Following Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel's resignation, talk of the now-ceased Journolist -- the infamous email listserv from which Weigel's off-record political musings were pulled -- quieted to a low hum. Until Tuesday, that is, when smug pundit Tucker Carlson's website The Daily Caller started publishing more Journolist emails.
Tucker Carlson and Caller writer Jonathan Strong were accused of removing the emails from their context to preserve a sensational, conspiratorial narrative of other journalists trying to control their own news narratives. The emails presented in full, it's been argued, would allow everyone to see through Carlson and Strong's selective narrative. Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent emailed with Carlson today, who noted that he would not, in fact, be publishing the full emails.
It's not the only controversy surrounding the Caller's publication of these emails, as Ezra Klein -- the listserv's founder -- made his sole "outing" of Journolist members yesterday morning, with the public revelation that a guy named Gautham Nagesh -- one of The Daily Caller's launch reporters -- was also on Journolist, something Carlson never noted previous to Nagesh's public outing (so either he didn't know, or didn't say anything) or since then. This is in addition to the well-established (and as of today, documented) fact that Carlson tried to get on Journolist and was rejected a few weeks before The Daily Caller first started printing Journolist emails. TDC columnist Myra Adams noted in a recent post about The Daily Caller's coverage of Journolist, "Now thanks to The Daily Caller, truth has come from darkness." Except for the parts Carlson is okay with keeping out of the light, like his own site's involvement?
I emailed Carlson to ask him about this. The following was our on-record exchange, in full. Carlson has yet to get back to my last inquiry, which has The Daily Caller getting the date of some of Dave Weigel's emails -- many of which he wrote before he was ever employed by the Washington Post -- incorrect, a fact that has yet to be amended on The Daily Caller.
Nothing has been edited or changed:
On Jul 21, 2010, at 8:50 PM, "Kamer, Foster" wrote:
Hey Tucker -
Request for quote:
Why haven't any of the TDC stories on Journolist disclosed either TDC launch reporter Gautham Nagesh's involvement in Journolist or the well-documented fact that you asked to be a part of Journolist? It would seem like a pretty large conflict of interest to have a former reporter on there, or if anything, an obvious tie to the leaker, possibly. Shouldn't this be disclosed?
Thanks for taking the time,
On Jul 21, 2010, at 10:50 PM, Tucker Carlson wrote:
How is either fact a "conflict of interest"? Both have been reported. Neither one is embarrassing to us I don't think. Gautham worked for us briefly but no longer does. As far as I know he never said anything especially interesting on Journolist, though I'd happily report it if he did. We are hardly trying to protect him, if that's what you're implying.
As for my (unsuccessful) request to get on Journolist, of course. I was interested in what goes on there. That's why we did the series in the first place.
Please tell me if I'm missing your point, because these questions seem sort of dumb.
On Jul 21, 2010, at 11:04 PM, "Kamer, Foster" wrote:
Hey Tucker -
Thanks for getting back to me.
Sure, both facts have now been reported, after you ran the series, neither on your site. That's a failure to disclose firsthand participation in this story. Your (attempted) involvement in Journolist could easily be construed as a motivating factor/bias. Ganesh has still, at this point, worked for you longer than he's been at his new job, and essentially helped TDC open up shop as part of your launch staff. Any number of conclusions could be reached not so much by Ganesh's involvement with Journolist while working under you so much as the fact that nothing - still - has been noted of your former writer being a participant this target of TDC. It appears as if TDC's readers are being kept from knowing that one (or two!) participants of Journolist were (or are) at TDC, which would call into question your outlet's rep as the kind of place that'd have nothing to do with Journolist but report on it. You don't think, at the very least, your readers are getting the short end of the stick in this regard?
Thanks again for taking the time,
On Jul 21, 2010, at 11:15 PM, Tucker Carlson wrote:
So the idea is, I commissioned a hit piece on Journolist because my feelings were hurt when they wouldn't let me in? Come on. Run with that if you want. I'm not even going to argue the point.
As for Gautham's participation, I'm not hiding it or ashamed of it, nor do I see why I would be. Again, if you have evidence he ever said anything interesting please tell me. We'd do a story on it tomorrow.
On Jul 22, 2010, at 12:16 AM, "Kamer, Foster" wrote:
I wouldn't go that far, but I would say it's a pretty pointed omission of fact across the board, the various ways it could be interpreted aside. Again: You were involved, one of your staffers was involved, yet nothing on TDC about either of those bits! You think both are truly, completely without any topicality to the matter at hand? It seems like the kind of thing that would maybe convolute or dampen the excitement for TDC readers if disclosed, is all.
One last question: Why was there no correction/strikethrough on TDC's initial piece on Weigel's "MSM" remarks? The timeline you guys present would make it seem like Weigel said these particular things under the employ of the Washington Post, though as it's been noted, that's clearly not the case:
Carlson posted a note today on The Daily Caller noting how happy he's been to work on the Journolist leak story. In it, he addressed none of the above. Lesson learned: Dates mean nothing, readers only get the part of the story that doesn't involve those publishing it, and former writers of Carlson's are a juicy headline away from being subject to The Daily Caller's selective narrative.
Meanwhile, Ezra Klein's leaking of Ganesh's name seems particularly out of character, almost as if he were trying to express something besides a mere conflict-of-interest (which only becomes a better story once Carlson obscures this fact on his site, which he has). We remain particularly interested in who's leaking these emails, and while we won't be conducting a witch hunt any time soon, I'm all ears if you know anything, and you may email me off-the-record -- actually off-the-record, and not what some of DC's more unsavory types are practicing these days -- at any time.
Update: Ezra Klein just published Tucker Carlson's attempts to sleaze his way onto Journolist. Epic.