A Media Trackers open records request has revealed a secret Google group aimed at helping liberals influence public policy by driving the media narrative.

“Gamechanger Salon” is a (now not-so-) secret Google group with a membership of over 1000 left wing influencers. Media Trackers discovered the group after filing an open records request concerning a professor and activist at the University of Wisconsin. Members include journalists from outlets like the Huffington Post, MSNBC, ThinkProgress, and Media Matters, and activists from groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Change.org, Planned Parenthood, and the AFL-CIO.

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 11.56.11 AM

In 2010, Legal Insurrection reported on the first “Journolist,” a similar group used to stack the deck against Republicans and conservatives:

For those of you who haven’t been here long, the JournoList was an email list serve organized prior to the 2008 election by Ezra Klein, now one of the lead writers at The Washington Post, in which various young bucks (uh oh, is that a dog whistle) and doe in the emerging melding of blogging and journalism traded various strategies.

Another of the JournoLists was Greg Sargent, one of WaPo’s lead bloggers and someone who helps funnel Democratic talking points into the mainstream media. Nate Silver, now of The New York Times, was on the list as well (although I will say I have found his work at The NY Times to be quite good), as was Ben Smith (formerly Politico, now BuzzFeed Politics) and several others at Politico.

Many of the JournoLists were rewarded after the election with access to the White House.

Although it’s natural for opinion journalists to share stories and theories with each other, Gamechanger Salon members appear to implement comprehensive strategies to completely control the discussion of particular topics in the mainstream media. Via Media Trackers:

Amanda Terkel, the “Senior Political Reporter and Politics Managing Editor at The Huffington Post,” is a member of Gamechanger Salon along with The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, Ryan Grim.

In mid-July, Terkel and Grim jointly wrote a piece about a leftwing effort to push Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) to run for president. The pair of reporters heavily quoted Erica Sagrans, a fellow member of Gamechanger Salon and leading organizer of the “Ready For Warren” effort, and cited Billy Wimsatt’s support for the project. Wimsatt’s work as founder of Gamechanger Salon and the reporters’ own membership in the group, along with Sagrans’ membership, went unreported.

In a subsequent piece Terkel again reported on the effort to recruit Warren for a presidential bid, and a previous piece by Grim contrasted Warren with presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

It’s not necessarily unethical for opinion journalists (notice my repeated use of the word “opinion”) to do this. The existence of Gamechanger Salon does, however, prove a point conservatives have made again and again about left wing bias in the mainstream media: it’s real, it’s spectacular, and it’s an extremely effective way of making sure right wing viewpoints stay out of sight.

Ethical quibbles aside (and I certainly have “ethical quibbles” with actual “reporters” colluding with liberals activists and calling it “news,”) this should act as an important lesson for conservatives who choose to jump down into the trenches and fight back the progressive narrative. The left wing of the American political spectrum is shameless. They’re not just messaging–they’re marketing, and it’s working out extremely well for them.

The advantage these journalists have is control over the media outlets average Americans read most. Our advantage, courtesy of Wisconsin open records laws, is that we now have a better idea of how they build messages with staying power. We can use this knowledge to both improve on their methods, and anticipate the connections they’ll use to make their arguments more persuasive.

In other words, we no longer have an excuse to not know what’s coming.

You can see the Gamechanger Salon membership list and policy manual here.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.