David Dayen defends the list here:
Read some of the avatars of liberal opinion, particularly those online writers in the DC corridor, and the same names always crop up. Everybody links to each other’s posts.
And that of course is the problem. Group think, little Versailles, the Petite Trianon if you will.
Ezra Klein explains starting and folding the list:
I began Journolist in February of 2007. It was an idea born from disagreement. Weeks, or maybe months, earlier, I had criticized Time's Joe Klein over some comments he made about the Iraq War. He e-mailed a long and searching reply, and the subsequent conversation was educational for us both. Taking the conversation out of the public eye made us less defensive, less interested in scoring points. I learned about his position, and why he held it, in ways that I wouldn't have if our argument had remained in front of an audience.
And this is one of many reasons the list was a spectacularly bad idea. This is precisely how opinion writers are corrupted, their relations with their cronies becomes more important with their relations with their readers. Joe Klein has always been a tool, he has made a career of I am not a liberal; I just play one on the opinion pages. One of the many reasons people think liberals are weak is that news moguls hire weaklings to play liberal on the opinion pages and even more so on TV.
Ezra again on why he folded the list:
But over the years, Journolist grew, and as it grew, its relative exclusivity became more infamous, and its conversations became porous. The leaks never bothered me, though. What I didn't expect was that a member of the list, or someone given access by a member of the list, would trawl through the archives to assemble a dossier of quotes from one particular member and then release them to an interested media outlet to embarrass him. But that's what happened to David Weigel. Private e-mails were twisted into a public story.
Whatever the cause, I am pleased to see one more platform of Versailles group think shut down. I have no doubt that the discussion was as fractious as Klein describes. After all, the original Versailles was riven with rivalries and sharp discussion, that did not alter the fact that it was a cesspool of group think and isolated from the rest of the country. Klein's list reinforced the toxic group think of our Versailles that has done so much to wreck destruction upon our country.