THE BLOG
08/02/2010 10:38 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Big Journalism? No, Another Phony Breitbart Beatdown

It's been a while since I've been called nasty names in public or accused of ill-defined but dangerous conspiracies -- which is a shame because it can be so much fun! Once, for example, the conservative crackpot David Horowitz (whom I've never met) told the Boston Globe I was a "hard core Marxist propagandist." Then there was the time South Africa's apartheid-era Defense Minister, Magnus Malan, denounced our weekly public television series South Africa Now as a Communist plot hatched in Mozambique...

That's why it was so thrilling to learn I'd just joined Shirley Sherrod as an actor -- albeit in an exceedingly minor role, alas -- in another gussied-up, phony "journalism" beatdown by the conservative crackpot Andrew Breitbart. The news came in the form of an email "heads up" from Tracy Van Slyke, Project Director of The Media Consortium, a professional network of progressive media outlets of which my company Globalvision is a "card-carrying," dues-paying member. Turns out that a hit job about The Consortium had been posted on one of Breitbart's web sites, comically called Big Journalism.

The flimsy and inaccurate piece (hyperbolically headlined "JournoList, Shame of a Nation: The People Make the Party") demanded to know:

"Has a shadowy gang of left-wing journalists and intellectuals been plotting to manipulate the news cycle?"

It also tried to smear the Consortium, its directors and its members as some sort of coordinating arm for JournoList, the now-defunct, mostly liberal journalism Listserv that has become a right wing bete noir of late.

To no one's surprise, there is some overlap between Consortium members and those on the JournoList. (Full Disclosure: I was never "Listed.") News of the dual memberships -- a meaningless factoid -- was reported rather breathlessly on the Breitbart site:

"The list of those identified as former members of the group is now up to more than 150 names, out of 400 in all. Nearly a quarter of those individuals were connected with another media organization called the Media Consortium."

Further, the Breitbart post reported, the goal of the seemingly shadowy Consortium was to "push stories into the mainstream to create change."

Well, duh... That's why I paid to join in the first place!

The final sleazily suggestive "revelation" by author John Sexton was "how often the Media Consortium linked" to JournoList founder Ezra Klein's "work for the American Prospect (his job before joining the Washington Post)."

Again, this is hardly surprising: The American Prospect is also a member of the Media Consortium, which was set up to help promote work by media outlets like The American Prospect! If it hadn't linked to Klein's work, it wouldn't be fulfilling its very purpose...

Nevertheless, to Sexton the links are proof of vague conspiracy -- or at least "countenancing collusion," whatever that means:

"Given this chummy history and the fact that, when forming JournoList, Klein invited all three staff members of the Consortium to join, it seems reasonable to conclude that he was both familiar with and sympathetic to their goals. Klein may not have countenanced open media collusion on JournoList, but he certainly seems to have welcomed lots of people who did."

In fairness -- which is something Breitbart & his minions fail to extend to their subjects -- Sexton did add in conclusion that:

"In the case of Consortium staff, it was quite literally their job. Anyway, it's all pretty much laid out on the organization's web site..."

Right, like I said! So will somebody tell me what's really the purpose of that site Andrew Breitbart laughably labeled Big Journalism?