Revealed: The Man Behind @MayorEmanuel
Alexis Madrigal tells the story of the man behind the best fake Twitter account ever:
For weeks, journalists and insiders have urged the person behind @MayorEmanuel to reveal himself, but he (or she) demurred. Until now. After a protracted email negotiation, the author has outed himself to The Atlantic. He’s receiving no compensation.
The genius behind @MayorEmanuel is Dan Sinker, who has a heart made out of Chicago and balls of punk rock.
Go read the whole thing, it’s a great story, especially as Sinker explains how he came up with the best parts of the narrative that he unfolded over five months.
Well done, sir.
UPDATE (James Joyner): A bit more from the piece, to whet the appetites of those who don’t follow Twitter and had never heard of this fake account:
Caricaturing the notoriously dirty-mouthed former White House chief of staff, the Twitter account was a sensation as the election came to a close last week. @MayorEmanuel wrote nearly 2000 tweets in five months and collected several times as many followers as Rahm Emanuel’s real account. Since its last — and apparently final — update on Thursday night, some 1500 Tweets have been issued about the fake account. Daxid Axelrod himself, a frequent character in the stream, responded to a tweet Friday asking whether he missed the account, “You’re freakin’ A right I do.”
If that seems like a lot of fuss over a Twitter account, you probably haven’t been following @MayorEmanuel. The profane, brilliant stream of tweets not only may be the most entertaining feed ever created, but it pushed the boundaries of the medium, making Twitter feel less like a humble platform for updating your status and more like a place where literature could happen. Never deviating too far from the reality of the race itself, @MayorEmanuel wove deep, hilarious stories. It was next-level digital political satire and caricature, but over the months the account ran, it became much more. By the end, the stream resembled an epic, allusive ode to the city of Chicago itself, yearning and lyrical.
And in some sense, the glory of @MayorEmanuel was that it exposed the dark humor that political operatives know and love, mixed with the drunken idealism that tends to drive the politicos. Politics is desperate and raw and exhausting, yet on TV it looks so polished and prim. It’s a knock-down, drag-out war in which everyone has to fight in their Sunday best. @MayorEmanuel looked at that state of affairs and started cussing, not unlike what a lot of us do when we look at our politics. This take on politics would not be airbrushed, edited, or watered down. All the things public politics downplays, this feed would expand and celebrate. This feed would be festooned with anger and the drive for power and the f-word. It was the inverse of the real Emanuel campaign, or as the Tribune called it a “brilliantly imagined and unrestrained counter-script.”
Sinker himself is an interesting character, a former punk rock magazine writer who’s now teaching college journalism.