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Fishbowl 5: The Daily Caller’s Journolist Dispatcher Jonathan Strong

jstrong2.jpg The Daily Caller‘s Jonathan Strong is a really busy reporter these days sorting out all those e-mails from Journolist. He took time out to offer his thoughts on Journolist, Journalism and where this charged story will go next. Asked if he was surprised by what he read on Journolist, he replied, “I was shocked.”

Socially, he explained, he’s not too worried about being viewed as a pariah considering he’s not that into D.C.’s journalism scene as some journalists are. A native of Clifton, Va., Strong has spent a good chunk of time in Orange County, Calif. with close relatives there.

Since living in Washington, he has worked for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) as a “low-level” aide who gave tours and wrote letters. He also worked for Inside Washington’s Inside EPA, a newsletter covering “policy minutia.” Though he says he’d never want to be on a list like Journolist, he understands why some might: “Some of the straight news reporters almost never posted. They probably just didn’t turn down the access because they were getting good information. Other people had friends on there. Other people thought it would be a good way to network, to shape the news cycle.”

1. How’s the hate mail – are you getting a boatload of it these days? I haven gotten from readers all positive e-mails so far. There are some people who have sent along some concerns that they have, but overall, the reaction has been really positive. Really? Well, on Twitter you have a debate on what’s in the e-mails. If you see [The Atlantic's] Andrew Sullivan, I think that that is the take that is where I’m coming from personally – as a journalist your responsibility is to be independent. Tucker [Carlson] takes a lot of the fire just because he’s the front man.

2. What are your personal beliefs about Journolist? Do you think such a thing ought to exist and would you ever be a part a part of something like it knowing what you know? I can’t imagine myself being a part of that. I’m kind of on the other end [of things]. I get uncomfortable with any kind of cozying or any semblance of it. If I’m talking to a source and they say, ‘Here’s how you should write the story.’ Even that sentence makes me uncomfortable. I’m writing about journalists now, but the last story I wrote was [RNC Chairman] Michael Steele and the voyeur expense – so I go after both sides pretty equally so to speak.

3. What do you make of some Journolister’s assertions that Journolist is off the record and shouldn’t be for public consumption? That’s the deepest hypocrisy. People who are journalists it’s their job to make what is said privately public. When it’s turned around on them, they have a different view of it. I don’t have a lot of sympathy. I know Dave Weigel didn’t hold it against me. On a human level, these are colleagues. It’s a sensitive thing. I’m not a media reporter, it’s not my beat. But it’s something that happened that came along and I think it’s a really important story.

4. Do you believe you’ll be the most hated reporter in Washington? Do you worry about retaliation or someone hacking into your e-mail? I think they’ll continue to hate Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News people more than me. Not everyone in Washington was on Journolist. [In regards to people hacking into his e-mail): The thought has crossed my mind, yeah… (Strong would not discuss any precautions he has taken to safeguard his own e-mails.)

5. So far, The Daily Caller has run four installments of Journolist stories. Can we expect more? There are more stories to come. There were moments people showed integrity or good will or winsomeness. There will be a heroes of Journalist story.

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