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Tab Dump: Partial Answers to Difficult Questions Edition

Is global warming causing the wildfires? (Partly!)

Is Twitter making us more literate? (Maybe!)

Is modern finance more like junk food or electricity? (Both!)

Should we remain in Afghanistan? (Hard to say!)

By Ezra Klein  |  September 1, 2009; 7:13 PM ET
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Dear Mr. (Ezra) Klein,
Given the events of the last 2 days, I think it is time for you (and your editors) to provide an explanation of Journolist to your readers.

Back in March when Politico first reported on the long-suspected existence of such as list ( ), you responded with a snarky "Yes, _I_ rule the blogsphere" ( ). Which was perhaps appropriate for an ensemble blogger at the American Prospect.

Since then, however, you have moved to the Washington Post as a key policy blogger, and Journolist has moved to the center of a number of unpleasant events.

1) What is Journolist?
2) Who are its members?
3) What is your role in Journolist exactly?
4) What confidentiality agreements have its members made?
4) What, if any, editing occurs to list messages?
5) What, if any, restrictions exist on using the list to slag persons who are not on the list and therefore cannot respond?
6) How, and with what pressure, did members of Journolist manage to "persuade" Media Matters to remove its link to the extracted e-mails from Journolist, and Duncan Black's post on same, that contained highly unpleasant (and presumptively unjustified) attacks on a leading media critic who is not a member of the list?

Again, as you are now a key policy blogger for the highly influential Washington Post I think a degree of transparency is owed to your readers on these questions.



Posted by: sphealey | September 1, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse


Answering on Ezra's behalf:

Yes, journalists have private conversations with one another.

No, there is no precedent stating that you are entitled to be privy to every journalist's private conversations. If there is, I'm not aware of any journalist who complies with it (including Glenn Greenwald).

Yes, the children of several employees of MediaMatters were briefly held in a secret compound in Bolivia. They have since been released.

It appears Journolist is set to become the ACORN of media conspiracy theorists. Kudos, Grand Master Klein!

Posted by: eleander | September 1, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

In the post that asks, "Is modern finance more like electricity or junk food?", Simon Johnson writes:

"If most of finance as currently organized is a form of electricity, then we obviously cannot run our globalized economy without it."

Finance is a lot like electricity, but the question really should be, is finance, as it is currently, like a very efficient smart electrical generation and transmission system, or is it like a largely socially inefficient system that's grossly overpriced and subjects the country to the devastating and high risk of massive and prolonged failure. And that because of it's bloated size has a great deal of control of the political system that it uses for its benefit at the great cost of everyone else, and to prevent increases in efficiency.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | September 2, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Please add to my comment above, after "prolonged failure", "as well as common electrocutions of citizens and their families, and blow ups of their homes".

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | September 2, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I love the partial answers to difficult questions, bit. I don't know why I find them so funny, but I do. I hope this is a regular feature of the tab dump.

Posted by: y0ssar1an | September 2, 2009 5:32 AM | Report abuse

I had no idea what Journolist was until 5 minutes ago. I read the post by Michael Calderone on Politico, and Klein's reply in The American Prospect. I think we should try to elevate this conspiracy to full-blown black helicopter proportions. Mr. Klein, you should cease all discussion of the group, deny its existence, and act nervous and defensive when anybody brings it up. Start casually mentioning your new friends in the Bilderberg Group and trips to European cities with exotic-sounding names. Sooner or later, all this suspicious behavior will come to the attention of Glenn Beck, at which point the Washington Post will start dumping gold bricks in your lap for all the attention you receive. You will become an instant celebrity in liberal circles, inevitably crossing paths with Bono. Once you have Bono on your team, you will finally know what it's like to wield real political influence.

Posted by: y0ssar1an | September 2, 2009 6:23 AM | Report abuse

That second reference ("Is Twitter Making Us More Literate") was the most interesting to me. After reading it last night, I had an immediate positive reaction: when I awoke this morning, I had a different, yet equally positive, response to it.

Thanks for providing the link!

Posted by: rmgregory | September 2, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

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