This is becoming rote. Once again, the Daily Caller is flogging the JournoList archives, and once again they've attached a salacious headline to the story that is not supported by the evidence they present.
Today's piece is headlined: "Political operatives on Journolist worked to shape news coverage." It fits in nicely with the overall theme of the Daily Caller's JournoList coverage, which is that the now-defunct listserv was the epicenter of the liberal media conspiracy (a theme that they've pretty effectively undermined themselves). The actual story, though, contains just two examples of political operatives working to "shape news coverage," and even the Caller acknowledges that the efforts weren't very successful.
After listing all the JournoList members who quit when they took government positions, the Caller notes that Jared Bernstein, Vice President Biden's chief economic adviser, wrote a message for JournoList founder Ezra Klein to pass along to the listserv's members:
"Calling all Journos," Bernstein wrote in a message relayed by Klein. "I thought we got too little love from progressive types re our tax changes targeted at businesses with overseas operations. We're maybe going for another bite at the apple this Monday," he wrote. Bernstein invited members of the list to join him on a conference call on the issue a few days later.
As the Caller notes, a bunch of JournoListers panned Bernstein's message, but some of them signed on for the conference call. That's when the story falls apart:
In the end, 14 journalists expressed interest in the conference call with Bernstein, including Donmoyer and Washington Post reporter Alec MacGillis. The effort appeared to be wasted on Donmoyer, who in the coming weeks wrote a couple of stories for Bloomberg expressing skepticism about the idea.
Bernstein's effort did appear to bear fruit elsewhere, however. "I've heard that there's some disappointment in the administration that they haven't gotten the level of progressive love they feel they deserve for their ambitious proposals to curb abusive corporate tax loopholes," wrote influential liberal blogger Matt Yglesias the next day. Yglesias went on to attack opponents of the plan, noting "how absurd some of the abuses the administration is trying to curb are."
That's it. Bloomberg's writer was unswayed, but Bernstein found success with liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias, who is not a journalist. Unmentioned by the Daily Caller is that Yglesias had voiced his support for the Obama administration's corporate tax proposals before Bernstein's conference call reportedly took place. So, by the Caller's own reckoning, all Bernstein managed to do was gain the support of a blogger who already supported him. This constitutes "shaping news coverage"?
Then they move on to an email posted by "professional political operative" Jeff Hauser, in which he "straightforwardly asked working journalists on the list to skew their coverage" of the first McCain-Obama debate "in order to help the Democratic candidate." Notably absent from the article is any indication whatsoever that Hauser's email had an impact on coverage. Instead they offer this:
In the conversation that followed Hauser's post, not one Journolister expressed surprise or disapproval. No one rebuked Hauser for telling journalists how to carry water for a politician. Despite the group's supposedly "very strict" ban on political operatives and explicit partisan coordination, Hauser remained a member of Journolist for almost two more years.
It would have been instructive had the Daily Caller actually provided the emails that followed Hauser's missive, instead of just writing: "No one rebuked Hauser for telling journalists how to carry water for a politician." Okay, did they ignore him? Did they disagree with him? Did they politely change the subject? The Daily Caller tells us what they didn't do -- how about telling us what they did do?
Or better yet, how about just publishing the emails themselves instead of an endless series of misleading write-ups?