Politics

Journolisters debate making coordination with Obama explicit

David Roberts of Grist seemed to scold Roberts for his idea: “Just read past messages on this list, Luke. Everyone here is a /journalist /or an /independent analyst/. Their job is to /say what they think/, not to support Obama. Suggest that they focus on more electorally helpful — and equally true — messages, and they will bridle.”

Yet almost immediately after writing these words, Roberts sounded somewhat less than independent himself, referring to the Obama campaign as “we”: “I’m not bashing,” he wrote. “I’m guilty too. I just despair. We’re going to lose again, for all the same damn reasons.”

Ed Kilgore of the Progressive Policy Institute, another supposedly “independent analyst,” did the same, even outlining specific talking points: “It requires no particular strategic genius or ‘message coordination’ to recognize that we and the Obama campaign have the next two months to demonstrate that McCain and Palin represent the status quo party, the status quo ideology, and status quo policies,” he wrote.

While other members of the group debated whether to coordinate a pro-Obama message – or, more precisely, whether to concede that such a message was being coordinated — Todd Gitlin of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism had already made up his mind. Gitlin, whose job is to train the next generation of America’s most elite journalists, wrote this impassioned plea on behalf of the Obama campaign:

“On the question of liberals coordinating, what the hell’s wrong with some critical mass of liberal bloggers & journalists saying the following among themselves:

“McCain lies about his maverick status. Routinely, cavalierly, cynically. Palin lies about her maverick status. Ditto, ditto, ditto. McCain has a wretched temperament. McCain is a warmonger. Palin belongs to a crackpot church and feels warmly about a crackpot party that trashes America.

“Repeat after me:

“McCain lies about his maverick status. Routinely, cavalierly, cynically. Palin lies about her maverick status. Ditto, ditto, ditto. McCain has a wretched temperament. McCain is a warmonger. Palin belongs to a crackpot church and feels warmly about a crackpot party that trashes America.

“These people are cynical. These people are taking you for a ride. These people are fakes. These people love Bush.

“Again. And again. Vary the details. There are plenty. Somebody on the ‘list posted a strong list of McCain lies earlier today. Hammer it. Philosophize, as Nietzsche said, with a hammer.

“I don’t know about any of you, but I’m not waiting for any coordination. Get on with it!”

In an interview, Gitlin conceded he was noting the “features of McCain and Palin most worthy of highlighting towards the end of defeating them.” He said he had never advocated “bending facts” to get Obama elected.