Jonathan Strong at Daily Caller:
Katha Pollitt – Hayes’s colleague at the Nation – didn’t disagree on principle, though she did sound weary of the propaganda. “I hear you. but I am really tired of defending the indefensible. The people who attacked Clinton on Monica were prissy and ridiculous, but let me tell you it was no fun, as a feminist and a woman, waving aside as politically irrelevant and part of the vast rightwing conspiracy Paula, Monica, Kathleen, Juanita,” Pollitt said.
“Part of me doesn’t like this shit either,” agreed Spencer Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent. “But what I like less is being governed by racists and warmongers and criminals.”
Ackerman went on:
I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.
And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.
Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren’t racists. “We’ll know who doesn’t deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it.” He also said he had begun to implement his plan. “I previewed it a bit on my blog last week after Commentary wildly distorted a comment Joe Cirincione made to make him appear like (what else) an antisemite. So I said: why is it that so many on the right have such a problem with the first viable prospective African-American president?”
Several members of the list disagreed with Ackerman – but only on strategic grounds.
“Spencer, you’re wrong,” wrote Mark Schmitt, now an editor at the American Prospect. “Calling Fred Barnes a racist doesn’t further the argument, and not just because Juan Williams is his new black friend, but because that makes it all about character. The goal is to get to the point where you can contrast some _thing_ — Obama’s substantive agenda — with this crap.”
(In an interview Monday, Schmitt declined to say whether he thought Ackerman’s plan was wrong. “That is not a question I’m going to answer,” he said.)
Kevin Drum, then of Washington Monthly, also disagreed with Ackerman’s strategy. “I think it’s worth keeping in mind that Obama is trying (or says he’s trying) to run a campaign that avoids precisely the kind of thing Spencer is talking about, and turning this into a gutter brawl would probably hurt the Obama brand pretty strongly. After all, why vote for him if it turns out he’s not going change the way politics works?”
But it was Ackerman who had the last word. “Kevin, I’m not saying OBAMA should do this. I’m saying WE should do this.”
Those who suspected that the media was collaborating to spin the coverage in Obama’s favor were righter than they knew. . . .
Andrew Breitbart at Big Journalism:
American journalism died a long time ago; today Tucker Carlson got around to running the obituary. What The Daily Caller has unearthed proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that most media organizations are either complicit by participation in the treachery that is Journolist, or are guilty of sitting back and watching Alinsky warfare being waged against all that challenged the progressive orthodoxy. The scandal predictably involves journalists posing as professors posing as experts. But dressed down they are nothing but street thugs. They deserve the deepest levels of public consternation. We must demand that they do.
The only way that the media will recover from the horrifying discoveries found in the Journolist is to investigate and investigate until every guilty reporter, professor and institution is laid bare begging America for forgiveness. Will they do it?
If the powers that be don’t comply with this demand, we can always call Jonathan Alter and Eric Alterman racists.*
The media is filled with left-wing activists.
The race card is the first and last refuge of liberal scoundrels.
The race-card playing liberals in the media tried their best to whitewash Barack Obama’s radical ties to Jeremiah Wright and other race demagogues.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, but it’s always useful to see all the plotting and evidence in writing.
Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media:
And don’t forget to have CNN declare their network a “Wright-Free Zone” — a week after praising to the hilt Wright’s performance at the annual convention of the NAACP.
Matt Welch at Reason:
As this whole episode describes a world utterly alien to me–listservs, major-party affiliation, political team identity, desire to help out politicians–I am experiencing this mostly as a consumer of entertainment news (with the caveat that I have met several of the people involved). There is a certain poetry, however, to seeing Joe Conason’s name associated with it all.
Ben Domenech at The New Ledger:
Fred Barnes is a devout Christian and a gentleman, a respected writer who has never given any indication of racist views. The fact that Ackerman would recommend this wrathful and baseless attack isn’t surprising. But it does say something about membership in the menagerie of tame conservatives that where Barnes is maligned by the Left, Douthat is exempted.
Mona Charen at NRO
The best defense is to be offensive. It’s what wriggles when you lift the JournoList rock. Chatter at Memeorandum. Spencer “Call them Racists” Ackerman’s FDL site here. At Wired here. At last check, crickets in response. Maybe because a good character assassination plot, as the DailyCaller’s reporting illustrates, takes planning. It’ll be interesting to see if Wired wants to keep a scribbler who tried to influence a national election by engineering unwarranted venal ad-hominem attacks.
HotAir: The objections weren’t whether it was right or not. They were about whether it would work.
National Review: The well-worn accusation of racism has been losing its punch. But rarely do we see the motivation so baldly stated.
Hey, if they keep it up, maybe we will end up post-racial. And post-racialist, starting with Ackerman. It would be kind of ironic if the only character that ended up getting assassinated out of all that plotting is his own.
Salon scribbler doesn’t see what the big deal is with liberals plotting to randomly smear Republicans as racist in order to divert attention from a presidential candidate’s distracting racist problem. After all, belief in Republican racism is a liberal given. Which makes it OK.
Moderate Voice: Just because the right-wing is paranoid doesn’t mean the lefty media wasn’t out to get them. (To TMV’s credit, that’s not exactly how they put it.)
Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:
I think we’re finally getting to a point where the overuse of the “racism” charge since Barack Obama became president has weakened its sting. This story should weaken it further, as it reveals how comfortable some of our most passionate racism watchdogs are with sowing racial discord for partisan advantage.
I think this is healthy—for those falsely accused, for the political process, for race relations, and for those who suffer real racism of the sort that’s not immediately politically useful to a listserv of mostly white journalists in Washington, D.C.
Matt Welch at Reason
Byron York at The Washington Examiner
Conor Friedersdorf at The American Scene
UPDATE #2: More Strong
Joe Klein at Swampland at Time
Jonathan Chait at TNR
UPDATE #3: More Strong
DRJ at Patterico
UPDATE #4: Bill Scher and Conor Friedersdorf at Bloggingheads
UPDATE #5: Roger Simon at Politico
Alex Pareene at Salon
UPDATE #6: Reihan Salam at Daily Beast
Heather Horn at The Atlantic
UPDATE #7: Instapundit
UPDATE #8: Michelle Goldberg and Dayo Olopade at Bloggingheads