Journolist and Jabberwocky

Sometime in the spring of 2009, a right-wing blogger revealed that I belonged to something called Journolist, which was either a sinister cabal disguised as an email discussion group or vice versa. It was very exciting to me to learn this. Until that point I had never even heard of Journolist. That's how secret it was. You could belong to it without even knowing you were a member. I admired the efficiency this necessarily requires.

Anyway, a couple of months later, the head cabal-ist actually did ask me to join the listserv, which consisted mainly of liberal journalists, academics, and policy wonks. Strictly speaking I am none of these things, but some of my best friends are, and they were on the list, so it was a good way to keep up with what they were talking about.

An awful lot of this was gossip about the internal politics of various publications. Also, sports. I kept thinking, "Aren't we supposed to be getting our marching orders from Pyonyang? And when do we sacrifice the unbaptized infants to Lord Cthulu?" but these things never actually came up. I was disappointed. But if I'd ever had a question about changes in the Alabama tax code between 1946 and 1973, or the nature of Marty Peretz's sex life, then Journolist would have been the place to ask.  

About a month ago, Journolist shut down. It still has a kind of posthumous influence, though. Obsessing over it is good for the careers of Republican political flacks (openly involved in running the "Tea Party" subsidiary or otherwise) who have made a profession of dishonesty; and it surely exercises a hold on the minds of their dupes, who are people with more fervid imagination than critical intelligence.

Now, I don't write for those folks, but really can't help it if they insist on inserting me into a conspiratorial narrative that is much more interesting than real life.

Looking over the comments section of a blog hosted by one of my former employers, I was surprised to come across the following:

Journolist member, Scott McLemee--Inside Higher Ed.

"For some time now, I have been collecting notes on the interaction between academics and journalists. In theory, at least, this relationship ought to be mutually beneficial -- almost symbiotic."
--Scott McLemee
Aha! That proves...something.

Well, sure, and I'd stick by the formulation. I mean, for that matter free-market capitalism is a good idea in theory. In the real world,. of course, it just doesn't work.  Repeating my argument from five years ago isn't of much interest now, and in any case would be a total waste of time. Just glancing at Twitter shows how utterly the discussion is dominated by emotion and fantasy of precisely the sort I recall hearing on AM radio call-in shows in Texas, three decades ago..

Even then, while still in my teens, I thought of it as childish. A friend suggests that yes, there is actually is conspiracy, and it is to keep a sizable part of the population in a state of arrested development. There may be something to this theory. Evidence is available.

Meanwhile, some vigilant right-winger has exposed my endorsement of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy. This is true. I am in favor of peace and democracy. There, I said it.
July 27, 2010 9:45 AM | | Comments (8)

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8 Comments

It is sad and disturbing to me that the journolistas caved. Really, why? Most people had heard of the listserv who wanted to hear of it. There was nothing revelatory about the publication of old opinions.
But instead of sahying "piss off", for some reason the listservers agreed to disband.

This is why I like rightwing orgs. I can't imagine them disbanding under similar circs. Or elite secret societies. Did skull and bones cut its throat for shame over George Bush? Of course not. Do you think one member of the energy monsters who 'consulted' with Cheney in 2001 would be ruffled if their doings or sayings were revealed? Do you think they would be fired, or resign? Do you think they'd stop meeting? No way.
Start your listserv back up, man. Tell Klein not to be a putz.

I don't really understand why it shut down so quickly. I was never that actively involved and wasn't paying very much attention when it happened. Another list has started, but I've decided not to join it.

Your points are correct, of course. The basic distinction between the professional right-wing operatives (who know very well that Journolist was a rather amateur version of stuff they do very, very well themselves) and the sheep (who bleat with indignation when the signal is given, unable to formulate a rational thought about the urgency of their bleating) corresponds to the difference between cynicism and raw resentment. Either way, they get to work themselves into a state over Journolist without being even slightly honest about their own echo chamber.

Of course they don't fool anyone but themselves. But fooling themselves is what they are really good at doing.

Sorry, but some of us have a perfect right to be outraged over the existence of Journolist.

No one invited me to join, and I'm just going to be all pouty about it until somebody damn well apologizes.

I think the feeling was that it would compromise the secret cabal-icity to have a member whose face is on a billboard in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex.

That's one thing about being in DC -- you don't have many occasions to refer to "the Metroplex."

Ah, of course you're right. Damn that incredibly handsome billboard.

Not being admitted to the very nerve center of the Lamestream Media Monster: Such are the sacrifices one must make for Metroplex-wide fame.

Somebody has revealed that my reference to how often Journolist involved gossip and sportschat was part of a coordinated effort to cover our tracks, since other people from the list have been saying the same thing.

Sure thing, bub. It's all one big conspiracy. Actually no such coordination was necessary, and I'm not in the loop for it, in any case. But believe what you want, or what you must.

In fact, all those threads about basketball and the World Cup were themselves part of the grand plot, since that way we would have an alibi. The stuff about Marty Peretz's sex life was a more prurient version of the same very clever maneuver.

Sometimes it seems like the internet is Miracle Grow for stupidity.

I came here from a blog that said the Campaign for Peace and Democracy is pro-North Korean, which as far as I can tell is either a joke or hopelessly stupid. Which is it?

Beats me. The internet is full of insane nattering and you can't spend too much time on it, or else that is all you will ever do.

The Campaign has always been resolutely anti-Stalinist and nobody will ever find a single pro-North Korean sentiment in any of its statements or actions. It is absurd to say otherwise.

But then this is a medium in which nobody has to know a thing, or take even the slightest responsibility for accuracy, before going in front of the public. Chances are it is a microscopic public, of course -- but still, it's contemptible when it happens.

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