Friday, April 03, 2009

'The Tweet Smell of Success'

Don't miss James Wolcott's examination of the metastasizing inanity of the beltway political-media complex.

In a New Republic article about Politico, the Web-print hybrid manimal run by Washington Post stalwarts John Harris and Jim VandeHei, Gabriel Sherman reports that the columns are formatted to be read on BlackBerrys by political junkies on the fly, and racing stripes must be earned every day. “The motto around the Politico newsroom is to ‘win the morning, win the afternoon’—by which editors mean that Politico’s stories need to be the most talked about and cited in that day’s news cycle.” 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. Chris Matthews’s antsiness used to be a comic novelty. Now it’s the studious norm. Is it any wonder the big picture has shrunk into a handful of pixels?
The whole piece is great. A must-read, in fact.

But one observation from this excerpt jumped off the screen at me.

You mean to tell me David Gregory actually writes those questions down? I thought they were pumped into his earpiece straight from some center of conventional wisdom such the RNC or David Broder's beach house.

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