How Will Tucker Carlson Explain the Journolist Scandal to His Fellow Conservative Journalists?

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July 23 2010 9:40 AM

How Will Tucker Carlson Explain the Journolist Scandal to His Fellow Conservative Journalists?

Yesterday, Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson published a note to readers to accompany his website's ongoing coverage of the Journolist listserv. To those who say the notion of liberal opinion journalists having liberal opinions is no big deal, Carlson offered a stern rebuttal:

We’re not contesting the right of anyone, journalist or not, to have political opinions. (I, for one, have made a pretty good living expressing mine.) What we object to is partisanship, which is by its nature dishonest, a species of intellectual corruption. Again and again, we discovered members of Journolist working to coordinate talking points on behalf of Democratic politicians, principally Barack Obama. That is not journalism, and those who engage in it are not journalists.

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This is about basic standards of journalistic behavior, and the participants in the listserv—at least the ones who were professional journalists, rather than the non-journalists who also got quoted in the Daily Caller—have disgraced themselves through their naked partisanship. Carlson concludes:

One final note: Editing this series has been something of a depressing experience for me. I’ve been in journalism my entire adult life, and have often defended it against fellow conservatives who claim the news business is fundamentally corrupt. It’s harder to make that defense now. It will be easier when honest (and, yes, liberal) journalists denounce what happened on Journolist as wrong.

Among the Daily Caller's revelations this week: when Sarah Palin was named the Republican nominee for vice-president, some people on Journolist began

to formulate the most effective talking points in order to defeat Palin and McCain and help elect Barack Obama president. The tone was more campaign headquarters than newsroom.

Tucker Carlson is shocked by such behavior. Tucker Carlson is a veteran, after all, of the Weekly Standard. How do the professionals at the Weekly Standard approach the political process , in their role as detached journalists?

On June 18, 2007, the first group disembarked in Juneau from the Holland America Line’s M.S. Oosterdam, and went to the governor’s mansion, a white wooden Colonial house with six two-story columns, for lunch. The contingent featured three of The Weekly Standard s top writers: William Kristol, the magazine’s Washington-based editor, who is also an Op-Ed columnist for the Times and a regular commentator on "Fox News Sunday"; Fred Barnes, the magazine’s executive editor and the co-host of "The Beltway Boys," a political talk show on Fox News; and Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for President Bush and a Washington Post columnist.

[...]
 
By the time the Weekly Standard pundits returned to the cruise ship, Paulette Simpson said, "they were very enamored of her." In July, 2007, Barnes wrote the first major national article spotlighting Palin, titled "The Most Popular Governor," for The Weekly Standard. Simpson said, "That first article was the result of having lunch." Bitney agreed: "I don’t think she realized the significance until after it was all over. It got the ball rolling."

The other journalists who met Palin offered similarly effusive praise: Michael Gerson called her "a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc." The most ardent promoter, however, was Kristol, and his enthusiasm became the talk of Alaska’s political circles. According to Simpson, Senator Stevens told her that "Kristol was really pushing Palin" in Washington before McCain picked her. Indeed, as early as June 29th, two months before McCain chose her, Kristol predicted on "Fox News Sunday" that "McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket." He described her as "fantastic," saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a "mother of five" and a reformer. "Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin," he said.

Real journalists don't have bull sessions on e-mail to coordinate possible election strategies after a vice presidential candidate is announced. Real journalists, the kind of journalists Tucker Carlson works with, journalists who have intellectual integrity—those journalists get together in person, interview and vet their party's candidates in advance, and lobby to get them nominated. For shame, Journolist!

 

 

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.