Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Save America, make $100K

posted by Rod Dreher

Andrew Breitbart is offering a very healthy bounty for one of the 400 or so members of the now-defunct Journolist:

We want the list of journalists that comprised the 400 members of the “JournoList” and we want the contents of the listserv. Why should Weigel be the only person exposed and humiliated?
I therefore offer the sum of $100,000 to the person who provides the full “JournoList” archive. We will protect that person’s privacy and identity forever. No one will ever know who became $100,000 richer – and did the right thing, morally and ethically — by shining the light of truth on this seamy underworld of the media.
$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save.

Presumably only Ezra Klein, and maybe a handful of old-timers on that list, have copies of the entire archive. Still, Breitbart could probably get at least $50,000 worth of juicy stuff if he found only one member of that list who kept a number of e-mails, depending on when he or she joined, and who is willing to sell out others on the list. In a time in which journalists are losing jobs left and right, and having bills to pay, is it really unthinkable that somebody on that list would be willing to make that deal — as opposed to, say, losing his house to the bank? If I had been a member of that very large list, I would be mighty worried right about now.
Anyway, this Breitbart move is a perfect example of what I talked about here: the willingness to let devotion to the Cause trump any concerns of civil behavior and discourse. What does it matter that you’re offering money to convince people to sell out their friends and colleagues when THE FATE OF OUR NATION hangs in the balance? What does it matter that you infilitrate a confidential self-help group and reveal things you learned there for the sake of ruining a closeted Lutheran pastor when THE LIVES OF GAY PEOPLE are at stake?
You see how this goes. People don’t matter; only power does. This principle is essentially evil. It is the morality of terrorists.



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Lasorda

posted June 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm


I think you overestimate the average person’s interest or concern about the ethics of journalism. I actually chuckled as I wrote the phrase “ethics of journalism.” I just can’t take all of the rending of garments seriously. The morality of terrorists?? Dude, take a deep breath. We’re talking about about a bunch of pseudo-intellectual goof balls chatting about the stimulus . . . in a chat room. The morality of terrorists? LOL!!!



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Rod Dreher

posted June 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm


I stand by what I said (and I was referring to both Breitbart’s action and the gay journo’s action): the idea that the Cause — whatever the Cause — justifies violating codes of basic human decency so as to destroy (figuratively or literally) other human beings is the morality of terrorists. There are times when this has to be done, e.g., when criminals need to be stopped (and even then we have safeguards in the law), and when nations have to go to war. Do we really want to conceive of politics as permanent warfare?
Anyway, once the principle is established that the stakes are so high in a conflict that almost anything goes to prevail over the other side, we are setting ourselves up for a terrible situation. You say this is just a matter of “pseudo-intellectual goofballs chatting about the stimulus.” You might also have said that the gay journalist business was just a matter of “a closet-case vicar who mouthed off in public against gays.” Nothing to see here, move on. But don’t forget Broken Windows Theory — the idea from criminology that small things like broken windows that don’t get repaired send signals throughout the area that this is a lawless place. It grants implicit permission to others to do really bad things. I think something similar is at work here.



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Dan O.

posted June 30, 2010 at 12:48 pm


I’m liberal and I strongly dislike Breitbart. He’s not only unethical, but he breaks the law. He also assumes his conclusion, determining that whatever journalists say on that blog must effect how they carry out their professional duties. So, what he’s trying here is pointless – it won’t convince anyone not already convinced. Like what Lavender did, it is self-defeating. It indicates that group A is out to get group B and is willing to go on a fishing expedition, using deception, to get it. As if it needed proving that homophobic nuts are often self-loathing closeted homosexuals. As if it needs proving that journalists lean left compared to the general population.
If this is the morality of terrorists, wouldn’t it be in the public interest to enshrine confidentiality of *any sort*, whatever, legally? Let it cover 12-Step programs, listservs where members are sworn to confidentiality, instances when friends are sworn to silence, etc. Maybe we should let anyone hang a sign from their door like a shrink or a lawyer, allow them to treat patients, give advice, whatever, and they’ll be protected by confidentiality. And why not? We take extraordinary measures – wiretaps, undercover penetrations, deception, even entrapment – against terrorism. If terrorism is akin to violating confidentiality, whatever it is, maybe we ought to use extraordinary measures to protect them.
Eh. Maybe not.



