Washington Babylon — April 20, 2009, 8:21 am

Wolcott on the Media: The tweet smell of success

I disagree with James Wolcott’s main thesis here that the media is “wired” towards Republican power. The Washington media is wired for power alone (and perhaps a tinge of celebrity). It makes little difference who’s wielding it. Witness the Obama campaign coverage.

If the Democrats hold power long enough, they’ll bask in the media glow just as the Bushies did for so long. How else will reporters win their coveted access?

That said, Wolcott’s piece is a great read and he gets a lot right.

Watching ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, for instance, is like receiving an engraved invitation to apoplexy. When the panel that Stephanopoulos conducts after his “Newsmakers” interviews includes Sam Donaldson, George Will, and Cokie Roberts, longtime observers of Roman folly, it is like being swallowed by an hourglass; they saw away at the same old creaky strophes of received wisdom as if nothing short of divine revelation could awaken a new thought, eject the dust bunnies from their brains…To delve into the editorial pages of The Washington Post is to crack open an even creakier sarcophagus, where the dead paw of consensus maintains a semblance of order, continuity, prudence.

And the conclusion:

So we’ve gone from “Who won the week?,” a favorite question on the Sunday-morning chat shows, to “Who won the afternoon?,” time and thought processes being diced into shorter and shorter segments until we reach the 140-character capsule of Twitter, the social-networking micro-platform which Washington movers have taken to with a bang because their thumbs and narcissism don’t get near enough exercise. Howard Kurtz, media columnist for the Washington Post, relayed Meet the Press host David Gregory’s pre-show preparation: “Guests should arrive anytime now. This is a good time for me to go thru my q’s one last time. Maybe a bagel b4 air.” Yes, by all means, go for the bagel, and may its voyage through the digestive tract be a propitious one. As the traditional news business collapses around them like glacier walls, Beltway illuminati are executing tighter and tighter spirals of self-referentiality as they pursue the tweet smell of success.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

New Books

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“The campaign music stopped. Hundreds of people, their faces now warped by the dread of a third bomb, began running for cover.”
Photograph © Guy Martin/Panos.
Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer

Chance that a U.S. criminologist thinks abolishing the death penalty would increase the murder rate:

1 in 10

Villagers in Bangladesh found a missing woman halfway down a python’s throat.

The FAA announced it would investigate an 18-year-old Connecticut man who posted a YouTube video showing a homemade drone firing a handgun.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today