Luke Mitchell’s rambling response to the DC

The Daily Caller revealed that Luke Mitchell, then an editor at Harper’s, suggested members of Journolist coordinate a progressive weekly message to help President Obama win the election, even though that “sounds loathsome.”

The DC’s Jonathan Strong asked Mitchell for comment, and this is what he said:

I was saddened by your failure to respond to my previous two queries. Just to remind you: I had wanted to know first which you thought had greater news value – the merits of U.S torture policy or private chit-chat about a liberal television personality – and second how it was that your boss came to the conclusion that I am “dishonest” and “corrupt . . .”

I get that some people just aren’t that interested in policy. But I do hope you can at least shed a bit of light on the second question. I try very hard to be honest, but maybe I’ve missed something.

And now onwards!

You ask: “Why, in your view, would [using a listserv to coordinate a left partisan message of the week] be loathsome?”

The construction of your question is a bit misleading. It suggests I had asserted that using a listserv to coordinate a left partisan message of the week would in fact be loathsome, but that left partisans nonetheless should do so. That simply is not the case. Had I been writing for a public audience – or even just for the employees of the Daily Caller – I would have tried much harder to make myself clear. Lesson learned!

Anyway, let’s recast this to be the more open-ended question that I myself was attempting to ask. How about: Would using a listserv to coordinate a left partisan message of the week be loathsome?

Better, no? Asking why something is loathsome closes too many doors right off the bat. Asking IF something is loathsome gives you a whole new layer of ethical conundrum to ponder. And all of those layers foment just the kind of endless egghead discussion that I really enjoy. (As I assume you know from reading so much of my private email.)

But before I finally answer this interesting and complex question, let’s recall why I was not previously able to discuss it: Ezra Klein asked me to halt that discussion before it even began, and so I did. That was that. There has never been any message coordination on JournoList, nor has there ever been any discussion of such coordination – indeed, there has never even been any discussion ABOUT having such a discussion.

That’s right. We have refrained even from meta-discussion.

I hope you will make that clear to your readers. They seem to be under the misimpression that, for instance, when McCain picked Palin, liberal journalists coordinated the best line of attack. But of course that’s just not the case.

Now on to your query. Would using a listserv to coordinate a left partisan message of the week be loathsome?

Great question!

As I am sure you also know, message coordination is an important part of politics. In the United States, such coordination has served mostly right-wing media outlets and the policies (such as they are) that those outlets promote. I have long wondered if the left should attempt some kind of countervailing coordination of its own.