, 29 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
(THREAD) As this feed hits 600K followers, I've had cause to reflect on the ethos—philosophy—behind the work I've tried to do here as a lawyer, former criminal investigator, educator, author and curatorial journalist. I hope you'll read on if you're interested in what I've found.
1/ First and most importantly, I've learned how very grateful and humbled one should be to have engaged, informed, intelligent readers. Because my DMs are open and have always been open—another thing I've learned is critical—I hear from many of you privately as well as publicly.
2/ Those who think Twitter readers don't have the patience for complex stories or arguments, or don't read widely across platforms and outlets, or are looking for simple "hot takes" are just wrong. There will always be some of that, but I've found readers to be incredibly astute.
3/ Far from what some might have expected, I don't regularly have readers publicly or privately trying to sell me on conspiracy theories. In fact, the bulk of the link-oriented public *and* private feedback on this feed has sought to point me toward valuable major-media reports.
4/ So a big part of this first element of my ethos on Twitter is: listen to and respect your readers, because if you've done your very best to create a well-informed, highly engaged, fact-based feed, chances are that you have a well-informed, highly engaged, fact-based audience.
5/ For that reason, I don't really understand Twitter feeds with closed private messages. It's worth suffering through occasional threats, "sexy bot" solicitations, and the occasional off-target "lead" to get assistance from one's readers in finding the news that really matters.
6/ The second thing I've learned is that most of the hard work happens off Twitter. When the Trump-Russia story finally took off in major media—six or seven months after many of us began focusing on it—a gaggle of well-credentialed analysts appeared who'd long ignored the story.
7/ Many (even most) of those well-credentialed analysts were smart, talented people. They were also, many of them, cautious by temperament—they wanted to wait until scores of major media personalities had told them the Russia story was important before they stuck their necks out.
8/ I think the reality is that we should try to be ourselves on Twitter, and, when and as we can be, gregarious and courageous in how we communicate online. I am a passionate, emotional, and counter-institutional person by nature, and I'm glad readers gave me the room to be that.
9/ Sometimes it's hard to watch TV and see analysts be interviewed who are smart and talented but have done virtually no off-air research into the Trump-Russia scandal—and that happens more than you'd think. Many of these analysts know only the bare basics of this historic story.
10/ By the same token, sometimes you encounter a smart, talented, and articulate analyst who has no point of view or ethos when it comes to the present national emergency—they're looking to offer opinions that will offend or disturb no one and largely repeat what we already know.
11/ And that's the third thing I've learned: it's important to tweet your values. As a former public defender, my chief value as an officer of the court and someone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution is that all people—rich or poor—deserve equal treatment under the law.
12/ What that means is that I've tried to approach this case from the presumption that Trump should be treated no differently than you or me under the law—except in those rare instances the law or Constitution explicitly gives him distinct powers, privileges and responsibilities.
13/ Sometimes that puts me a little at odds with the most common sort of analyst we have—former or current federal prosecutors, who are well-attuned to how white-collar cases prosecuting the wealthy and powerful are *generally* handled. That's different from how they *should* be.
14/ I admit that I'm someone who speaks from his ideals—meaning that if I know Trump is supposed to be treated the same way you or I would be in a given situation, I'm not going to cynically recite how he is *likely* to abuse the system but to insist on it being honored, instead.
15/ For instance, I've worked many Obstruction, Witness Tampering and Perjury cases, so I know the sort of evidence that's used daily to convict average Americans for these offenses. I'm not going to pretend that these cases are *so hard to prove* when they're not—for you and me.
16/ A fourth thing I've learned is one shouldn't be ashamed of being interdisciplinary—even when social media *wants* one to be. For instance, practicing attorneys shame me for being an attorney who used to practice but now teaches—but teaching enables me to be the tweeter I am.
17/ By the same token, that I was a federal criminal investigator on the defense side means nothing to those who've investigated for federal law enforcement; that I was a state-level public defender who saw our justice system in a "high-traffic" way is icky to federal attorneys.
18/ People who don't understand how public communicators learn their skills make hay of me having published books of poetry—though if there's one skill-set that *every tweet I've ever written* made *direct* use of, it's understanding language from the viewpoint of a working poet.
19/ I'm proud of the way my being an educator, editor, and post-internet theorist is manifested in my social media feed. I've no difficulty seeing how my interdisciplinary background is an asset—even if it makes me easy to misread or ridicule. (Bio below.) sethabramson.net/bio
20/ A fifth thing I've learned is that major media is deeply broken—even though it's filled with some amazingly dedicated and talented public servants—and that as a whole our media ecosystem is in no mood whatsoever to be judged, critiqued, or in any way whatsoever improved upon.
21/ We all see the problems—an alternating terror of being wrong and flippancy toward exactness; an unwillingness to research, acknowledge or incorporate the full scope of work done on the topic you're reporting; hostility to those outside institutions—and they're not going away.
22/ But with this, I've learned that some really incredible reporting is being done—and that new media journalism, particularly a subgenre I'm interested in called "curatorial journalism," can help rescue obscure, foreign, or too-complex reporting from falling through the cracks.
23/ There's a lot of work that can be done in synthesizing what's good in U.S. media rather than merely cantankerously attacking what's bad. While I criticize media regularly, anyone who reads this feed also knows that my threads honor and rely upon the best reporting I can find.
24/ Finally, I've learned social media makes us unhappy; it's impossible to "be yourself" online (the "self" doesn't translate); and no one's really a human being to anyone else on the internet, so we might as well explore virtual spaces with courage—even some generative abandon.
25/ Thanks to the 600K of you who've been here on this crazy ride—and that even includes the occasional haters, libelers, and condescending folks in the law, media or otherwise whose experience, knowledge and credentials I'd be proud to stack mine against. You too have taught me.
PS/ I almost forgot! I learned to admit mistakes. No one is perfect—we're all doing the best we can. I'm working every weekend to try to stay fully informed on this globe-spanning story for the book and the feed, but I'm sure I'll sometimes mess up. I'll acknowledge it when I do.
CORRECTION/ Case in point! Tweet #16 should say, "...even when social media *wants* one *not* to be."
NOTE/ Many have good reasons for locking their DMs or not being their true selves online; I know firsthand what perpetual public/private Twitter abuse looks, feels, and sounds like. My comments on that score were really directed to journalists (and in some rare cases, activists).
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