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Richao

posted June 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm


Although initially ambivalent about this whole affair, I’ve come to believe that members of the journalism guild should be barred from commenting on the ethical quality of seeking access to or releasing these documents. The conflict of interest is huge, and the principle “nemo debet esse iudex in propria causa,” or no one should be judge in his own cause, clearly applies. (Just as Rod rightly criticizes scientists who bristle having their own ethical conclusions about their experiments questioned by non-scientists.)
Look, it’s clear that these journalists are trying to exempt themselves from their own rules. Of these 400 or so left-of-center journalists, how many of them would not have jumped at the opportunity if somebody had Judith Miller’s private emails that, say, showed that she was coordinating her reporting with the White House press office in the run up to the Iraq war? How many of them would not have jumped at publishing classified information obtained illegally if it confirmed that Bush wanted to invade Iraq for oil? How many of them would not have jumped at the opportunity to publish a story based on private communications, say, between Haggard and his masseuse?
The number no doubt approaches zero.
I fail to see why participants in a list of 400 – 400!!! – people should be entitled to any greater deference or privacy, particularly when those very participants would readily violate privacy of “the little people” if it meant getting a major scoop. I’m not saying that the person who releases the emails isn’t a slimeball (just as we might loathe the person who leaks classified information). But once released, it’s all fair game in my opinion.
The bellyaching journalists have been making about the decline of the industry and the importance of journalism to the Republic makes me even less sympathetic. If in fact journalism is essential to a healthy body politic, then any potential coordination of message among a large group of key members of the journalism guild is by definition a matter of public concern and by definition newsworthy.
This is simply the way the world is, largely because of the practices of the journalism guild. Yes, in many ways it sucks. But that it sucks does not justify granting the very group that was key in creating this world an exemption from it.
So, suck it up, and man up. And realize that we “little people” are largely happy to see this comeuppance.



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Dan O.

posted June 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm


Oops I meant if terrorist is akin to violating confidentiality, extraordinary measures might be used to protect confidentiality.



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Connie Connie in Wisconsin

posted June 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm


And why would someone who is willing to take this deal believe that Breitbart won’t, in turn, betray his/her identity in the future for enough money?



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Brett R.

posted June 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm


Exactly right, Connie Connie. Breitbart is a snake and cannot be trusted. That $100,000 would likely be the last paycheck that person ever receives as a journalist.



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Lasorda

posted June 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm


Richao:
Well said. Rod should recuse himself here. These journalists take themselves soooooo seriously.



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Peter

posted June 30, 2010 at 1:39 pm


“If in fact journalism is essential to a healthy body politic, then any potential coordination of message among a large group of key members of the journalism guild is by definition a matter of public concern and by definition newsworthy.”
Very good point, Richao. Rod is welcome to dislike Breitbart’s tactics, but he should at the same time call for the voluntary full disclosure of all relevant information regarding this journolist. Otherwise he should explain why we the public should not take an interest in this issue.



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TTT

posted June 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Breitbart is a loathsome sociopath who seems to take his greatest joys in life from breaking rules, lying, and ruining the careers and lives of anyone who might have ever tried to stop him from breaking rules and lying.
An America that needs to be saved by him would not be worth saving.



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Richao

posted June 30, 2010 at 1:43 pm


And on a lighter note. The original post concludes that Breitbart’s offer reflects the fact that “People don’t matter; only power does.”
Perhaps, generally, but who said anything about people? We’re talking about journalists.
I’m here all week, folks.
(Sorry – it’s not often that we lawyers have such a wide-open opportunity to return the favor of constant ridicule…)



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Scott Lahti

posted June 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm


First-class privates reporting for Blackbart, er, Breitbart booty, SIR!



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Houghton

posted June 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm


I think the terms “sociopath” and “terrorist” are being thrown around here a bit lightly. Let’s back away from the Red Bull or espresso or whatever it is we’re imbibing today that is causing fits of hyperbolic rhetoric.
In any case, it appears that Weigel was “outed,” if that’s the right term, by someone on JournoList who thought he wasn’t quite left-of-center enough.
Breitbart is just making a point about the way in which Weigel has been treated — No one is going to take him up on the $100,000 offer. This is an extension of his offer of $100 K for anyone who could offer definitive proof (and not hearsay) that Tea Party activists had hurled racial epithets at members of Congress. No one stepped forward to take that $100K either.



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Franklin Evans

posted June 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm


A journalist who doesn’t take his or her craft seriously is a journalist to whom I can offer no trust.
Look up the definition and function of an ombudsman. Compare that to the actions taken or assertions made by the gay journalist and Breitbart. Neither deserve trust.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 30, 2010 at 2:10 pm


People, read what I actually wrote. I’m not saying Breitbart and gay journo are terrorists; I’m saying that the principle that nothing matters more than defeating the enemies of the Cause is in principle the morality of a terrorist.
Secondly, neither you nor I have the right to read what the Journolist people wrote, any more than either of us have the right to read the private e-mail of each other. I’m not making this argument as a journalist; I’m making this argument as a citizen who respects the moral right to privacy (in addition to the legal one). The idea that I should “recuse” myself from commenting on this because I’m a journalist and this particular case involves journalists is absurd. I invite you to think about whether or not you support making these e-mails public because you really do believe there’s an overriding public good served by doing so, or because you simply really hate liberal journalists.



