Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The vast whatever-wing conspiracy

Back in the 1990s, I attended a few meetings of the Fabiani Society in New York City. It was (and still may be) a regular gathering, ironically named after Mark Fabiani, the Clinton-administration official who coined the term "vast right-wing conspiracy" as well as a riff on Fabian socialists. As such, it attracted folks who considered themselves right-of-center in Big Apple terms, or were at least willing to be seen with those sorts of folks. That meant everybody from gay, dope-smoking libertarians to Wall Street Journal editorial-page types to Manhattan Institute staffers.

New York City's "Right" is a weird place, including folks who would be considered fairly lefty other places, anti-state types who wandered in for the drinks, Giuliani-ish law-and-order types glaring at the anti-state types, and aristocratic Tories dressed for a nice dinner circa 1890.

That's probably about as well organized as the "vast right-wing conspiracy" ever got, though repeated efforts have been made over the years to support libertarian journalists, conservative academics, and bloggers who are willing to say nice things about limited government and low taxes (hi, guys!).

Those efforts have certainly been inclusive, since they've invited me along to a few.

Maybe the Left has been doing a better job of it all these years, even while pointing fingers at everybody else. They've certainly been quieter -- at least, until recently. From Politico:
For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList. ...

One byproduct of that secrecy: For all its high-profile membership — which includes Nobel Prize-winning columnist Paul Krugman; staffers from Newsweek, POLITICO, Huffington Post, The New Republic, The Nation and The New Yorker; policy wonks, academics and bloggers such as Klein and Matthew Yglesias — JList itself has received almost no attention from the media.
There's nothing necessarily sinister about all of this -- like-minded people have always banded together for support, to share expertise and to use each other as resources. But the secrecy of the group and the inclusion on it of a lot of big-hitter names make JournoList the closest thing to a "vast conspiracy" that has come along so far.

It's just not right-wing.



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