In 2007, when Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein founded Journolist, an online gathering place for several hundred liberal journalists, academics and political activists, he imagined a discussion group that would connect young writers to top sources.
But in the heat of a bitter presidential campaign in 2008, the list’s discussions veered into collusion and coordination at key political moments, documents revealed this week by The Daily Caller show.
In a key episode, Journolist members openly plotted to bury attention on then-candidate Barack Obama’s controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman, for instance, suggested an effective tactic to distract from the issue would be to pick one of Obama’s critics, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”
Conservative critics of Washington’s journalistic establishment have long charged the media with a striking liberal bias. But those critics have also said the problem was mostly unintentional, the result of a press corps made up mostly of Democratic-leaning scribes.
Yet Journolist’s discussions show an influential left-wing faction of the media participating in a far more intentional sort of liberal bias.
Journolist’s members included dozens of straight-news reporters from major news organizations, including Time, Newsweek, The Associated Press, Reuters, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Politico, Bloomberg, Huffington Post, PBS and a large NPR affiliate in California.