Tucker Carlson will keep releasing, misrepresenting Journolist e-mails

Unless someone else posts the archive, the right will keep misrepresenting the liberal listserv's contents

Published July 21, 2010 2:42PM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson — proving that he'd much rather be the pretending-he's-the-thinking-man's Andrew Breitbart than practice the actual "conservative journalism" he promised when he launched "The Daily Carlson" — is just going to keep running stories on Journolist, forever, until his reporter, Jonathan Strong, runs out of e-mails.

Journolist was an e-mail listserv of hundreds of liberal-leaning and nonpartisan journalists and academics. (I was not on it, and didn't particularly wish to be.) Recently, e-mails from the list were used to smear libertarian journalist Dave Weigel, who reported on the conservative movement for the Washington Post until they fired him because they're cowards. Now, more e-mails have been leaked to the Daily Caller, and they will presumably have new, misleading stories on these e-mails every day until they run out of them.

The ongoing misleading stories based on Journolist e-mails is probably part of the sort of coordinated media campaign that conservatives like to imagine liberals participating in. Here's what Sarah Palin wrote yesterday:

It really says it all — though more will no doubt be revealed in the future, no doubt covering the lamestream media’s coverage of other issues and people. May the light keep shining!

No doubt Carlson is going to continue milking this as long as it gets him airtime on Fox, no doubt he's making sure everyone knows what he's got and what he's going to do with it. No doubt.

Today's Caller headline — "Liberal Journalists Suggest Government Shut Down Fox News" — is objectively untrue. Simply reading the e-mails quoted in the story show that a non-journalist asked an academic question — whether the FCC had the authority to shut down Fox — and was quickly shot down by the journalists involved in the discussion.

The Caller isn't posting the full discussions, in context, because that would undercut the narrative they're constructing. Journolist founder Ezra Klein should consider posting the discussions in full himself (which he won't — in part because he'd presumably want to get permission from every contributor who thought it was going to remain off the record).

Daniel Foster weighed in to say that noooooo one on the right would ever joke about the death of a political opponent. (To his credit, he updated his post when he was reminded of the existence of Glenn Beck.) Jonah Goldberg just thinks this is all funny, because lol liberals. "So much of it reads like dorm room b.s. from the student-government crowd," he writes. Unlike his published work on THE Corner, which reads more like dorm room b.s. from the crowd that kept babbling about "The Fountainhead" every time they got high.

Nate Silver reviews his own contributions to Jlist, finds nothing of interest and promises never to revisit the subject again.

Matt Yglesias pushes back against the central claims of the Caller story. But Matt, along with lots of other former Jlisters, is on his way to Netroots Nation, the annual progressive blogger circle jerk. (Cunning timing by Carlson.)

And Klein, finally, responds himself. He is resigned, I guess, to having all the members of his listserv repeatedly smeared:

It's safe to say that the Daily Caller will continue pumping the Journolist story. There are tens of thousands of e-mails in that trove, a lot of people speaking unguardedly, unwisely and impolitically. That's a lot of grist you can use for various attention-grabbing headlines, and stories full of quotes out of context. There's not a lot to be done about it, and I won't be trying to answer every story, or explain every thread. I actually expect this to be my final public comment on the subject.

As long as Journolist members allow Tucker Carlson to control the e-mails, he'll control the story of what they say and mean. He has demonstrated that he feels no responsibility to tell the truth about what he has, so getting all high-minded about it doesn't help anyone. If you want everyone to recognize that these were lively discussions and arguments, and not a cabal, you need to take away Carlson's exclusivity and release this shit yourself.

Maybe people don't want to be embarrassed by things they wrote off-handedly in 2008, but embarrassment is surely preferable to public flogging by the right-wing media.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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