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Dan O.

posted June 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Mr. Dreher, I just think you’re wrong about the principle. It’s the morality of vengeance, not the morality of terrorism. It’s the idea that the status of being wronged allows one to trump certain other moral principles vis a vis those who did the initial wrong. That’s only terrorism if you take terrorists at their word (I don’t). Terrorists do not limit their victims by vengeance. They pick their victims to achieve maximum political or symbolic impact. It may share a motive with vengeance, but it is not the same. The border between them may be fuzzy in some cases, but it isn’t in these.
Vengeance is particular, random, hot, set to right perceived wrongs. Terrorism, while it might work on it’s lowliest operatives (e.g. suicide bombers) in terms of vengeance, works because it is cool, calculated, and general. They are not the same. Vengeance is unpredictable, terrorism is systematic. The feeling and desire for vengeance effects ALL of us. The same is not true for terrorism. It’s a different kind of hate. And the comparison is hyperbolic.



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thehova

posted June 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm


hmmmm….was Dreher on Jurnolist?
Ultimately, I’m all for transparency. Dreher’s argument seems to be that I can’t handle transparency. That sounds paternalistic to me. Matthew Yglesias, who was on jurnolist, said that the discussion was mundane. What’s the big deal about releasing it.
I’m not sure if it was linked on here, but Weigel did respond to the matter on Breitbart’s site, Big Government. Unlike most of the whiny blog responses to the affair, he takes responsibility:
http://biggovernment.com/dweigel/2010/06/28/hubris-and-humility-david-weigel-comes-clean-on-washington-post-the-d-c-bubble-the-journolist/



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Lasorda

posted June 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm


I support making these emails public because I think it would might serve the public good to see what they were up to on that list. Were they colluding to direct traffic away from their ideological enemies? Reading Weigel’s emails re: Byron York causes me to believe that might have happened. What do journalists talk about among themselves? What are their motivations? Is there a difference between what they say is important in public and in private? Do they really believe what they write?
Yes. I am quite sure that the answers to those questions serve the public good. I don’t have the morality of a terrorist, in principle or otherwise. I just don’t think it is unethical to disclose the semi-private (how private is an email that you send to 400 people who sell information for a living?)emails of a group of public figures who have a significant influence on the formation of public policy.



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Richao

posted June 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm


Who said anything about hating liberal journalists. :-)
In any event, Rod, I think to be persuasive you need to address two key questions those of us who are not members of the guild find mystifying:
1. How is an email to 400 people private?
2. Why should the members of a profession that thrives on the violation of expectations and norms of privacy be entitled to any greater protection than they routinely (fail to) extend to non-members of that guild?



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Richao

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:15 pm


See, this is exactly the boneheaded cluelessness of the guild that I’m talking about: Sullivan is on his high horse talking about how Breitbart’s attitude reflects “Politics as Total War” (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/06/politics-as-total-war.html), which is essentially the same argument that Rod is making. And yet, when Sarah Palin’s private email was hacked by a college student early in the 2008 campaign (clearly illegally, as the hacker was ultimately sentenced to jail time I believe), the same Andrew Sullivan happily trotted out private emails that had nothing to do with her tenure as governor or her qualifications as VP (http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/02/todd-palin-and-trig-palins-birth-certificate-emails-released.html).
Politics as Total War, indeed. As an experienced practitioner of said art, he should certainly know. But the lack of self-awareness is stunning. It’s certainly evidence that the drive to shield members of the guild from the conduct they dish out on everybody else is near instinctive.
Much to Rod’s credit, he has not, to my knowledge, engaged in this type of hypocrisy on this issue. But my bet is that most of the 400 took great pleasure – though perhaps not as great as Sullivan did – in the release of SP’s private emails. Why should I suffer any lost sleep over worrying about their being on the receiving end of the same treatment?



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Rod Dreher

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:19 pm


Ultimately, I’m all for transparency. Dreher’s argument seems to be that I can’t handle transparency. That sounds paternalistic to me. Matthew Yglesias, who was on jurnolist, said that the discussion was mundane. What’s the big deal about releasing it.
No, Dreher’s argument is that you don’t have a right to e-mails that were sent within a confidential group whose members have the expectation of privacy. The (moral) right to privacy in this case does not depend on whether or not the discussion on that list — to which I wasn’t a part — was interesting or not.
Why should the members of a profession that thrives on the violation of expectations and norms of privacy be entitled to any greater protection than they routinely (fail to) extend to non-members of that guild?
You don’t know what you’re talking about. Every single day working journalists extend privacy to people whose dirty secrets they learn about in the course of doing their job. It’s called discernment. It’s called professionalism. It’s called being a grown-up. People have to be able to trust journalists with sensitive information. Sometimes journalists err too much on the side of protecting private information; sometimes they disclose what they shouldn’t disclose. The idea that journalism “thrives” on violating norms of privacy is an ideological judgment uninformed by facts or understanding.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm


I do agree with you, though, that when it comes to criticizing “total war” politics, Andrew is on shaky ground because of some of his Palin blogging.



