This seems to me like an occasion when the non-official campaign has a big role to play in defining Palin, shaping the terms of the conversation and saying things that the official [Obama] campaign shouldn’t say – very hard-hitting stuff, including some of the things that people have been noting here – scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing christia [sic] wing-nut a heartbeat away …… bang away at McCain’s age making this unusually significant …. I think people should be replicating some of the not-so-pleasant viral email campaigns that were used against [Obama].
Jared Bernstein was privy to this message and to the entire back and forth concerning how best to collectively address Palin's nomination.
And sure enough, we see remarkably similar talking points show up in a Huffington Post piece written by Bernstein in October 2008: Palin as "a newcomer on the national scene with scant governing experience, little knowledge of the major issues, and few deeply held views … [and] unfettered, thin, talking points." You know, unlike Obama, with his swathes of executive experience (less than Palin) and concrete, substantive policy positions (Hope and Change).
In fact, message-coordination went far further than just discussing how best to frame an issue. For instance, Time columnist Joe Klein told his colleagues in one email that he had worked their suggestions into his latest column. As Ed Morrissey notes, Klein "represented those opinions as his own — and one has to wonder how many other talking points from JournoList Klein passed off as his own over the years at Time."
In other words, the answer to Ezra Klein's question - "Is [JournoList] an ornate temple where liberals get together to work out 'talking points'?" - is the not the resounding "of course not" he offered last year.
But the real issue is not whether Klein was being honest with his readers when he made the above assertions. More important is the fact that the accusations about JournoList Klein was trying to fend off were not at all off-base. The listserv has acted as a forum to coordinate talking points, and included at least one member of a presidential campaign, who later, as a top White House adviser, invited the upper crust of liberal bloggers to the White House for an exclusive meeting.
Klein was obliged to defend JournoList against these accusations, but the more we find out, the more we realize just how accurate those accusations were.
Presumably, Klein wants to clear up the situation and remove the ethical cloud from above him. To that end, here are some questions that should be answered:
Was Klein aware that at least one member of JournoList was advising the Obama administration?
How on earth did Klein expect to enforce rules against the presence of campaign officials on the list? How did he account for the possibility that individuals could slide into one of the two forbidden groups - government and campaign workers - without his knowledge?
If Klein were aware that a government or campaign official had somehow made it onto the listserv, would he have banned that individual? Did that ever happen?