The Twitter Files and Writing for the Maw

Twitter will always be led by a confederacy of dunces. Consistency and justice were never in the cards.

However. While I’m not really interested at all in the Twitter files as such, I am always interested in the meta-discursive details of how the media talks to itself. The large majority of our media that is not explicitly conservative seems to have fallen into almost total unanimity that the Twitter files are not worth paying attention to, that Musk’s leadership is bad, and that the people reporting on the Twitter files are bad as well. And I’m interested in how these orthodoxies develop within media. I’m interested, in other words, in the Maw.

The Maw is, broadly speaking, the expression of the culture war as operationalized by the consensus opinions of media. The Maw is the aggregate of opinions of paid-up journalists and writers and pundits and, specifically, the opinions they will allow. When a big story breaks, there’s an initial feeling-out period where the media talks to itself and decides what the consensus opinion will be. As time has gone on, this process has gotten faster and faster, so that now the media consensus and the expectation that all decent people will glom onto it develop in a matter of minutes. What’s interesting about the Twitter files is that both an inciting incident (the Hunter Biden laptop story and its censorship by Twitter) and an eventual consequence of it (the release of the Twitter files) fell into the Maw with incredible speed. Immediately, in 2020, the enforced consensus within media was that there was no story to speak of regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story; it was not only not worthy of influencing the election, it should not have been reported on at all, and Twitter’s decision to artificially limit its spread was justified. So too with the Twitter files: as soon as Matt Taibi started tweeting about them, it seems, most in newsmedia were convinced they were unimportant. This is the Maw at work – it’s the expression of culture war in what the media sees as a respectable position to hold. In the Maw, nothing independent survives.

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