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 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2014

Cassandra Among the
Creeps

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

PBS Self-Destructs

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Monkey Did It

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
Rebecca Solnit on silencing women, a Marine commander returns to Iraq, the decline of PBS, and more
Article
Cassandra Among the Creeps·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On silencing women
“The old framework of feminine mendacity and murky-mindedness is still routinely trotted out, and we should learn to recognize it for what it is.”
Photograph © Sallie Dean Shatz
Post
Ending College Sexual Assault·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is not a fable about a young woman whose dreams were dashed by a sexual predator. Maya’s narrative is one of institutional failure at a school desperately trying to adapt.”
Photograph © AP/Josh Reynolds
Post
 
"Clothes are a bit like eating: you have to dress yourself. You have to eat, and even if you eat pizza all day long, that’s still a choice."
Photograph © G Powell
Article
“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Iraq has every disease there is; its mind is deranged with too many voices, its organs corrupted, its limbs only long enough to tear at its own body.”
Photograph by Benjamin Busch

Amount by which the total wealth of all American households declined last year:

$11,200,000,000,000

A study concluded that commercial fish stocks may be gone by 2050 as a result of overfishing, pollution, and global climate change.

“All I saw,” said a 12-year-old neighbor of visits to the man’s house, “was just cats in little diapers.”

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

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today