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Journolist: FrankenKlein’s Monster

John on July 27, 2010 at 9:46 am

As a frequent and vocal critic of Ezra Klein for reasons I won’t revive now, it pains me to note that he is practically the lone voice of reason in the most recent Journolist installment from the Daily Caller. The focus this time is a discussion of message coordination for team Obama, i.e. should the Journolist come right out and collude on media strategy to help him win. After the idea is floated by Luke Mitchell of Harpers, Klein comes in and slaps it down:

Nope, no message coordination. I’m not even sure that would be legal. This is a discussion list, though, and I want it to retain that character…

It’s almost enough to make me wonder if Klein’s problem isn’t dishonesty but self-deception. Perhaps his motives for this monstrosity really were academic. Perhaps, at some deep level he is now reticent to express, he too is disappointed at what it actually became. Back in the beginning there must have been a moment when his creation truly was inspiring and hopeful…


Dr. FrankenKlein wanted to delve into the mysteries of journalistic sources and minutiae. He never intended to create a monster of leftist media manipulation which would destroy everything he loved. It just worked out that way.

But before you shed too many tears on his behalf, remember that this group went on this way for years. At some point long before last month, Dr. FrankenKlein should have surveyed what he’d created and realized what needed to be done. For instance, the following posting from Todd Gitlin of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has all the subtlety of neck bolts:

On the question of liberals coordinating, what the hell’s wrong with some critical mass of liberal bloggers & journalists saying the following among themselves:

“McCain lies about his maverick status. Routinely, cavalierly, cynically. Palin lies about her maverick status. Ditto, ditto, ditto. McCain has a wretched temperament. McCain is a warmonger. Palin belongs to a crackpot church and feels warmly about a crackpot party that trashes America…

Again. And again. Vary the details. There are plenty. Somebody on the ‘list posted a strong list of McCain lies earlier today. Hammer it. Philosophize, as Nietzsche said, with a hammer. I don’t know about any of you, but I’m not waiting for any coordination. Get on with it!

This is a professor of journalism at one of the most high profile J-schools in the nation. If this isn’t enough to convince skeptics that media bias is a problem, nothing is. At the very least, Journolist was too dangerous to journalism to be allowed to survive.

Does this make me part of the torch bearing mob? I suppose it does. But that formulation comes mostly from James Whales’ film version which explicitly makes the monster the misunderstood victim. That was a bastardization of the source material to serve a liberal political message. And even in Whales’ version, the mob had reason to be angry.

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