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Richao

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm


Rod – sorry. Let me rephrase. What I meant is that journalists are generally happy to leverage information obtained in such a way that laypeople would regard as questionable if it means getting a story. True, you’ll seldom find journalists nosing about CIA headquarters to see if they can pilfer documents themselves, and I assume that most of them will never themselves hack into somebody else’s email account. And they’ll gladly extend confidentiality to sources (though, as Kinsley points out in a recent issue of The Atlantic, this is not a selfless act by any means).
But if the stories I read in the paper are any indication, many (most?) journalists would have no compunction about using any of the above if they permitted a scoop that the journalist himself or herself determined (again, sitting as judge in one’s own case) to be of sufficient public importance.
First the DC Fishbowl and now Breitbart have decided that, in their view, this archive is of public importance and would make a decent scoop. How is that qualitatively different from the decisions journalists themselves make regularly?
The only reason that I can see for distinguishing the two is that you and others feel that those decisions are to be left to members in good standing of the guild. And that they are inherently questionable when they involve exposing those members. Many of us beg to differ.



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Jillian

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm


Writers are always selling somebody out. –Joan Didion
…is the prècis of why I walked out of the writing program in college and went into science. The general inverse relationship between number of publications and personal integrity and wisdom in the business was too glaring and painful.



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RSG

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm


Richao and Lasorda, let me echo Rod here. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Not a clue. I say this as someone with more than a decade in the business. Trust me, if I am exploitative or misleading, inaccurate or unfair, I lose my one asset and that is my reputation as a professional.
I highly suggest you branch out from your use of CSI: Miami or other wildly ridiculous dramas on the teeveee for your ideas of how the world of journalism works.
Breitbart is a snake. He is not a journalist. Journalists, however, are actual real people with real ideas and personalities and interests. While our opinions should not inform our coverage, they can inform how we live our lives as people beyond our byline and whom we choose to affiliate with as human beings.
Get a clue.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm


This really isn’t as “nuanced” as some might wish it.
If you join a group one of whose conditions is that you agree to keep its avowedly private deliberations precisely that, and you break that agreement, you are in the wrong.
The adduced fact that you happen to belong to one among the world’s most despised professions qualifies as The World’s Reddest of Red Herrings.
End of thread.



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Chuck Bloom

posted June 30, 2010 at 3:59 pm


Andrew Breitbart is a loathesome toad. People who see him as some sort of folk hero are simply blind or ignorant or a combination with other factors in play.
While bagging on the media is fun for some, those of us in the business (legitimate end of the business) or used to be, take what we do/did seriously and do not appreciate the unkind, cynical words from people who have no clue as to the amount of hard work required to inform the masses. It does’t happen by magic and we do it for pittance compared to most other jobs.
Journalism isn’t done to get rich (except for the likes of Rupert Murdoch); it’s almost a calling of sorts. Unfortunately, slime like Breitbart, who’d sell out his mother if she got him an ounce of publicity, have polluted the waters worse than what BP has done in the Gulf. Both are worthless to sociert.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm


While bagging on the media is fun for some, those of us in the business (legitimate end of the business) or used to be, take what we do/did seriously and do not appreciate the unkind, cynical words from people who have no clue as to the amount of hard work required to inform the masses.
Substitute “booksellers” for “the media” above, and you will understand how those in my profession as well, as I recently discussed, have found themselves under baseless assault over the years by leading members of a right-wing slime machine whose pandering to its fans in the name of a sense of victimhood that admits of no limits will only end on the day when such figures look hard in the mirror, the better to see that they are always and everywhere the authors of their own troubles. They all of them have my permission to go thou and intercourse themselves.



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kevin s.

posted June 30, 2010 at 4:51 pm


“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Every single day working journalists extend privacy to people whose dirty secrets they learn about in the course of doing their job. It’s called discernment. It’s called professionalism. It’s called being a grown-up.”
But there are many instances of journalists not behaving as grown-ups. I once had a client who wrote a book about being outed as an anonymous source by the daily papers here. It ruined HIS career.
The Washington Post ran more than 100 stories about George Allen’s “Macaca” incident, in a transparent attempt to destroy the man. Having done media relations for conservative and liberal causes, I can tell you that the likely of being “outed” as a flack (not to mention getting sworn at) greatly increases when you are pursuing the former.
Journalists keep mum when it suits their interests and ideological proclivities. There are valid arguments for opposing Breitbart’s shenanigans, but the argument the journos behave as adults isn’t one of them.



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Richao

posted June 30, 2010 at 4:51 pm


Unfortunately, I really don’t watch must teevee… Any really.
But, again, it’s impressive to see the guild circle the wagons. “Trust me,” RSG says. As if we would or should trust any government official who said the same. Or, as Rod has demonstrated repeatedly, any scientist who said as much in an argument over the ethics of some technique. (I see this in my own profession as well; beware when any guild – even one that prides itself as being a steward of the public trust – urges trust.)
Also, I said nothing about being exploitative or misleading. All I’m saying is that there is an active trade in confidential information. Sure, most of the time, it’s not something the journalist himself has obtained improperly. But that’s not what I’m saying.



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RSG

posted June 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm


Richao, if you note the previous post, I addressed it to both you and Lasorda, who spoke of the “morals” of journalists, implying of course dishonesty as a character trait.
Good for you, not watching much television. But I stand by my assertion that your views of my profession are wildly inaccurate.
I do, though, want to thank you for being so predictable as to responding to the “trust me.”
Sigh.



