When it come to accusations of liberal bias, the mainstream media comprise a fervent shovel brigade, digging themselves ever deeper into denial that their left-leaning politics influence the events they cover.
Even when an ear-splitting whistle was blown by former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg with his fascinating book Bias in 2001, most of the media would have none of it. They refused to admit liberal bias among the press, or that its members conspire to put a liberal bent on the news.
But now there is a howitzer-sized smoking gun -- called JournoList.
JournoList was an e-mail "listserv" started by Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein in 2007 as a place where journalists could gather online to discuss topics related to their work.
But last June, e-mails from JournoList surfaced in which Post reporter Dave Weigel -- the paper's beat writer for the conservative movement -- savaged the very conservatives he covered. The same day Weigel resigned in embarrassment from the Post over his e-mails, Klein shut down JournoList.
But if that's the voice of just one reporter, what have the others been saying?
Over the past several days, the public now has found out, in vivid detail.
The website The Daily Caller has released excerpts from many JournoList e-mail threads in which reporters and editors are caught discussing news events and how to present them to the public with a liberal spin.
In April 2008, when the racially toxic sermons of President Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, came to light, Spencer Ackerman of The Washington Independent offered this plan to attack Obama's opponents as racists:
"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them -- Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares -- and call them racists. ... This makes them 'sputter' with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."
In the hours after John McCain's announcement of Sarah Palin as his 2008 presidential running mate, the conversation tone on JournoList veered into what The Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong has called "more campaign headquarters than newsroom."
Daniel Levy of the Century Foundation threw out some hints to sink the McCain-Palin campaign -- "scare people about having this woefully inexperienced, no foreign policy/national security/right-wing (Christian) wing-nut a heartbeat away ... bang away at McCain's age making this unusually significant ... ."
There even was a debate on the listserv about how the government could shut down Fox News!
It's shocking to actually read the back-and-forth conspiring in the e-mails about how to boost the liberal agenda. But longtime observers of the media are not that surprised. The bias has played out before our very eyes for years, but left-wing stalwarts refused to see it -- or pretended not to.
And now, here it all is, in black and white.
Anyone out there still questioning why public trust in mainstream media is eroding need look no further than JournoList -- where journalists abandoned neutrality and deliberately conspired to harm the conservative movement.