Journolist emails reported by The Daily Caller show a nasty political underbelly of the liberal news media.

One installment discusses how political operatives attempted to shape the news from within Journolist in ways favorable to Barack Obama. Another, members contemplating explicitly coordinating their efforts with the 2008 Obama campaign.

Still other emails show Journolisters willing to randomly disparage, if not defame, conservative critics of Obama. Makes you wonder what they say in more confidential confines.

Journolister, author and professor Eric Alterman recently published a piece for the Center for American Progress criticizing GOP efforts to defeat attempts by Democrats to upend the Supreme Court’s Citizens United First Amendment ruling.

Given his timing, nobody can say Alterman doesn’t have cajones.  He writes:

“Of course, much of corporate money that goes into these campaigns is spent specifically for the purposes of disinformation and character assassination—and is occasionally turned on conservatives by other conservatives who deem the first conservatives to be insufficiently pure.”

Journolisters went beyond mere prattle, and engaged in campaigns of “disinformation and character assassination” themselves. Why, then, are their efforts different from the corporate efforts that should, according to Alterman and many of his liberal colleagues and their corporate employers, be regulated by the Federal Election Commission?

Even after Citizens United, the FEC regulates independent corporate political speech. Election law defines a political committee subject to registration and reporting with the FEC as any “individual, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, or any organization or group of persons” that receives or spends more than $1,000 for the purpose of influencing elections.

But for a statutory exemption for the news media, the employers of Journolisters - and it seems Journolist itself - would be regulated under election law.

In January, however, Eric Boehlert at Media Matters (and, yes, Alterman’s career path weaved through that George Soros institution at one time) suggested that Fox News should no longer qualify for the FEC media exemption, and asked whether its coverage should qualify as a GOP campaign contribution.

Boehlert writes:

“That relentlessly partisan approach continues to raise fundamental questions about what role Fox News plays in our political culture and, thanks to its shameless GOP boosterism, whether the cable channel and its programming should fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission.

“Meaning, does Fox News' gung-ho GOP campaign coverage double as a contribution to the Republican Party, a contribution that should be regulated?”

“[The media exemption] worked well because for decades there has been both a spoken and unspoken understanding among professional journalists as to what kind of guidelines and standards ought to be upheld in the pursuit of the news.

“But, as we've been stressing for the past year, the radically transformed Fox News no longer plays by any discernable rules. I mean, allowing one candidate, on the eve of a special election, to repeatedly raise funds on the air? That's unthinkable in any other newsroom in America.

“So the question must now be raised: Is Fox News' relentlessly one-sided coverage the equivalent of a massive campaign contribution to the GOP? And based on some recent regulatory language used by the FEC, the answer might just be ‘yes.’”

You can’t make this stuff up.

One beauty of the First Amendment, which seems lost on at least some Journolisters, is that it allows ultimately for the exposure of truth and hypocrisy. Then again, maybe that’s why Journolisters and their corporate employers want to regulate the political speech of others.

Mark J. Fitzgibbons is president of corporate and legal affairs at American Target Advertising, Inc.