Monday, July 26, 2010

Raw JournoList E-Mails on 'Babygate' - Was there a 'liberal conspiracy' to protect Sarah Palin? - Updated!

Here, we see Sarah Palin thinking, fleetingly, just for a moment, "Darn! We can't have it both ways!"

The Daily Caller has published "Raw Journolist emails on 'Palin's Downs Child.'" These are posts by members of JournoList (to the list) concerning stories that Sarah Palin had faked a pregnancy. WikiPedia's entry for Ezra Klein, the founder of JournoList, has this background information about the list:

In February 2007 Klein created a Google Groups forum called "JournoList" for discussing politics and the news media. The forum's membership was controlled by Klein and limited to "several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics." Posts within JournoList were intended only be made and read by its members. Klein defended the forum saying that it "[ensures] that folks feel safe giving off-the-cuff analysis and instant reactions". JournoList member, and Time magazine columnist, Joe Klein added that the off-the-record nature of the forum was necessary because “candor is essential and can only be guaranteed by keeping these conversations private”.

The existence of JournoList was first publicly revealed in a July 27, 2007 blog post by blogger Mickey Kaus. However, the forum did not attract serious attention until March 17, 2009 when an article was published on Politico that detailed the nature of the forum and the extent of its membership. The Politico article set off debate within the Blogosphere over the ethics of participating in JournoList and raised questions about its overall purpose. The first public excerpt of a discussion within JournoList was posted by Mickey Kaus on his blog on March 26, 2009.

Members of JournoList included, among others: Ezra Klein, Jeffrey Toobin, Eric Alterman, Paul Krugman, Joe Klein (no relation to Ezra Klein), Matthew Yglesias, and Jonathan Chait.

On June 25, 2010, Ezra Klein announced in his Washington Post blog that he would be terminating the Journolist group. This decision was instigated by fellow blogger Dave Weigel's resignation from the Post following the public exposure of several of his Journolist emails about conservative media figures.

Klein had justified excluding conservative Republicans from participation as "not about fostering ideology but preventing a collapse into flame war. The emphasis is on empiricism, not ideology".

The 'babygate' posts to JournoList are sorted by date and time, beginning:
Ryan Donmoyer

Aug 30, 2008, 12:07am

I actually hesitate to bring this up…

But is anyone following this: [that story has been deleted]

And ending:
Katha Pollitt

Sept 1, 2008, 12:02pm

I think people are making very narrow harsh judgments about behavior and decisions while pregnant that are not all that unusual. A lot of things look worse on paper than they do in real life. Sarah Palin had been pregnant and delivered four times before Trig. What looks to some j-listers like wild irresponsibility bordering on criminal insanity may have just been her belief that she knew how her body worked and how much time she had before going into full delivery mode. And, if it was her baby, she was right! she didn’t give birth on the plane etc.

In between those two posts, there are many more by well-known members of the media. The consensus that seems to have emerged was that it was a story that should not be covered. The posts are interesting and may provide some insight into why the mainstream media "ignored" the story, as some have claimed; however, the NY Times did mention how the story was received inside the Republican convention hall in 2008 in its story "Palin Daughter's Pregnancy Interrupts Convention Script," which tells why the McCain campaign released news of Bristol's pregnancy, and the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) did describe the "Wild Ride" as well as the scene inside the convention.

Interesting that the "liberal," "biased," "lamestream" media gave Sarah Palin a pass, isn't it? A recent Salon article, "Today's liberal journalist e-mail scandal: They criticized Sarah Palin," is also interesting.

The claims by the right that JournoList is evidence of a liberal media conspiracy don't hold water after reading how members of JournoList didn't run with a story that might have severely damaged the Republicans and Sarah Palin.

Conservative Andrew Sullivan has weighed-in and, apparently, sees something of a conspiracy in the JournoList posts on 'Babygate.' He ends with:
This is your liberal media, ladies and gentlemen: totally partisan, interested in the truth only if it advances their agenda, and devoid of any balls whatsoever. ...
But, Andrew, why didn't they run with the story? Wouldn't a "liberal media" have been delighted to "advance their agenda" and derail McCain's campaign with a story about how Sarah Palin had faked a pregnancy?

