Does Twitter Put the Smug into Journalism?

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Old-school journalists decry Twitter for destroying journalism, and for the most part, their fears are overblown. But, The Daily Beast's Ben Crair argues, there's one area of reporting that Twitter does threaten: media criticism. "On Twitter, every journalist is a press critic. This may sound like a good thing: Journalism, more than most institutions, would seem to benefit from self-scrutiny. But, trust me, it isn’t. Twitter opens a window into journalists’ minds and, often times, the view ain't pretty."

Crair reports that ABC's Jake Tapper went silent on Twitter in a huff after liberals were having fun at a Nazi-themed meme at Roger Ailes' expense, only to reemerge 24 minutes later to tweet he hates it when Glenn Beck talks about the Holocaust, too. "By attacking both liberals and Beck, and then announcing his own lack of a double standard, Tapper used his purported offense at the joke as an excuse to trumpet his own objectivity and high standards," Crair writes. "Such self-promotion is the yeast that makes Twitter press criticism rise. Journalists attack other publications in ways meant to emphasize their own superiority to the thing they mock; they type with one hand and hold their noses with the other." Another example: "Slate's Dave Weigel, who was once one of the lead reporters covering birther-queen Orly Taitz, now regularly uses Twitter to snark at journalists who cover fringe politicians."

This greatly displeased Weigel, who responded that Crair’s was a cheap shot. "Crair's premise is poorly-researched and incorrect. I have a clearly-stated standard, and it's that fringe candidates don't deserve any coverage after the voters have rejected them," Weigel writes, noting he only covered Taitz until she was demolished in the Republican primary for California secretary of state. Weigel did not address the charge that Twitter makes reporters sound like jerks.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.