BREAKING: Liberal Commenters and Activists Talk to Liberal Activists

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 17 2011 3:59 PM

BREAKING: Liberal Commenters and Activists Talk to Liberal Activists

Dana Loesch writes up a document dump that's not yet getting much attention outside the conservative 'sphere. Somebody got access to the archives of september17@googlegroups, a listserv for organizational discussions about Occupy Wall Street. This person put the archive online. Loesch's take: "the Occupy Washington DC movement is working with well-known media members to craft its demands and messaging while these media members report on the movement."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Notice the term "media members"? Sort of all-encompassing, isn't it?

Journolist 2.0 includes well known names such as MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi who both are actively participating; involvement from other listers such as Bill Moyers and Glenn Greenwald plus well-known radicals like Noam Chomsky, remains unclear.
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Well. First off, we need a bias alert. I was a member of JournoList from January 2009 to July 2010, and I'm a contributer to MSNBC. So if any conservative takes my critique seriously, fair warning: You will be laughed out of the room. With that out of the way, how representative are Ratigan and Taibbi of "media members reporting on the movement"? They represent the activist side of the media, which gives populist advice on the goings-on as it reports them. Ratigan has lent his megaphone to a number of campaigns, most recently the "Get Money Out" effort to change the Constitution and restrict corporate speech in politics. In his own, chuckling response to the Loesch story, Taibbi reminds us that he wrote a list of suggested demands for #OWS, and it more or less mirrored the leaked e-mail obtained in this doc dump.

Why dilineate between activist journalists and non-activists? It's tough, I'll give you that. But it's necessary, because the people battered in this Loesch piece are actually a lot like... well, like Loesch. They participate in the media to give ideological takes on stories. Loesch, editor of Big Journalism, is also a Tea Party activist who speaks at events. This sort of cross-pollination was pivotal to the rise of the Tea Party.

If Taibbi and Ratigan support the thrust of #OWS, and give the activists space to talk, how's that different, materially, from chatting to them in a Google Group? One reason that my own JournoList e-mails were such a problem (read about 'em at Big Journalism!): I talked down conservatives that I covered in the presence of liberal reporters and academics, who were doing their own analysis and strategizing from the left. Very different than what's going on here.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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