People should be aware that conservatives of all stripes are desperately trying to use the existence of JournoList as evidence that an evil, liberal media conspiracy exists. Andrew Sullivan is one of them. Unfortunately, he chose to make a case with the 'babygate' posts to the list, which show that JournoList's members were not part of a liberal conspiracy.

Update: Sarah Palin wrote this about these JournoList posts published by The Daily Caller:
How ironic that on a day when we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, The Daily Caller released 15 pages of JournoListers’ email exchanges about a dark and demented conspiracy regarding my son, Trig.

It’s tough to fittingly describe these numerous members of the mainstream media who actively engaged in the debate about this conspiracy back when I was first introduced as John McCain’s running mate, ...
Did she read the posts? Does she know that none of those JournoList members published a story about the "dark and demented conspiracy?" That they saved her bacon?

CBS has a story about Palin's Facebook post. CBS' story quotes this part of Palin's Facebook post, among others:
This JournoList exchange exposes the warped nature of today's media, thus explaining why many of us are forced, in fairness to the public, to utilize other mediums to communicate until the mainstream media wakes up and begins respecting the public's intelligence and desire for truth in reporting.
By substituting ignorance for intelligence and common-sense for truth in her last sentence, you may understand part of Sarah Palin's problem with the media. "The public" must be Sarah Palin's fans. Sarah Palin's found an excuse to continue to hide-out on Facebook and pontificate on Fox!

Upate: Andrew Sullivan has posted "Journo-List And My Hyperbole."


Joie Vouet said...

The NY Times story cited in the post has:

The Palins’ statement arrived after a flurry of rumors had made their way through the Internet over the weekend, growing and blooming, it seemed, by the minute.

Some claimed that Ms. Palin had not actually given birth to Trig, but that Bristol had, and that the family had covered it up. Various Web sites posted photographs of Ms. Palin in the months leading up to his birth this year, and debated whether her physique might have been too trim for her stage of pregnancy. The McCain campaign said Ms. Palin announced Bristol’s pregnancy to stop the swirl of rumors.

Ms. Palin’s own pregnancy took Alaska by surprise this year. Even those who worked for her in the governor’s office said they were surprised. Her announcement, in March, was reported in The Anchorage Daily News, which noted at the time that Ms. Palin “simply doesn’t look pregnant.”

Friends said that Ms. Palin, a conservative Protestant and a member since 2006 of Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion group, knew when she was pregnant with Trig (said to be a Norse name for strength) that he had Down syndrome — a fact that has, in some ways, sealed Ms. Palin’s support among anti-abortion advocates and others.

Joie Vouet said...

It can be easy to say the media "ignored" the story; however, everyone has to select stories. There is not time to cover everything thoroughly. It appears to me that the story was considered by the posters to JournoList. You can read why they wouldn't cover it for yourself. Of course, not everyone was on JournlList, and every member may not have contributed to that discussion, and (for you conspiracy theorists (LoLz)) there may have been offline discussions, too, so ... .

The point of my post is that JournoList, which the right is trying to portray as some gigantic liberal media conspiracy was not what they claim. If it had been, these JournoList posts would read something like, "Yeah, let's run with it and destroy the Republicans and Sarah Palin." ...

Anonymous said...

How did Dave Weigel get onto JournoList?

Joie Vouet said...

Interesting question, Anonymous 7:09. I don't know. Andrew Sullivan has called Dave Weigel a Conservative (Capital 'C', not one of the common-sense ones). Could the fact that Weigel's posts were leaked after he went to WaPo indicate that there were other conservatives on the list? (Weren't the conservatives interested in embarrassing Weigel?)

Oops! I may have just thrown the "conspiracy theorists" another bone. Let's see whether they can figure it out. LoLz.

Joie Vouet said...

Another point to be made concerns the right-wing lie that JournoList was full of Journalists. Many of the members were opinion writers.

If opinion writers wouldn't run with the story, how could reporters/editors be expected to? Expected to even be interested?

It remains to look into the background of the posters to the 'babygate' part of the list to determine whether they were Journalists. It could be the subject of another post, if there is enough interest.

snowbilly said...

