Today’s Daily Caller includes an article by Jedediah Bila, “Journolist’s anti-Palin crusade of 2008.” It notes:
Harold Pollack wrote this on August 30, 2008:
“Of course, she is nowhere near ready to stand a heartbeat away from the presidency.” He later added, “Senator McCain is 72 years old” and “The typical man of Senator McCain’s age faces a one in seven chance of dying before finishing his term, and a 30 percent chance of not finishing out a second one.”
A tough election should not blind us to our common humanity. Anyone who walks the walk in the service of her personal beliefs deserves my friendship. So congratulations, Governor. You don’t come close to earning my vote, but you are welcome in my home, any time.
I–like many other liberals, including then-candidate Obama–denounced crazy rumors flying about Governor Palin’s family life:
We can’t let a tough campaign mess up our heads. Factually, politically, and morally, it never made much sense to chase rumors that Governor Palin was covering for her teen daughter’s pregnancy.
Bila seems to believe that I and other “Journolisters” orchestrated the liberal response to the Palin pick. Writing, “Hey, I wonder if any outside journalists happened to cover similar themes to those outlined by the Journolisters?” Bila goes on to quote various commentators who noted McCain’s advanced age alongside Palin’s decidedly less-advanced grasp of public policy. (Others in the conservative blogosphere have picked this up with even greater blunderbussness, with stories titled “Journolist Archives prove Media coordinated assault on Sarah Palin to secure Obama election.”)
My mom believes that President Obama couldn’t have won without my efforts. Even she doesn’t believe Democrats needed help or coordination here. If there was ever a story that wrote itself, this was it. When I wrote “Let’s be real…Senator McCain is 72 years old,” I only expressed the obvious public response to McCain’s reckless VP pick.
There’s more a whiff of McCarthyism in the frenzy over Journolist. As if they were sent from central casting, right-wing bloggers have compiled a list of Journolist “known members.” The above link is from the charmingly titled site thetreeofliberty.com. These listings include comically elaborate weblinks at the bottom to document our participation. Most of us were open Obama supporters during the campaign in academia or opinion journalism.
I am now identified as “journolister” #46. (Since I played such a central role bringing down Sarah Palin, why was my ranking so low?) I’ve already happily noted my participation in journalist. Still, what’s followed is creepy.
Conservative congressional candidate Chris Angelini, a.k.a. @ConserValidity, tweets: BEWARE: Unethical Leftist [expletive deleted] @haroldpollack was also a Journolist member posing as an Objective reporter. Since I am not a reporter and spent thirty months writing blog posts and columns supporting the Obama campaign and health reform, I hope Angelini is not selling his wares in opposition research. @cannoneerno4 believes we are Communists or something. He proves that irony is both dead and dismembered by calling us “enemies of the people.”
I am, it’s true, a nerdy professor. People who don’t like Journolist are prone to comment about stuff like that. The fact that many of us are both liberal and Jewish excites something old and deep in the far-right limbic system. If you google the terms “Journolist” and “Jews,” you will find much sickening stuff. The comment threads at many sites covering this controversy are filled with hateful comments about Jews, women, and gay people.
This stuff won’t harm established personages such as Joe Klein or Eric Alterman. It won’t harm those of us who are tenured professors. Had the Caller written a substantial and fair article about the statements and actions of public figures, I would have had to concede that this was fair game. We haven’t gotten that. Instead, the Caller has released a lot of misleading or selective quotations, and it has cherry-picked maladroit or inappropriate private comments of little news value.
Many of these comments come from fine young journalists struggling for a foothold in a tough profession. Some may be harmed professionally before this thing is over. More are receiving hate mail. For what purpose? In The Human Stain, Phillip Roth noted the dehumanization that accompanies manufactured scandal, suggesting that President Clinton should have hung a banner from the White House saying “A human being lives here.” The same applies here.