Best of the Web–Wall Street Journal Today

The Wall Street Journal‘s email today wrote a great summation of the silliness of all the conspiracy theories out there, beginning with Palin/Obama loonies:

Corrupt vs. Insane
The latest “Journolist” revelation is a tranche of emails from the ideologically exclusive listserv, covering the period Aug. 30 through Sept. 1, 2008, and discussing what The Daily Caller’s headline calls “Palin’s Downs child.” That would be Trig Palin, then-Gov. Sarah Palin’s then-infant son.

The thread begins with a link to a post on Angry Left website, since deleted, which apparently put foward the bizarre hypothesis that the governor faked her pregnancy and Trig was actually Mrs. Palin’s granddaughter.

At the risk of damning them with faint praise, most of the journolists participating in the discussion turn out to be not totally insane on the subject. “This is one hell of a whacky conspiracy theory,” says Ryan Donmoyer, a news reporter for Bloomberg who has also been known to liken Tea Party goers to Nazis. “I too agree it’s probably best left alone.”

Donmoyer adds, in what we surmise is an allusion to the “birther” conspiracy theories: “As long as it’s in the rumor stage it rivals the disinformation disseminated about Obama–and neither is useful for the public discourse.”

So far as we know, no journolist touched the rumor publicly. But The Atlantic Monthly did. One of its writers has been flogging it for nearly two years now. He weighed in yesterday, charging the journolists with corruption:

If you want to know why the allegedly liberal media didn’t touch–and still won’t touch–this story, look no further. It has nothing to do with the facts, and everything to do with their politics. Notice the core modus operandi of the political operative, not the journalist. When dealing with a story: first ask yourself not if it is true but whether the outcome benefits your side.

In support of this assertion, The Atlantic quotes an email from Katha Pollitt of The Nation:

I like what you said about this possibly being a dirty trick, intended to blow up in our faces. so let’s just leave it alone.

About a year ago, after we wrote a column refuting the “birther” nonsense, an acquaintance who is a Republican activist professed to agree with us on the ground that “it doesn’t help us” to raise the question. But our acquaintance, who remained unconvinced about the president’s birthplace, missed the point. Our objection to the birther stuff has nothing to do with its political consequences. Whoever it helps or hurts, it is objectionable because it is false and insane.

Likewise with the Trig-truther crackpottery. It is a small credit to the journolists that they had the good sense to avoid airing this preposterous rumor in public, even if for corrupt reasons. It is a huge discredit to The Atlantic Monthly that it continues to propagate it.