:08 PM EDT

Barely a month after Dave Weigel resigned from the Washington Post, he has been hired by…the Washington Post.

Well, to be more specific, by Post subsidiary Slate Magazine. Michael Calderone tweeted the news this evening, and Weigel confirmed shortly thereafter.

Weigel's resignation came after it was revealed he had made derogatory and highly offensive comments towards prominent conservatives on the liberal media listserv JournoList. Those included suggesting that Matt Drudge should set himself on fire, wishing death on Rush Limbaugh (incidentally, he wasn't the only JournoLister to do so), and dubbing Newt Gingrich an "amoral blowhard."

It wasn't the first time Weigel got in trouble for offensive comments. It wasn't the first time he took heat over comments made about Matt Drudge. He also called gay marriage opponents bigots, sparking outrage from some on the right.

Since Weigel had been hired to cover the political right, most conservatives believed he would be a counterweight to Ezra Klein, who covers the liberal beat on his own WaPo blog. Weigel's comments confirmed (though anyone who had read his work already suspected) that he would not bring that hoped-for balance.

By Tom Blumer | July 24, 2010 | 1:23 AM EDT
journolistNewsBusters posts Friday afternoon provided readers with a list of 65 known participants in the now-infamous Journolist (via Melissa Clouthier) and the special case of Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's Economic Adviser (via Lachian Markey).

(Aside: Does the fact that Biden has his own econ adviser explain why what the Vice President says in public about the economy is so often of sync with the rest of the President's peeps?)

Here's another very special name that could (emphasis: could) be added to the (Journo)List: the soon-departing White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.

An Investors Business Daily editorial Friday identified the existence of Orszag's involvement as a given without providing any specifics:

By Melissa Clouthier | July 23, 2010 | 4:40 PM EDT

The smarty pants set, breezily dismiss the contents of JournoList, the group made up of hundreds of mainstream journalists, bloggers, activists and Democrat policy wonks. The reasoning goes this way: how is it shocking that a bunch of like-minded people want to get together and chat? I mean, that’s just human. They’re young and liberal and brash, who cares?

Except, in this case, these people are in positions of power in the mainstream media. Matt Lewis reports this:

Regardless, the record shows Scherer had very harsh words for Fox — a point that would be less relevant had Scherer not recently won a seat on the board of directors of the White House Correspondents Association.

Why does this matter? As you may recall, there is a battle taking place to determine which media outlet will get Helen Thomas’ front-row seat for White House briefings. Many believe that Fox News should get the seat.

By Lachlan Markay | July 23, 2010 | 1:00 PM EDT
The more details emerge about the liberal media listserv JournoList, the more it resembles the cabal of leftist message-coordination many conservatives feared. Though perhaps not the "vast left-wing media conspiracy" Fred Barnes proclaims, evidence points to concerted efforts to coordinate talking points, and now, to direct links between the Obama White House and JournoList members.

Ironically, those are two elements of the listserv of which creator Ezra Klein explicity claimed JournoList was completely devoid. "Is it an ornate temple where liberals get together to work out "talking points?" Of course not," Klein stated last year. He added, "There are no government or campaign employees on the list."

Both of those assertions are provably false (whether or not they were at the time). The former has been contradicted by a number of instances of JournoList members doing just that: coordinating talking points. The second claim is upended by recent revelations that Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's chief economic adviser, and unpaid "surrogate" adviser to the Obama campaign, was a member of JournoList while advising then-candidate Obama on economic issues.
By Matt Robare | July 22, 2010 | 8:30 PM EDT
Time magazine's Michael Scherer, who has been revealed by the Daily Caller as expressing a deep dislike of Fox News, has the power to really annoy them.

"Ailes understands," Scherer said in an email on the much-maligned JournoList, "that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization. You can't hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong . . ." Though Scherer clearly has a bone to pick with the channel, he and Time have vehemently denied claims that he would silence Fox News.

Ironically, according to Politics Daily's Matt Lewis, Scherer "may actually be in a position to hurt Fox" by denying the cable network the front-row seat in the White House briefing room left vacant by Helen Thomas. Scherer sits on the Board of Directors of the White House Correspondents' Association, which controls access to White House press conferences.

By Lachlan Markay | July 22, 2010 | 5:22 PM EDT
Tucker Carlson posted a piece on his website, the Daily Caller, Thursday evening in what he claims is an attempt to refute two key criticisms of the website's recent exposes involving the lefty reporter listserv JournoList.

The first, that the reporters are opinion commentators and not "straight news" journalists Carlson says is irrelevant. "What we object to is partisanship," Carlson stated, "which is by its nature dishonest, a species of intellectual corruption… Those who engage in it are not journalists. They should stop pretending to be."

The second line of attack taken on in the post is the notion, "familiar to anyone who has ever published a piece whose subject didn’t like the finished product," that excerpts of JournoList emails published at the Daily Caller were taken out of context. Carlson challenged the accusers to publish the full emails and refute his charges.
By Ken Shepherd | July 22, 2010 | 4:13 PM EDT

My colleagues Brad Wilmouth and Lachlan Markay have catalogued how Fox News hosts played no role in the forced resignation of former USDA bureaucrat Shirley Sherrod over perceived racist remarks.

But why let the truth get in the way of a good screed? Just ask Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, who published a postmortem yesterday to the magazine's The Gaggle blog on "[h]ow the administration mishandled a manufactured scandal":

How could the White House have screwed up so badly in the case of Shirley Sherrod, the Georgia USDA official who Wednesday received an apology from the Obama administration (through Robert Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack)?

Sherrod was the victim of a smear by the right-wing agent provocateur Andrew Breitbart and his fellow travelers at Fox News. (Yes, that side has adopted some Leninist tactics, as conservative antitax activist Grover Norquist has admitted over the years.) They took a two-and-a-half-minute clip from Sherrod's address to the NAACP and used it to depict her as a black racist who discriminated years ago against a white farmer. It turns out the farmer thought Sherrod had been a terrific help, and a full review of Sherrod's speech suggests that, far from being a racist, she had honestly (and successfully) worked through the complex racial preconceptions we all carry around in our heads.

Later in his post, Alter added more spin and half-truths by noting that:

By Brent Bozell | July 22, 2010 | 12:18 PM EDT

Managing Editor's Note:  NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell today reprimanded members of the press in light of the recently exposed e-mails from the now-defunct JournoList that show a blatant, deliberate campaign to smear conservatives. That statement is published below. Click here for more background on JournoList.

The revelation of these e-mails simply proves that we have been right all along.  The liberal media have no interest in being fair or unbiased.  In fact, they are deliberately violating any sense of journalistic ethics.

There is no excuse – none- for the attitudes and lack of professionalism these so-called journalists displayed not only in these e-mails but in their reporting.  Any member of the media that was privy to these Journolist emails, and remained silent, is just as much to blame as the folks that crafted these e-mails. Their silence indicts them. 

We said in 2008 that the media were making excuses for Jeremiah Wright and now we have the proof. Just today we learned from the Daily Caller that these people went so far as to say that Rush Limbaugh ‘deserves’ their hate.  Sadly, I am not surprised, as this is what we have been exposing year after year about the media.  And it’s exactly why Americans refuse to trust them.