Mail Call

OK, here’s another piece that’s “inside baseball” on other bloggers, praising some and kicking others, so if you find that all a crashing bore, feel free to skip the rest of this article.

And no, I won’t be doing this on all my postings from now on, thank you very much.

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Well, well, well. They’re at it again. And by “they,” I mean some of the biggest names in the blogosphere — Andrew Breitbart, Ace Of Spades, Andrew Sullivan, and Charles Johnson. This whole “JournoList” has turned into a cornucopia of controversy.

It all started when one of the members of Ezra Klein’s JournoList mailing list — where some of the bigger journalists and commentators on the list could consolidate their message on the big issues of the day. One member, Dave Weigel, had been hired by the Washington Post to cover the conservative movement, and had said some exceptionally disparaging things about his subjects. Those e-mails leaked out, and Weigel was forced to resign from the Post.

The fallout of that led to more and more people wondering just what was going on on those lists, and led to Ezra Klein to shut down the entire list — which, he predicted, would re-emerge with a different name and a slightly different membership.

Breitbart, a certifiable genius at getting headlines and attention to matters he thinks are being ignored, was one of those who was curious about those e-mails. He’s also a lot wealthier and more powerful than a lot of people, and he put that to his advantage: he’s offering $100,000 to anyone who will provide him with the complete transcripts of JournoList.

What? Publishing private e-mails? Never mind the public interest in exposing collusion between liberal public officials and liberal allegedly “objective” journalists and liberal allegedly “independent” commentators and pundits, that’s just not done! Gentlemen do not read each others’ correspondence!

There was the all-too-predictable hysteria. But two of the biggest hysterics found their double standards showing.

Andrew Sullivan spoke up first, defending the right to privacy in one’s e-mails. Andrew Breitbart quickly fired back, pointing out how Sullivan had absolutely no problem with invading every single aspect of Sarah Palin’s private life — not only his ongoing obsession with her gynecological details, but even giddily discussing the contents of her private e-mails after her account was hacked.

Sensing a chance to possibly reclaim some hint of relevance, Charles Johnson had to jump in and slam Breitbart. How dare someone publish e-mails that were intended to be private! That’s utterly utterly inexcusable.

Unless, of course, you’re Charles Johnson. Then, it’s perfectly fine to do as long as you’re slamming a right-wing blogger.

(I’ve learned my lesson; I’ve saved copies of that page both as HTML and PDF. Charles has a habit of making embarrassing things disappear from his site.)

Think about that. Charles was so outrageously outraged at the gross impropriety that Ace revealed in that e-mail that it left him unable to even talk about it for over two years. Ace sent the e-mail in March 2008; Charles kept Ace’s secret until June of 2010.

But just publishing this private e-mail wasn’t enough for Charles.

And because lying creeps like Ace of Spades will undoubtedly now try to claim I’m faking this, here are the full headers of the email, which I will supply to anyone who requests it.

Before Ace even had a chance to deny the e-mail (Ace didn’t, by the way), Charles publishes the e-mail headers, potentially compromising Ace’s privacy.

That’s OK. That’s fine. That’s the moral, respectable, ethical thing to do.

But try to get the transcripts of the JournoList e-mail, where a bunch of movers and shakers (and wannabes) discuss among themselves how to best shape public opinion and policy to suit their own political agenda? Why, that’s outrageously outrageous!

(Personally, I think Charles is auditioning to get in on JournoList 2.0. Forget it, Charles. You’ve already shown that you have no sense of loyalty whatsoever, as well as an inability to respect confidentiality when it suits your purposes. They’d be fools to trust you. As would anyone.)

Now, personally, I happen to possess some e-mails that would be tremendously entertaining to publish. Some time ago, I was corresponding with one of Wizbang’s most consistent detractors. In those e-mails, the antagonist was remarkably congenial, sociable, and downright collegial. At the time, I thought that that would cross over into public, and ratchet down some of their venom. But during the discussion, this unnamed person admitted that they were deliberately as antagonistic as possible, largely for entertainment purposes, but still wanted to “sit down for drinks” when out of sight and relax and chum around, kind of like Ralph and Sam.

I shot that down immediately. I made it clear that I don’t want to maintain two separate personas and try to keep the two from crossing over. I didn’t want to try to keep track of whether I was speaking publicly or privately, so as far as I was concerned I’d always consider them the one with the goatee.

So, no, I won’t publish it without the unnamed correspondent’s consent (which they could express by denying that they ever said such things, among other ways). But at no point did either of us express any desire or expectation of privacy, so I do not feel constrained by anything other than my own personal ethics (something else this correspondent has insisted don’t exist).

But back to the topic at hand — the JournoList records. There is certainly enough to merit discussion.

But it certainly isn’t any place where people with a history of publishing (or reveling in the publishing) of other e-mails to denounce the very notion of such egregiously egregious conduct.

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