Real scandals vs. non-scandals
It’s interesting to me that the Daily Caller has chosen right now to hump the “OMG liberals talk to each other!!!!!!” non-story, since this is right on the heels of a legitimate media scandal—Andrew Breitbart’s smear campaign against Shirley Sherrod, and how it was shamefully taken seriously long enough to get Sherrod fired, when it should have been ignored right off the bat, due to Breitbart being a known liar. Even worse, there’s still an aching silence where media and government mea culpas for taking the ACORN lies seriously should be. CNN did blow the doors off Breitbart’s latest racially motivated smear campaign, but there is still a lack of follow-up coverage exposing Breitbart and his entire crew for being the racist fuckwit liars they are.
The timing of the Journolist faux scandal could be a coincidence. The Daily Caller realized that they were getting a lot of hits with this, because above all other things, movement conservatives are motivated by resentment. Simply having a list of people they could enviously deem the “liberal elite” and obsessing over the fact that they talk to each other is basically enough to get movement conservatives riled up. The rationalizations for this whole non-scandal mongering are paper thin; the ugly reality is that the theme of the Daily Caller expose is, “The cool kids think they’re so cool, but we totally eavesdropped on their conversations. So there!” If there was any doubt in my mind before this that the whining about the “liberal elite” was pandering to jackasses who are jealous that other people who aren’t jackasses live well, this wiped it out. Screeching about the “liberal elite” is about as transparent as screeching about the evils of hipsters who think they’re so cool because they bother to keep up with new music whine whine whine.
Still, I worry that this whole thing is being parlayed into an attempt to play the “both sides” card, which is conservatives’ last ditch cover story when they’re exposed as dirty motherfuckers. Indeed, reading whining from the likes of Roger Simon about how a listserv is the end of journalism after the disgraceful Sherrod episode convinces me that this is exactly what conservatives are aiming for. But there is no “both sides” here. The right wing noise machine shamelessly pushes blatant lies into the public discourse, the mainstream shamefully reports on them, and the Democrats shamefully ask “how high?” when known liars like Andrew Breitbart tell them to jump. The Sherrod thing only ended up well because of a couple of lucky breaks, as Ari Rabin-Havt explained on a panel at Netroots. Most of the time, the truth doesn’t come out until much later and then is summarily ignored. And we’re supposed to think that a bunch of liberal journalists using each other as a way to sharpen their thinking, get information, and vent is some scandal. I’m beginning to think that the Daily Caller and Politico folks are mostly offended that the journalists on the list still think there’s value in journalism that reports on real issues and explains actual policy to the public. Why do that when you could be riding fake scandals, smearing innocent people, and passing off Beltway gossip like it’s news?
Luckily, it does seem to me that, for once, the mainstream media is actually doing its job here. The real scandal—Andrew Breitbart’s shamelessly smearing of an innocent woman and the Obama administration’s shameful cowering in front of bullies—is getting big time media coverage, whereas the non-scandal is mostly being ignored (from what I can tell). I’d like to say I think this bodes well for the future, but honestly I doubt it. Things just broke the right way this one time, but it’s almost surely coincidence. Hell, I doubt that even Andrew Breitbart is really over, even though in a right-thinking media environment, he would be.