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Calvin Freiburger

Why Journolist Is No Big Deal (Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One…)

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Posted on July 26 2010 10:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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The Daily Beast’s Reihan Salam gets a gold star for Most Vapid Defense of Journolist. He says that the scandal has “inflamed conservatives with a persecution complex,” but promises to explain “what its critics don’t understand about the Web.” And what don’t we understand about the Web?

The answer turns out to be a several-hundred-word non-sequitur on the history and impact of the blogosphere that concludes with: don’t liberals deserve a place to share their thoughts with like-minded people?

We can condemn the cliquishness of JournoList. But are we going to condemn the fact that like-minded people become friends and start to think even more alike and help each other out? If not, the time may have come to shut up about JournoList and move on […] the list was merely what Mark Zuckerberg has called a “social graph,” a map of real-life friendships and working relationships that can’t be deleted. The attacks on JournoList have, if anything, created a sense of outraged solidarity among people who feel unfairly targeted.

(And oh, by the way, conservatives are too rigid in their principles. Because isn’t that ultimately the moral of every story about leftists trying to skew journalism?)

Maybe I missed it, but I’m pretty sure nobody on the Right is surprised or bothered by the fact that like-minded people talk to one another online. Rather, the scandal is about what they say during their sessions, which Salam barely even mentions.

Before we start the hand-wringing about leftists’ freedom of assembly, Journolist apologists need to explain why we shouldn’t be concerned about the trustworthiness of professional journalists (not merely commentators) who, out of the watchful eye of their readers:

  • Conspire to discredit political candidates they don’t like
  • Celebrate the heart attacks of opposing personalities
  • Conspire to stifle coverage of stories that reflect poorly on their favored candidates by accusing those who cover them of hating black people
  • Speculate about shutting down rival media outlets

The Right’s keeping the heat on Journolist isn’t some gotcha-politics witch hunt; it’s what journalism used to be all about: shining light into dark corners, holding the powerful accountable, and showing the American people who they can and can’t trust.

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Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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