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RSG

posted June 30, 2010 at 5:24 pm


Kevin S.–his “macaca” moment was made during the course of a campaign for higher office, and on the record at a speech. What were they supposed to do?



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thehova

posted June 30, 2010 at 5:28 pm


I love the responses from those involved with the media on this thread. Basically it’s, “You don’t know what your talking about. Your all wrong. We work really hard for little money. Trust us.”
The conservative movement has done an impressive job of delegitimizing the mainstream media in the past 20 years. Americans now are more skeptical of the media an attuned to its biases. The mainstream media is no longer received as the voice of God. And that’s a really good thing.



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The Man From K Street

posted June 30, 2010 at 5:37 pm


But, again, it’s impressive to see the guild circle the wagons.
Quite.
“Trust me,” RSG says. As if we would or should trust any government official who said the same. Or, as Rod has demonstrated repeatedly, any scientist who said as much in an argument over the ethics of some technique.
Or, perhaps, a Catholic bishop. “Oh, but we journalists are different. Trust is our stock in trade. Trust us, we know this business better than you.”



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Lasorda

posted June 30, 2010 at 6:05 pm


RSG: I think you need to actually read my post. What expertise am I claiming? I’m simply saying that I want to see the emails. I don’t think they’re private. Of which “morals” do you speak? And what’s this about CSI: Miami? I’m so confused. Obviously I touched a nerve. I repeat, you journalists are so touchy!



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Scott Lahti

posted June 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm


The conservative movement has done an impressive job of delegitimizing the mainstream media in the past 20 years.
Apparently, some among us have yet to fully dip their toes into the sort of utterly horrid dreck pumped into the nation’s journalistic rivers these last fifteen years by, e.g., National Review (Nordlinger, Levin, K-Lo, Goldberg [J.], &c.), the Fox News Channel (O’Reilly, Hannity, Gibson, Malkin, Ingraham, Morris, Gingrich, Coulter, Goldberg [B.], and, G-d help us, Doocy and Kilmeade on Foxin’ Friends, the two-year school for those denied admittance to the cerebral rigors of Good Morning America U.), and The War Street Journal (the opinion pages, that is, where it is All Tax Cuts and Mideast Bombing All the Time, not the often stellar business reporting proper, a salutary counterweight to the party hacks out back), the EIB network, TownHall, The Weekly Standard, the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, PNAC…sampling such sludge, I’m often tempted to ask, like the late Harland Sanders over the thin gravy with which the conglomerate buying him out had replaced his own, How do you serve this god-damned slop – with a straw?
If the post-Reagan mass-market Right were the only alternative to the MSM, so-called, I’d be strapping on my kneepads in servicing seriatim the entire editorial staff of the NYT/WaPo/CBS/NBC/ABC/CNN/MSNBC, with MAD magazine for sloppy seventeenths, before giving pre-somnolent thanks to a just and merciful G-d for the blessing of living in a fundamentally liberal country in which the malign forces
enumerated above will never stretch beyond their saturation level of around ten percent of the population.



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Houghton

posted June 30, 2010 at 6:09 pm


Speaking of Andrew Sullivan, since someone brought up his over the top “Total War” reaction here, did anyone realize that Sullivan is still blogging about Trig Palin?
For some time now I’ve called Andrew Sullivan the “Walter Winchell of 21st Century journalism.”
Now I just think of him as sick, deeply disturbed and virulently misogynistic.
Captcha: “the ravaging.”
Apropos.



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celticdragonchick

posted June 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm


did anyone realize that Sullivan is still blogging about Trig Palin?
Probably because it is a cornerstone of his contention that Palin is a pathological liar. I happen to think he is dead on the money, although I also think the Trig issue has been flogged into the ground.



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Polichinello

posted June 30, 2010 at 7:03 pm


No, Dreher’s argument is that you don’t have a right to e-mails that were sent within a confidential group whose members have the expectation of privacy. The (moral) right to privacy in this case does not depend on whether or not the discussion on that list — to which I wasn’t a part — was interesting or not.
If the conversation includes conspiring to guide the newscycle–as the Byron York language indicated–then there is a valid public interest. Considering that many of the people in the group worked for the NYT, which happily leaked the details of a perfectly intelligence operation and threatened our national security, I just don’t have many tears for them. Indeed, I’m glad Breitbart is on their case. The mewling of the hacks on this thread only confirms that feeling. These douches have sown the wind, so let them reap their whirlwind.



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thehova

posted June 30, 2010 at 7:06 pm


So what’s nuttier. The birther movement or Sullivan’s Trig crusade?
To me it’s an easy choice. At least Obama’s birthplace is a bit relevant.



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Polichinello

posted June 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm


…do not appreciate the unkind, cynical words from people who have no clue as to the amount of hard work required to inform the masses.
LOL. Wow. The first time I’ve ever seen anyone use this sort of hackneyed and condescending leftyspeak unironically in decades. Quick, get thyself to a museum so we can preserve you in amber.



