Ezra is politer than he should be about the headline on Michael Calderone's piece. If Calderone wants to build rather than destroy his own reputation, he needs to apologize to Ezra for the headline. If Calderone doesn't care about his own repuation, he won't.
EzraKlein Archive | The American Prospect: It is true: I am the coordinating force behind a vast, tentacular conspiracy involving every journalist and policy wonk in Washington, DC. To this I say: It's all true. My power is immense. My enemies will be crushed. My bling shines fierce. Mwahahahahaha. Sort of. Mike Calderone's story on Journolist basically gets the list serv right, though the Politico headline, the Drudge headline, and so forth get it quite wrong. There are a lot of off the record list servs floating around Washington, DC. There's one for bloggers, three for feminists, a couple for national security reporters, a handful for progressive organizers, and dozens more I know nothing about....
Journolist is meant to serve a very specific purpose. The work of this site has always been to illuminate standard political reporting with expert policy commentary. In that, I've been helped by the many experts who have adopted the medium as their own: Mark Thoma, Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, Matthew Holt, Peter Orszag, Andrew Gelman, Larry Bartels, Dani Rodrik, John Sides, among others. As a journalist, it's hard to always know who to call or which questions to ask. The joy of those blogs is that I don't have to guess what experts think is important: They simply explain what they think is important and I can use, or follow-up on, the information. But not all policy experts have blogs. Many are frankly unsettled by the medium. They've been trained to view published material as almost sacrosanct: The product of much review and long reflection. That's great, but it doesn't obviate the value of off-the-cuff expertise. Sometimes I need to know about Pakistan before the ICG releases its report. Happily, in my experience, most wonks were more than willing to provide quick commentary e-mail. Which is why I created Journolist. The idea, then as now, was to foster a safe space where policy experts, academics, and journalists could freely talk through issues, bringing up the questions they considered urgent and the information they thought important, with the result being a more informed commentariat. It's been of immense value to me, and through that, of value to my readers.
As for sinister implications, is it "secret?" No. Is it off-the-record? Yes. The point is to create a space where experts feel comfortable offering informal analysis and testing out ideas. Is it an ornate temple where liberals get together to work out "talking points?" Of course not. Half the membership would instantly quit if anything like that emerged. There are no government or campaign employees on the list. More to the point, there are a number of folks who are straight news reporters and consciously eschew partisanship. Also, Erick Erickson writes:
I’m told such luminaries as David Shuster at MSNBC, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, a host of New York Times magazine writers, Frank Rich, and others all collaborate on this list.
I'm not sure who told him that. Not one of those people is on Journolist. If they were, I imagine I'd get booked for more spots on Maddow. It is true that the list is center to left. That's not about fostering ideology but preventing a collapse into flame war. The emphasis is on empiricism, not ideology...