I have no idea what will become of Twitter or how I will be using it. Elongated Muskrat’s embrace of noxious conspiracism and bigotry* is making it harder for me to use it; on the other hand, that he is paying for me to tweet crap I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t like fills me with a certain wicked glee. That said, in the grand scheme of things, I think Twitter is still in the gradual decline stage of things.
What does worry me is that Twitter is becoming ‘Newsweek-ified.’ Newsweek, while always a mainstream, moderate news outlet, had decent journalism. It wasn’t a hack outfit. In its most current incarnation, it’s really bad (boldface mine):
Writing in The Columbia Journalism Review last year, Daniel Tovrov depicted Newsweek, once one of America’s most distinguished magazines, as a shell of its former self. All that was left was clickbait, op-eds from the likes of Nigel Farage and Newt Gingrich, and a general sense of drift. “Nobody I spoke to for this article had a sense of why Newsweek exists,” Tovrov wrote. “While the name Newsweek still carries a certain authority—remnants of its status as a legacy outlet—and the magazine can still bag an impressive interview now and then, it serves an opaque purpose in the media landscape.”
Last week, Newsweek suggested one possible purpose: The legitimization of narratives straight out of the right-wing fever swamps. An op-ed written by John Eastman, a conservative lawyer and founding director of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, coyly suggested that Kamala Harris, who was born in California, may not be eligible to serve as vice president because her parents were immigrants. It was, as many pointed out, a racist attack with no constitutional merit, on par with the birther conspiracy theory that claimed Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Within a few hours, Eastman’s op-ed was being brandished by President Trump, who told reporters he had “heard” Harris may not be eligible to serve.
What worries me is that much of the political press corps, which is horribly credulous**, will fail to realize if (perhaps when) Twitter turns into a neo-Nazi scumpool. At that point, Twitter, unlike G*b or P**ler, will be able to do much more damage than those isolated sites because it will be seen as a more realistic version of the vox populi (SWIDT?).
Or maybe Muskrat will add Smellovision to Twitter. Who the hell knows with this asshole?
*It’s likely, though not certain, Jack Dorsey wasn’t much better. He just had more self-control.
**Or worse, many in the political press corps do understand what’s going on, but choose to not report events accurately..