Exclusive to Crooked Timber but also cross-posted here.
My extensive online research has uncovered the existence of a secret Internet cabal of reporters, journalists, bloggers, writers, and reporters. Apparently, their self-assigned mission is to ignore major news stories, pass silently over rampant corruption in American government and business, and ridicule wonks and elected officials who take “issues” seriously. Instead, they seek—often by fawningly citing each other’s work—to inundate American media with inane, trivial bullshit and deliberate stupidity.
The group is called “Twit,” and it is allegedly responsible for innumerable stories and op-eds about Michelle Obama’s biceps, Hillary Clinton’s cleavage, Al Gore’s wardrobe, and Barack Obama’s flag pin.
But beyond these specific examples, it’s hard to trace Twit’s influence in the media, because so few Twits are willing to talk on the record about it.
One byproduct of that secrecy: For all its high-profile membership—which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd, Mike Allen of POLITICO, Camille Paglia of Salon, Mickey Kaus of Slate, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, and Caitlin Flanagan of the Atlantic—Twit itself has received almost no attention from the media.
A LexisNexis search for Twit reveals exactly nothing. Brad DeLong, a nonmember, may be the only academic blogger to have referred to it “in print” more than once—albeit dismissively, as “a bunch of twits.”
While members may talk freely about Twit at, say, a Georgetown dinner party, there’s a “Fight Club”-style code of silence when it comes to discussing it for publication.
Kaus, however, did agree to speak on the record, acknowledging that the idea of journalists and writers forming email discussion groups “seems contrary to the spirit of the Web.”