In my job as media blogger, I often point the finger at journalists and media outlets involved in wrongdoing. That’s a lot of fun, but it cuts two ways: Whenever I behave in a scandalous matter, I must disclose my own bad deeds.
And so, a full disclosure: I am a member of the ”Daily Caller 10.” This is a group of journalists identified in the new Daily Caller investigation of Media Matters for America, a left-leaning outfit that monitors the occasional excess of the conservative media. The story called out by name nine reporters who “took” or “picked up” the work of Media Matters.
From the Daily Caller story:
“The entire progressive blogosphere picked up our stuff,” says a Media Matters source, “from Daily Kos to Salon. Greg Sargent [of the Washington Post] will write anything you give him. He was the go-to guy to leak stuff.”
“If you can’t get it anywhere else, Greg Sargent’s always game,” agreed another source with firsthand knowledge.
Reached by phone, Sargent declined to comment.
“The HuffPo guys were good, Sam Stein and Nico [Pitney],” remembered one former staffer. “The people at Huffington Post were always eager to cooperate, which is no surprise given [Media Matters head David Brock’s] long history with Arianna [Huffington].
“Jim Rainey at the LA Times took a lot of our stuff,” the staffer continued. “So did Joe Garofoli at the San Francisco Chronicle. We’ve pushed stories to Eugene Robinson and E.J. Dionne [at the Washington Post]. Brian Stelter at the New York Times was helpful.”
“Ben Smith [formerly of Politico, now at BuzzFeed.com] will take stories and write what you want him to write,” explained the former employee, whose account was confirmed by other sources. Staffers at Media Matters “knew they could dump stuff to Ben Smith, they knew they could dump it at Plum Line [Greg Sargent’s Washington Post blog], so that’s where they sent it.”
Smith, who refused to comment on the substance of these claims, later took to Twitter to say that he has been critical of Media Matters.
After reading those words, I’ve spent many hours of quiet agony. These nine journalists, after all, have had to bear the brunt of this scandal without my solidarity. It’s unfair of me, I decided, to allow my peers to absorb all this public humiliation while I sit in my cube, immune from consequence.
And so, my formal statement of guilt:
* Like the nine journalists above, I have received e-mails from Media Matters for America, a liberal outfit.
* I have, on many, many occasions, read part or all of those e-mails. To my credit, I have left some unopened.
* After reading part or all of these e-mails, I have on occasion given some consideration of their contents.
* On certain occasions, I have gone so far as to click on links contained in these e-mails.
* On other occasions (deep breath here), I have linked to material produced by Media Matters.
* And on some occasions, I have gone to the tawdry extreme of writing an e-mail back to Media Matters. After the outfit did an extensive study of press coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline, for instance, I sent an e-mail to Media Matters that read:
Just put it into a post. Lotta work behind this.
I apologize to my employers, my readers and the public at large for receiving these e-mails. There is no room in journalism for such conduct.