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Charles Cosimano

posted June 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm


The principal is neither good nor evil. It is how the game is played and morality has no place in it. People have never mattered when power was at stake.
And they never will. That is the one thing we can always be certain of.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm


One big problem with Breitbart’s sworn blood enemies is their having hamstrung themselves behind the lily-livered figleaf of “objectivity”, which limits to a great extent what they can say in public, so that a disconnect exists between what they think and say on the page and off, as does a deplorable tendency to fret endlessly in public about “journalistic ethics”. If I were in charge of that secret list, I’d have no trouble whatever drafting a very public reply to Breitbart, rolled in malleable gold and polished to a high sheen till it blind the cosmos:
“How do you sleep at night, you little prick? Yes, though our guild has as of today copper-plated its collective determination to die grinning blood at you rather than let our private archive, to which you have no god-damned right whatever, reach your slime-crusted eyes, rest assured it is in its essential and composite content a perfect mirror of our utter loathing for you, for everything you stand for, and for every last one of your fans. You may have the money, but we have the education and the soul and the decency, and not only that, even the most confirmed C student within our fold, havingbeen to school and being familiar with a dictionary, can write rings around your stable of mewling and fifth-rate party hacks, who, in a just country, would be cranking out mimeographed newsletters for assorted T-ball teams on state work-release programs from Ketchikan to Keokuk. In our long twilight struggle with you and your foul-smelling, scrofulous legions, the question is not so much if you will flush yourself down an express chute into history’s sewer to the sea, but whether you’ll do so in time for happy hour. So good night, you twisted psychotic little puke, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight: that grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room each October 31 is your own fat head, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, watch you don’t step in the flaming bag of Breitbart blazing at your feet.”



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Houghton

posted June 30, 2010 at 8:39 pm


Er, wow, Scott Lahti, that’s a serious anger management problem you’ve got there. Here’s hoping you’re not experiencing adrenal gland burnout and the attendant systemic and nervous system damage wrought by it.



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Peter

posted June 30, 2010 at 8:41 pm


Rod, I have dutifully searched my soul and determined that I do not hate liberal journalists. On top of that, I still think that the potential widespread collusion among the makers of the news is a matter of public interest. All your responses have elided this issue, and I am genuinely interested to know reasons why the Journolist should not concern the public.
As I see it, if the emails are all about attending each others’ kids’ birthday parties or how they all hate George Bush, that isn’t really news and the emails should stay private. But if the emails are about how because of a certain shared disposition they should play up one story and ignore another, or that everyone should use a clever phrase in a particular story to slant it a certain way, then I think that should be made public.



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Jon

posted June 30, 2010 at 8:57 pm


Breitbart should pause a moment and realize that more than one could play at his game. What if someone offers $$$ for the emails that go around the Heritage Foundation or the National Review? People (yes, all of us) will say things in private communiques we would never say publicly. Some of my step-mom’s comments about George W Bush could have gotten her whisked into oblivion by the secret service. Imagine if some intemperate conservative, after a bad day and a couple of shots, referred to Obama as “that stupid [n-word]”. Talk about a fire storm! As Mr Franklin observed, those with glass windows (that’s all of us) should leave the stones where they lie.



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RSG

posted June 30, 2010 at 8:58 pm


Lasorda, read above post in which I combined a response to both you and whatshisface b/c both seem equally clueless.
Re: “touchy”–no, not exactly, no more than any person who takes their profession seriously, who believes it is actually important for the good of a free society and does it in a way that she hopes brings honor and glory to God, no more than any such person would be when such profession is constantly and unfairly maligned by those who get their talking points from the likes of Breitbart’s flaming piles (thanks Lahti) and St. Sara of the Frozen North who leaves no cliche unused in her discussions of the “lame stream” media. I am not touchy b/c I am thin skinned. I am touchy because I find your complete and utter lack of respect, and insistence that you understand the morals or motivations of myself and many of colleagues patently offensive.
So yeah, guilty. No one’s circling the wagons, though I defend the rights of anyone to have private conversations, digital or otherwise with whomever and however many they so chose. But I will defend my profession because it is important and you can snicker into your sleeves and chuckle at how deluded you think I am, but I believe what I do is my calling, actually what God wants me to do. So take it up with Him and stick your opinions somewhere south of your waistband.



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RSG

posted June 30, 2010 at 9:04 pm


To be clear, my above comment was NOT directed to Lasorda solely but the general snark here toward those who chose to work as journalists.



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Scott Lahti

posted June 30, 2010 at 9:05 pm


Houghton: Er, wow, Scott Lahti, that’s a serious anger management problem you’ve got there. Here’s hoping you’re not experiencing adrenal gland burnout and the attendant systemic and nervous system damage wrought by it.
I have a caustic way of speaking. I am much cleverer than other people, and I’m not afraid to let them know it. There are probably good reasons why in my school days I excited the antipathy of stupid boys.



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kevin s.

posted June 30, 2010 at 10:48 pm


“Kevin S.–his “macaca” moment was made during the course of a campaign for higher office, and on the record at a speech. What were they supposed to do?”
Write the story and be done with it. WaPo even did a profile on the kid Allen insulted. That’s not news, it’s advocacy.



