July 24, 2010

Peter Orszag: Another Journolist Member With Government Ties? Klein Says Not

journolistPrevious NewsBusters posts Friday afternnoon provided readers with a list of 65 known participants in the now-infamous Journolist (via Melissa Clouthier) and the special case of Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden’s Economic Adviser (via Lachian Markey).

(Aside: Does the fact that Biden has his own econ adviser explain why what the Vice President says in public about the economy is so often of sync with the rest of the President’s peeps?)

Here’s another very special name that could (emphasis: could) be added to the (Journo)List: the soon-departing White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.

An Investors Business Daily editorial Friday identified the existence of Orszag’s involvement as a given without providing any specifics:

As it turns out, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag also was a participant in the online group.

Nothing wrong with talking to government officials — unless you’re doing so with a secret agenda, selling partisan views as objective media coverage to an unsuspecting public.

Contrary to claims now being made, JournoList wasn’t an innocent Web tool, a harmless forum for discussion. It was an organized effort by one party and its sympathizers in the liberal press to secretly influence public debate and policy.

Orszag’s association with Klein’s effort was noted seventeen months ago — by head Journolister Ezra Klein himself at the American Prospect (HT Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom). Retrospective comic relief in the excerpt that follows is included at no extra charge.

But carefully note that in terms of the matter at hand, Klein does not definitively describe Orszag as a list participant, and most of the others Klein identifies as having “helped” are not on Clouthier’s list as it currently exists (number tags correspond to the person’s presence on Ms. Clouthier’s list):

… The work of this site has always been to illuminate standard political reporting with expert policy commentary. In that, I’ve been helped by the many experts who have adopted the medium as their own: Mark Thoma, Brad DeLong (15), Paul Krugman (8), Matthew Holt, Peter Orszag, Andrew Gelman, Larry Bartels, Dani Rodrik, John Sides, among others. As a journalist, it’s hard to always know who to call or which questions to ask. The joy of those blogs is that I don’t have to guess what experts think is important: They simply explain what they think is important and I can use, or follow-up on, the information.

As for sinister implications, is it “secret?” No. Is it off-the-record? Yes. The point is to create a space where experts feel comfortable offering informal analysis and testing out ideas. Is it an ornate temple where liberals get together to work out “talking points?” Of course not. Half the membership would instantly quit if anything like that emerged. There are no government or campaign employees on the list.

22%, or two of Klein’s nine “helpers,” are known Journolist members. We don’t know about the other seven. Clouthier’s list of 65 only constitutes about 16% of the listserv’s estimated 400 total participants.

In an open tweet to Pajamas Media’s Ed Driscoll at about noon on Friday, Klein claimed that that “Orszag was never a member. That list of expert bloggers I liked wasn’t a list of Jlist members.”

Driscoll’s pointed response:

So release the full list of members, and let us know who was. Shouldn’t President Obama’s “Non-Official Campaign” staff be even more open and transparent than the administration that it continues to serve?


The possibility also clearly remains that IBD is in possession of information I’m not aware of.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.



  1. I don’t know if Orszag was an official member or not, but the fact that Orszag was such an inspiration to Klein’s effort is just another confirmation of what type of people Obama is putting into his administration.

    Kleins “it’s not a secret” remark does not hold water. Listservs are closed off to non-members of that particular list, and to become a member you have to personally request membership from the list moderator. And if it’s no secret, why are so many of those involved saying they won’t talk anymore, and why isn’t Klein releasing the archive that will show the proper “context”?

    Kleins ahead of time announcement was a cynical attempt to not look sinister. Sure, you announce the project (because hiding the project and then having it found out would be an even worse disaster) but you close it off to only a select inner circle. Thus you make a shallow appearance of transparency, when in fact what you are really up to is still locked off.

    And there is no context that can save them. Their comments are so unambiguous, bold-faced and crystal clear in their language that there is no “context” that can save them.

    Comment by zf — July 24, 2010 @ 2:21 am

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom_Blumer, HH. HH said: Peter Orszag: Another Journolist Member With Government Ties? Klein Says Not: http://bit.ly/ba2ZQ3 [...]

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