I agree completely with everything Ramesh Ponnuru says here.
I am having trouble seeing why I should be worked up by the idea that some liberal opinion journalists, policy experts, and MSM reporters maintain an off-the-record email discussion group. Yes, the inclusion of the MSM types is a telling indicator of their actual political sympathies—but we already have a surfeit of evidence for that. Yes, there is some risk that participation in this private conversation will lead its participants to groupthink. But presumably it will have this effect primarily on participants who only socialize with like-minded people and only read ideologically congenial material. Even in those cases, it seems likely to be a relatively unimportant contributor to their closed-mindedness. (The reporters could just make phone calls to like-minded people on their own, right?)
The idea that large-scale off-the-record discussions between like-minded journalists, policy analysts, and advocates are conspiratorial or problematic is rather amusing to me. I’ve spent a bit of time at off-the-record confabs, and let me assure you, what happens at them is almost never conspiratorial (except in the broadest sense that any sort of coordination is a conspiracy) and certainly not worrying — usually, it’s fractious, a little bit boring, mostly an excuse for people to self-promote, riff off of each other, and grouse and gab with friends and colleagues. People go for the free catered food and the company, not for marching orders. I imagine the Journolist is fairly similar, except without the catering. Lots of people on the right and the left, however, persist in confusing this sort of friendly information sharing with some sort of nefarious, mastermind-driven coordination. In my experience, it’s anything but.