More on JournoList: Election Night 2008 and Nate Silver’s Life on J-List

1. A New JournoList Thread on the 2008 Election.

The Daily Caller has yet another JournoList thread up on its website. Members are expressing their strong emotions and expectations for the future on the day Barack Obama was elected president.

Though some of the comments on Nov. 3 and 4 look a bit silly in retrospect, it really was a big deal that this country elected an African-American president. Indeed, besides having a smarter president who was capable of delivering a great speech, the chief benefits I saw at the time were that (1) Obama’s election proved that this country’s views on race had improved markedly, and (2) it was reasonable to hope that Obama would usher in a new, post-racial era.

So I don’t find most of the early gushing comments in the JournoList thread at all out-of-line. But there was one by Spencer Ackerman that jumped off the page. Adam Serwer of the American Prospect had posted a link to an article he had just written on the historic nature of Obama’s election. Ackerman’s response:

Goddamn, did an Obama speechwriter ghost that post? That’s pitch-perfect, Adam. Take a bow.

Just imagine: here’s a journalist who thinks it’s a GOOD THING for another journalist to have written an editorial that read as if it were ghost-written by an Obama speechwriter.

[As the win sinks in, on Nov. 7 the Journolist comments turn nasty. Ackerman again:

Let’s just throw Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the fuck up, as with most bullies.

And Eric Alterman, who is described as the author of “What Liberal Media?” writes:

Fucking Nascar retards]

This brings up a problem with tarring participants in JournoList with the opinions of its kookier members. Is everyone who has ever posted a comment on a website responsible for the least responsible comments made on those sites: think of the range of comments at Democratic Underground, Free Republic or Daily Kos — or even Althouse or the Volokh Conspiracy?

When reading further revelations from JournoList, one must be careful not to attribute the opinions of one individual to another — I would hope that a majority of JournoList members would not think Ackerman’s comment to be a compliment — though it would often be fair to characterize the general drift of the comments in a thread.

2. Nate Silver’s Life on J-List.

Nate Silver has a post on 538 (tip to Instapundit and Legal Insurrection) that reviews what he considers the two most questionable comments he made on JournoList. Both strike me as unobjectionable, but judge for yourself.

Obviously, Silver is enormously talented (which everyone should already know). But I for one really appreciate his taking this JournoList issue seriously and wanting to explain his posted comments that he thinks that some might consider conspiratorial or inappropriate (I don’t).

Kudos to Silver.

UPDATE: In the hour after posting I made a few small changes in the early text and added the second Ackerman quote and the Alterman quote.

2D UPDATE: Emphasizing my point about not attributing the views of one JournoLister to another, Jonathan Chait writes of Ackerman: “Ackerman was in the habit of writing wild, bombastic things that people usually didn’t feel like responding to.”

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