Another Secret Left-Wing List Surfaces

Politico’s Michael Calderone has an article about a secretive discussion list on which mainstream journalists, selected left-wing bloggers, and academics figure out talking points and coordinate strategies: JournoList: Inside the echo chamber.

For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.

Proof of a vast liberal media conspiracy? Not at all, says Ezra Klein, the 24-year-old American Prospect blogging wunderkind who formed JournoList in February 2007. “Basically,” he says, “it’s just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely.”

But some of the journalists who participate in the online discussion say — off the record, of course — that it has been a great help in their work. On the record, The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin acknowledged that a Talk of the Town piece — he won’t say which one — got its start in part via a conversation on JournoList. And JLister Eric Alterman, The Nation writer and CUNY professor, said he’s seen discussions that start on the list seep into the world beyond. …

But beyond these specific examples, it’s hard to trace JList’s influence in the media, because so few JListers are willing to talk on the record about it.

POLITICO contacted nearly three dozen current JList members for this story. The majority either declined to comment or didn’t respond to interview requests — and then returned to JList to post items on why they wouldn’t be talking to POLITICO about what goes on there.

In an e-mail, Klein said he understands that the JList’s off-the-record rule “makes it seems secretive.”

This news isn’t a surprise; it’s a tactic the left/progressive wing has been using for quite a while. In 2006 a secret “talking points” email list for left-wing bloggers was revealed: Daily Kos: The Townhouse Affair.

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