JournoList 2: the TownHouse Listserv
From my original post at Big Journalism
It was a great week watching the left squirm with the Daily Caller’s release of the JournoList private emails. I bet a lot of you lefties had a tough time sleeping due to stress and trying to remember just what you wrote in the emails, eh?
But let’s forget about the JournoList for a moment and turn our eyes to another listserv out there in Google. I’m referring to Matt Stoller’s private, invitation-only TownHouse listserv. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Stoller, he’s a progressive blogger-turned-senior policy advisor for Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). Now we all know what we can do besides teach with a history degree, but I digress.
According to SourceWatch:
Townhouse provides the online equivalent of a political backroom for Democratic Party-aligned advocates, consultants and lobbyists. On this closed listserv selected liberals — including bloggers Glenn Greenwald, Markos Moulitsas and Atrios; film maker Robert Greenwald; leaders of liberal think tanks such as Robert Borosage of Campaign for America’s Future; Wes Boyd, Tom Matzzie and other leaders of MoveOn; and other Democratic campaign and PR consultants — can confidentially discuss and debate their issues, strategies and tactics.
An article on Salon reports: “Townhouse began after the disastrous 2004 election, when young Democratic activists began meeting on Sundays for beers at Townhouse Tavern, a subterranean watering hole in Washington’s Dupont Circle neighborhood…
Through it all, Stoller controlled the membership. If you stayed in his graces, and met the group’s qualifications, you got yourself a ticket to both the electronic and the alcoholic conversations. At all times, the whole enterprise was declared off the record, to be spoken of in hushed tones only with others who knew the proverbial secret handshake. … the public introduction of Townhouse now presents the big-name bloggers and online activists with a transparency dilemma. On the one hand, bloggers like to talk of themselves as a democratic, grass-roots movement. (Moulitsas often conflates himself with the entire ‘people-powered movement’ in his blog posts.) On the other hand, the blogosphere boasts an emerging leadership elite, which is increasingly profiting on its insider status in both the Democratic Party and among one another.”
The TownHouse listserv comes up in conversation every so often, but is largely ignored. Politico has mentioned TownHouse in the past, but in casual, nonchalant terms. But then there’s this nugget from the health care debate:
Indeed, his senior policy adviser Matt Stoller (one of the most prominent liberal bloggers) sent out an e-mail with video of Grayson’s floor speech to the progressive Townhouse listserv, according to a Democratic operative who received the e-mail.
In the e-mail, Stoller argues that Grayson was setting an example for how Democrats should be messaging the health care debate.
What this tells us that the list is still active in late 2009 and is still shaping the media’s reporting. Stoller, who is paid with public dollars and works for Grayson, is contacting the private TownHouse group to help the left spin stories and stay on message–a listserv he created and approved all the membership.
With the embarrassing emails from the JournoList, I’d really love to see the TownHouse emails, wouldn’t you? Especially the ones about Sarah Palin. I bet they’re even better than the JournoList emails.