Some commentators have moaned that the public exposure of Journolist (a listserv group of snotty leftwing reporters, news producers, and other weenies) deals a mortal blow to the mainstream media’s dying credibility. Those moans probably exaggerate. The mainstream media’s death will probably continue slowly, as it has for many years.
The exposure of Journolist is probably more of a humorous embarrassment than a mortal blow. Ectomorphic Upper West Side intellectuals fantasizing, like so many internet tough guys, about smashing GOP heads through plate glass. Crunchy West Coast NPR producers dreaming orgasmically about Rush Limbaugh’s death rattle.
My own favorite part was UCLA law professor Jonathan Zasloff’s suggestion that the Federal Communications Commission should revoke Fox News Channel’s license: “I hate to open this can of worms, but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”
Ah, professor, Fox News is a cable channel. It has no “broadcasting permit” for the FCC to pull.
In the end, the greatest damage caused by Journolist may be a kind of opportunity cost. The insecure elitists on the list made a process that could have been democratic and transparent into a petty clique — a hypocritical choice for self-styled “progressives” to make in response to the openness (some say revolutionary openness) of the internet. As left-leaning pundit Mickey Kaus has written: “It’s as if they’d looked at our great national parks and said, ‘Hey, what we really need is to carve out a private walled enclave for the well connected.’ Invited to a terrific party, they immediately set up a VIP room.”
Clearly, openness is not what they desire. Maybe Prof. Zasloff can look into the possibility of the FCC’s pulling the internet’s broadcast permit.