Wednesday, March 18, 2009
[Updated ] Spencer Ackerman, who seems to be a member of the distinguished JournoList group, responds to my item of yesterday:
If Mickey Kaus actually believes what he writes here , he'll publish every journalism-related email, letter, fax or notebook scribble he's ever shared with another reporter to trade ideas. If he doesn't do that, this pathetic has-been should shut the fuck up and find a way to get over his unbecoming obsession with Ezra Klein. [E.A.]
I'm beginning to worry that they're really not going to invite me. ... P.S.: C.A.P.'s Matthew Yglesias agrees with Ackerman . I t seems like a silly argument. Aren't there lots of activities that are highly desirable when practiced by individuals on a small or dispersed, uncoordinated basis, but become problematic when practiced on a large scale by competing groups? It's nice to eat dinner with a friend at Princeton. But when large, exclusive eating clubs form and come to provide the "only decent, attractive, and convivial accomodations available to a Princeton undergraduate," there's a problem . Similarly, private backyards are a good thing. But if the private backyards and common areas of rich people in gated communities come to use up the bulk of attractive potentially public parkland, there's a legitimate social issue.
Everybody has private notes, sources, or conversations. That doesn't mean a secret conversation among "hundreds" of influential Democratic writers doesn't potentially create problems. Groupthink might be one of them. ... Hey, and another might be the fostering of an us-vs-them mentality! Maybe even a weakness for smug rationalization. ... Another might be that writers on JournoList begin to devote their energies more inward --toward convincing or impressing or at least not angering their fellow club members-- than outward , toward convincing their fellow citizens. ... Or if it simply becomes true that all the best arguments are made on private list-servs. Yglesias and Ackerman certainly aren't making them in public.
Update: Reihan Salam says don't worry about JournoList enforcing "message discipline":
After talking to a number of friends, and after observing its workings from a distance, I've concluded that the JList has virtually no disciplining functon. It is a forum for robust debate, not a tool for forming a tightly-knit Leninist cadre.
He's probably mostly right, but remember: 1) It's the robustness of what comes out of JournoList we're talking about, not what goes on inside. 2) There sure was a whole lot of discipline on the left in the Edwards adultery scandal, at least until Lee Stranahan came along (and he was then banned from Daily Kos ). I doubt you needed JournoList to get left activists defensive about Elizabeth Edwards, or to get Daily Kos to be thuggish, but it may have helped. The only way to know is to know what went on inside. 3) Reader A.A. adds an excellent point:
I thought that one of the netroots' complaints against the old MSM was rightly that elitist journalists in DC tended to self-police their content because they did not want to breach taboos within their social networks; this previous system, the argument goes, favored the status quo and turned a lot of national-level journalism into the recitation of talking points. One of the great things about the internet in this context was that it allowed for a wider spectrum of opinion to be discussed -- a change that helped to make it possible for national politics to shift to the left.
Wasn't it a few years ago that many of these left blogosphere types were ridiculing the Beltway Kool Kids who did things like criticize unions and defend Clintonism? I think it was ! Now they've created their own Kool Kids club.... Is Ezra Klein the new William F. Buckley or the new Tim Russert, helping establish the boundaries of what's respectably thinkable? 4) Regarding that last link, my comrade Glenn Greenwald thinks he's already spotted some backscratching that's been hidden from view:
Touching: on Journalist, Ezra attacked critics of Douthat. Now Ross says Ezra is the William Buckley of our era: http://tinyurl.com/d62o2b