Great post, J. It's interesting when the posts concerning babygate abruptly ended, coinciding with the timing of the release of the story that Bristol was pregnant. Basically, the campaign statement ended the story, because it was thought that Bristol could not have given birth to Trig, then been pregnant with Tripp.

Some argued that Bristol could have become pregnant again. Then, the date of Trig's birth was questioned, then some moved the date of Trig's birth up, as though they were persuaded by the argument that Bristol could not have become pregnant again and been as pregnant as claimed at the time of the convention, seemingly accepting the official date of Trig's birth. Isn't there an inconsistency in their argument, there?

Anyway, what would be interesting to learn is the origin of the questioning of the date and the origin of the rumor that Trig was born earlier. Was this due to a firm belief that Bristol had given birth to Trig? Did she?

It seems that an accurate etiology of the rumors is needed.

Your point about the conservative lies about the list is an important one. What I'd like to see might be the subject of another post, too.

Joie Vouet said...

LoLz, snowbilly. Are you paying me?

That might be the real story, though: "The Story about 'The Story that Sarah Palin Faked a Pregnance'"

nswfm said...

FYI, this is the Daily Kos piece that got axed:

and the clearer version is here:

The photos on the AK website got scrubbed well before Parnell got on the scene.

The first time I showed my parents the square pillow of Palin in the blue windbreaker they said no way was she pregnant. Then I showed the photo where she's having a pic taken with a little girl and her stomach area is wrinkled....When Bristol's Tripp pregnancy was announced, my father thought she had what I learned on the East Coast are called "Irish Twins"--two kids born in 12 months because, my father guessed, she didn't think she could get pregnant so quickly after giving birth.

Then I showed my parents the baby with the hole in front of the ear (the baby shower) and the one with out (ie the convention), and they know there's a big fat lie around this kid business.

Joie Vouet said...

Thanks, nswfm. "Sarah Palin Is NOT The Mother [Photos+Video]" and a copy.

It appears that there hasn't much in the way of new developments since this post at DailyKos appeared, except for IM's discovery about Trig's ears, and, well, the insistence of some that Trig was born earlier.

These posts could be useful. If I remember correctly, Kos had the post deleted because it smacked of conspiracy theory. He also bans 9/11 conspiracy theorists ...

Anonymous said...

re Sullivan's comment about "balls": He recently wrote that he never wrote about the story in his newspaper columns. He deliberately only wrote about it in his blog.

Joie Vouet said...

Anonymous 12:23, Here is what Andrew Sullivan said:

And one thing about "reputation", "ethics", etc. I have not written a column on this in the Atlantic or the Sunday Times, because I don't have the facts to back up any substantive alternative theory to Palin's story-line. But on a blog, I take the responsibility seriously not to bullshit my readers, not to adopt a professional persona that obscures my real-time thoughts. I think a blog exists to air things you cannot nail down in a more formal journalistic context. And I think many of my critics do not get or simply disagree with this understanding of the relationship of blogging to journalism.

He seems to be saying that he couldn't publish his thoughts in a more mainstream venue, because "I don't have the facts to back up any substantive theory to Palin's story-line." He did, however, publish in his blog. So, it was an absence of facts, not balls, that prevented him from publishing elsewhere.

His reason can explain why other Journalists couldn't publish, either, so I don't think Journalists should be blamed for not reporting the story.

Joie Vouet said...

Good night, everyone.
I'll leave this post up until Wednesday unless there is bigger news.

Anonymous said...

"Did she read the posts?" I don't think she reads anything other than fashion magazines. I doubt she read her own book! I don't think she did a quick three minute search on the internet about the "trade center mosque" before her ignorant tweets.

It seem the Trig story on journolist never got legs because of the initial trying to reconcile the fake pregnancy to Bristol giving birth. Others have since suggested that the key question is not who gave birth to Trig but who didn't. Too bad that nuance wasn't played out by the journolist participants.

Joie Vouet said...

Anonymous 1:25, Yes, but it's difficult to decide who didn't give birth, because there are so many possibilites! I do think that the assumption that Sarah didn't, which led to a search for motive, pulled people down a deep rabbit hole. So now we have the absurdity of a story that Sarah didn't relying on a story that Bristol did. But even if Bristol was pregnant, they are assuming that she was pregnant with Trig! Some of the people who "know" aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.