Tuesday, March 6, 2012

White House 'shill' and Washington Post blogger duck questions about Townhouse

Two of the most powerful Democrats in the world called Sandra Fluke - a 30-year-old activist who chose to study law at Georgetown in order to protest their birth control health coverage policy - because radio host Rush Limbaugh crudely compared her to a prostitute or slut.

Many conservatives - and at least one liberal - believe Fluke is a plant, and her activism is being coordinated by the White House, progressive activism groups and partisan blogs like Media Matters. NBC News falsely claimed Fluke was only 23-years-old and online liberals refer to her as a "college student", when she already graduated from college and is an adult attending law school. President Obama reportedly told Fluke her parents should be proud of her, which seems to be an odd thing to say to a 30-year-old woman.

Both President Barack Obama and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have many things in common, but one particular thing in common is that they both have employed Jesse C. Lee to work with liberal bloggers and online journalists. Mr. Lee used to belong to a secretive liberal mailing list called Townhouse which reportedly had hundreds of members.

As Sam Stein reported for The Huffington Post in May of 2011:

The Obama administration has created and staffed a new position tucked inside their communications shop for helping coordinate rapid response to unfavorable stories and fostering and improving relations with the progressive online community.

"This week, Jesse Lee will move from the new media department into a role in the communications department as Director of Progressive Media & Online Response," read an internal memo from Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, provided to The Huffington Post. "For the last two years, Jesse has often worn two hats working in new media and serving as the White House's liaison with the progressive media and online community. Starting this week, Jesse will take on the second role full time working on outreach, strategy and response."

The post is a new one for this White House. Rapid response has been the purview of the Democratic National Committee (and will continue to be). Lee's hire, however, suggests that a portion of it will now be handled from within the administration. It also signals that the White House will be adopting a more aggressive engagement in the online world in the months ahead.

How many folks working in the White House belonged to Townhouse, Journolist or other possible liberal listservs, in which they secretly plot to push memes to counter the GOP? And how come nobody seems to care about this coordination between liberal politicians, liberal activists, liberal journalists and liberal bloggers, which is similar in some ways to the Pentagon analysts scandal during the Bush Administration. These days, activism and journalism seem to be one and the same, which means that there is more of a chance that newspapers could be publishing propaganda instead of facts. Most members I know who belonged to Townhouse and/or Journolist care more about their team winning than uncovering the truth.

Huffington Post's article noted at the bottom, "Disclosure: Lee is a personal friend of Stein."

On Friday, March 2nd, I asked Jesse C. Lee, the White House Director of Progressive Media & Online Response, in a tweet, "Can I send you some questions about emails you sent to liberal Townhouse listserv when you worked for Ex-Speaker @NancyPelosi?"

I then tweeted to Greg Sargent, who blogs for The Plumline at The Washington Post, "If GOP Speaker flack blasted a RW blog 8 minutes after it was published to secret conservative listserv would it be a story?"

Both ignored me.

This is a Townhouse email from Jesse Lee, written on November 9, 2007, while he worked for then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Subject: TPM: Presto! CNN Edits Pelosi's Quote To Make Her Say Dem Congress "Hasn't Done Anything"
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2007 19:08:24 -0500
From: "Lee, Jesse"

Doesn’t get much more blatant or deliberate than this…


I sent the following email to Sargent last Friday.

Also ignored.


I'm hoping you can answer a few questions about the day future Obama appointee Jesse Lee blasted your TPM article to Townhouse when he worked for then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

1) Did you send this story to Pelosi's office before you published?

2) Did Pelosi's office tip you off to the story in the first place?

3) Do you think it would be a story if this were about a Republican Speaker's spokesman sending a blog blasting MSNBC or CNN to conservative bloggers nine minutes after it was published, if you don't think this is one now?

4) Do you think it's wrong to use stuff from secret listserv to report on how White House shill coordinates with bloggers? [Daily Kos diary: Watch out for the White House shills]

5) Do you agree that the CNN edit was "blatant or deliberate"?

6) How often do you communicate with Mr. Lee and other White House flacks?

7) Did you send a thank you email to Jesse for blasting this?

8) Did TPM get a traffic surge from this? Do you remember if other bloggers linked up from the Townhouse email?

9) Did you ever think about quoting Lee when he editorialized in Townhouse emails or feel guilty for not being able to do it?


10) Strange wording here: "But Pelosi actually said that she was unhappy with Congress because we haven't done anything to end the Iraq War."

What do you mean "we"? I mean your article - to some readers - might look like you wrote a confusing sentence with a "she" turning into a "we" in order to make a "creative" edit of a quote in a "blatant or deliberate" manner or um maybe someone in Congress wrote that line and you forgot to change the "we" into "they". Funny thing is though in my opinion you were correct to use "we" since you're a partisan hack who carefully criticizes Democrats now and then to pretend you are objective, like everyone else these days.

Full disclosure: Raw Story is suing me for $500,000 for reporting on the coordination among most Dem organizations and - apparently (should i congratulate you guys for this?) every single left-leaning online reporter currently working today.

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