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mm

posted June 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm


As usual, I’m confused.
Dreher writes:
“Still, Breitbart could probably get at least $50,000 worth of juicy stuff if he found only one member of that list who kept a number of e-mails, depending on when he or she joined, and who is willing to sell out others on the list.”
But isn’t the original sin that somebody on Journolist has already done that on a much smaller scale for free? Breitbart’s simply upping the price in return for a better product.
How did this scandal morph into a left/right debate when the story was originally left vs. left (or a Journo insider posing as a leftist) from the beginning?
In the name of self-preservation, when will people learn the basic lesson that nothing on the internet is/will ever be truly private?
“Never write when you can speak,
Never speak when you can nod,
Never nod when you can wink.”
-wise words from a Chicago political operator.



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Quiddity

posted July 1, 2010 at 2:46 am


Breitbart is a thug.



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Nick the Greek

posted July 1, 2010 at 4:17 am


As I see it, if the emails are all about attending each others’ kids’ birthday parties or how they all hate George Bush, that isn’t really news and the emails should stay private. But if the emails are about how because of a certain shared disposition they should play up one story and ignore another, or that everyone should use a clever phrase in a particular story to slant it a certain way, then I think that should be made public.
The trouble is, if the list falls into Breitbart’s hands, the most likely outcome is that he’ll use selective editing to make the former look like the latter. This is a known accomplice of convicted fraudster James O’Keefe we’re talking about.



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Indy

posted July 1, 2010 at 7:55 am


The chances of there being evidence of collusion on Journolist of the type of “let’s play up this story and ignore that one” or “let’s use these phrases” are between slim and none. Whatever caustic comments anyone in a quasi-private forum makes, they are likely to be off hand and spontaneous. To think otherwise is to misunderstand the nature of convos within professions. And how they operate “on the job.” Revealing all of a private email list’s contents is equivalent to Rod getting angry at one of us posters and publicly revealing all of our email addresses, which in some cases would lead to the revelation of peoples’ full names. Despite the fact that we submit those daily to a public site in the expectation they will not be revealed. As an ethical person, Rod never would do that.
Scott, I appreciate your candor in revealing how you view the present day National Review and Fox News, as you yourself are a conservative who once wrote for NR. As I noted on the civility thread, NR’s The Corner helped elect Barack Obama just as Michael Moore helped W win re-election in 2004. Concerns about some (not universal) bias in traditional media outlets need not have led to the type of approach to news and opinion that arose with NR and Fox over the last 10-15 years. Had such outlets been able to develop means of representing the news and commentary that were based on confidence and Reagan-like geniality, they could have helped the GOP.
As I’ve noted previously, there is a lot about traditional conservative principles that is positive. Outlets such as The Corner and Fox have warped some of that into something that is an overly grievance based and very negative. The approach they have used screams “we don’t belong at the table.” Instead of seeking converts, or persuading moderates like me to vote for Republicans, which I have done in some local, state or federal elections over the last 15 years, along with voting for Democrats at other times during the same period, they’ve been too focused on bonding conservatives through victimology. It’s an extremely negative approach, the opposite of what Reagan took. Very short sighted. And a lot of ordinary people have become conditioned to presenting their views the same way as a result. (It’s as if the left all were to mimic DailyKos-like snark.) So it feeds on itself. Who wants surly, whining, resentful people to take charge of government? I sure don’t.



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Indy

posted July 1, 2010 at 8:37 am


Just to close out my thoughts on the above thread, what Breitbart overlooks is that standards and principles matter. Pushing back against opponents is necessary, so too is articulating your principles and goals, but breaking the rules can backfire. If you project too much the idea that the ends justify the means, then you create doubt in the minds of voters such as me as to whether your side can handle power properly and ethically. That goes for both parties. If revelation of private email lists’ contents by a right-leaning advocate is ok, is the harrassment of political enemies through federal power and the creation of enemies lists going to be ok, too? How does that help the GOP? Look at some of the silly talk among the left during the last administration about the way Bush’s administration supposedly was misusing some of its power while he was in office. Some of that was inflicted by advocates on his own side, who over reached and depicted Bush’s opponents as traitors and enemies rather than as fellow Americans. Whichever party is in office has to work within the system, which means working with the other side on some issues. David Broder discusses that in his column about Robert Byrd today.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/30/AR2010063004201.html?referrer=emailarticle
The best way to project, “we will use power properly” if you hand us the reins of government is to show an understanding of where the bright lines are. Advocates don’t always understand that, hence their inadvertent undermining of their own side all too often.



