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.

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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