Apparently, shutting down Ezra Klein’s JournoList listserv wasn’t enough to kill it. I spotted it lumbering through the dense undergrowth of the MSM just today. Over at Newsweek, former JournoLista Ben Adler recycles the talking points of former JournoLista Greg Sargent of the Washington Post. To appreciate what’s going on here, a bit of background is necessary:
Last week, Greg Sargent was thrilled over Obama’s pro-Cordoba House speech, saying it would go down as one of the President’s finest moments. When Obama changed his tune the next day, Sargent was at pains to explain how the clarified position definitely did not represent a walk back. Defending the President had an added benefit. It allowed Sargent to avoid climbing down from his own over-the-top Obama cheerleading. It was a win-win in theory, though in actual fact his argument wasn’t convincing.
Now, a week later, Ben Adler jumps in to sweep the whole episode under the rug saying, “it looks as if everyone may have overreacted.” He then offers this sentence full of weasel words restating Greg Sargent’s arguments [emphasis mine]:
It is not exactly true that Obama took an unpopular position, nor that he partially retracted it the next day, when he said that he is not taking a position of the wisdom of the project.
So it’s not “exactly” true, but is it kinda sorta true? And why add the qualifier partially? He either retracted his support or he didn’t. Why does Newsweek suddenly read like a 10th grade book report?
The real sleight of hand here is that the self-serving (and Obama-serving) nonsense Greg Sargent spouted last week has been repeated in another major outlet, this time with the aura of settled fact. Adler simply restates Sargent’s claims and links to Sargent (twice) as proof. Voila! Now watch me maybe almost pull a rabbit out of my hat.
It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. One progressive blogger uses the Post to back up the President (and cover his own ass), then his buddy uses Newsweek to repeat those claims with only a few weasel words to hint to the reader that this is just some like-minded buddy’s opinion. The next person who wants to move this ball forward now has two authoritative sources to choose from. And if things get really bad, well, the administration already has enough for a superficially plausible campaign commercial.
And so the Journolist meme machine just keeps lumbering along, even without the benefit of an operational listserv. It’s not exactly true that Adler and Sargent are colluding to partially benefit one another and the Obama administration…
No, wait, that is true.