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Scott Lahti

posted July 1, 2010 at 11:33 am


Indy: Scott, I appreciate your candor in revealing how you view the present day National Review and Fox News
On the contrary, assaying at its true value the “utterly horrid dreck” shot into the national Kleenex in such precincts requires no more “candor” than a Ph.D was required for Jethro de Beaudine to sign Uncle Jed’s birthday checks – a sixth-grade edumacation works just fine. I am reminded of the response of John Leonard, the late literary editor and critic, to Chairman Bill when the latter took him on board NR for a year in the early 1960s, as he did several others at the time in their passage to pastures new (Garry Wills, Joan Didion, Arlene Croce, Guy Davenport), as related by Victor Navasky of The Nation at a memorial for Leonard:
“John later explained that Buckley, having read another of John’s undergraduate pieces, called and inquired, “I don’t suppose you’re at all conservative?” John replied, “I am an artist.” He was hired.”
as you yourself are a conservative who once wrote for NR.
Although I did indeed write for NR upon graduation from university a quarter-century ago, and envy you your enraptured Keats-before-Chapman’s-Homer discovery of my vast archive there, all two pieces and 4000 words, I can’t begin to imagine how and why you have come to brand me a “conservative”, as I have neither here nor there no anywhere else dropped breadcrumbs so toasted. A piano player at a whorehouse is not required to drop trou and partake of the working girls within – let alone service the johns. As a friend noted, my after-dinner contributions within were, as I intended them, as much between-the-lines lacerations of what passes for intellectual journalism on the right as they were Parnassian in their disdain for the dominant left-liberal rags forming my chosen targets.
As for the role of NRO in throwing the 2008 election to the Democrats, I suspect it was negligible. We often forget that our own full-immersion daily round in the political blogosphere is a pastime of only 5% or less of US adults, and that the power of NRO to sway anyone is vastly exaggerated, as it would have to be to be noticed at all outside the fever swamps. Bush and McCain did a dispositive enough job of deep-sixing the GOP two years ago not to require backup from assorted members of Our Gang standing on each others’ shoulders under mens’ overcoats.



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Never Cease Wondering

posted July 1, 2010 at 4:23 pm


Mr. Dreher,
I am repeatedly struck dumb by your constant concern over “civility.”
Do you really think being “civil” could possibly make our situation better? It seems to me that what you do not understand or believe is that our nation is embroiled in a civil war. It is only that the violence so far has been minimal.
Peace will not come from being “civil.” It will only come when one side wins a decisive victory. This is not a time for repeated calls for “civility.” In our current situation, calls for “civility” are tantamount to calls for defeat. If, however, you want to work for civilization then I would suggest that you do what you can to make sure our side wins this war. I can guarantee you that if the other side wins, there will be no civility.



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Indy

posted July 1, 2010 at 6:03 pm


Oops, sorry, Scott. I drew the wrong conclusion from your having written for NR during the Reagan years. Your writing here is quirky and I don’t tend to view conservatives as all of a kind or monolithic so that in itself didn’t clue me in to what your leanings are now. i don’t read every post here and may have missed some essays under which you commented.



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Indy

posted July 1, 2010 at 6:39 pm


Scott, in case you’re still checking in, a follow up on the NRO’s role in Obama’s victory in 2008. The blogs and other forums I read during 2008 and the two or so years leading up to the last presidential election repurposed a lot of material. A post on NRO would be picked up and repeated on numerous personal blogs where people wrote about politics. Some of the points were repeated in emails about politics. That magnified the poor tactical choices of The Corner crowd. That gave me a skewed view of conservatives. I didn’t discover Rod’s blog until 2009. It caught my eye because he was much more thoughtful in the way he wrote about the issues — and willing to re-think his positions. If more conservatives with an online presence approached issues that way, the GOP would have been in much better shape in 2008 than it was. Its web presence overall was and still is abysmal. I don’t know how representative the web version of conservatism is of conservatives as a whole, there’s no way for me to gauge the number of people whose views align with what I see on the web. But the web has been terribly damaging to conservatism. That’s because the most impassioned writers lacked the self awareness to try to reach out to moderate voters. Of course, many of them ended up flocking to Obama.



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Scott Lahti

posted July 2, 2010 at 12:36 am


If, however, you want to work for civilization then I would suggest that you do what you can to make sure our side wins this war. I can guarantee you that if the other side wins, there will be no civility.
How very true indeed, if Breitbart’s side should win. Though some among us might be tempted to conclude as an understandable result that now is the time for all those who “want to work for civilization” to rise in unison to squash the Breitbart side like the Gargantuan dung beetles that he and his foot soldiers are, rest assured, my brothers and sisters, that if Breitbart is to be the general on the side of our enemy, we may remain safely bivouacked in the mess hall, and allow our foes to fall in battle under main force of our most formidable and textbook of allies in the present campaign – friendly fire. Since enlisting with the Breitbarts of the world is the wardrobe equivalent of going about in public always and everywhere with a KICK ME sign slapped across one’s back in 72-point neon type, our task will be seen instanter as no more strenuous than that of the big brother in a family sitcom, stiff-armed palm pressed to his little brother’s forehead as the latter verily knocks himself out in a butterfly flurry of the World’s Tiniest Haymakers.
Captcha: leadership dumbness. Why, General Breitbart – as I live and breathe!



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Brett R.

posted July 2, 2010 at 7:41 am


Peace will not come from being “civil.” It will only come when one side wins a decisive victory.
You may say he’s a dreamer…



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