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JournoList: Is 'call them racists' a liberal media tactic?

JournoList was an informal online discussion group involving several hundred left-leaning journalists. In excerpts released Tuesday, some of their discussions appeared to veer toward collusion, from how to protect Barack Obama to how to tar conservative critics.

By Staff writer / July 20, 2010

The Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses the media during a news conference at the 101st annual NAACP convention July 14 in Kansas City, Mo. At the convention, the NAACP called on the 'tea party' movement to repudiate racism.

Ed Zurga/AP



Excerpts published Tuesday by a conservative online news site suggest that a group of journalists from the mainstream media discussed ways to shield Barack Obama from criticism during the 2008 presidential election.

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Among the strategies put forward: call conservative critics racists.

The excerpts, published by the Daily Caller, come at a sensitive time, with both he political left and right accusing each other of race-baiting.

The NAACP recently accused the “tea party” of sheltering racists in its midst. Shortly after, the National Tea Party Federation expelled Mark Williams, leader of the Tea Party Express, for writing a satirical letter about how “colored people” preferred slavery.

Now, conservative commentators are pointing to the JournoList excerpts as proof that the mainstream media collude to promote a liberal agenda, play the race card, and discredit conservative movements like the tea party.

"The [JournoList] is troubling," says Jim Campbell, a political science professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo. "At one level it could be thought of as just colleagues throwing ideas out to one another, but from another standpoint it almost looks like collusion … where virtual talking points are shared and solidified in a group.”

“That can't be healthy for the country – or for the media, for that matter," he says.

JournoList: What is it?

The list was created by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein and, and several hundred self-described liberals joined before it was shut down recently.

According to excerpts released, reporters quibbled endlessly among themselves, and it's far from clear if any of their collective kvetching ever drove an actual media narrative. But the excerpts pull back the curtain on how deeply the visceral and vindictive left-right split in American politics not only is reflected within the media, but can be amplified by them.

When conservatives were criticizing Mr. Obama for his connection to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in 2008, some JournoList members discussed a counterstrategy.