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Perspective

The City That ‘This Town’ Forgot

Washington, D.C., is home to a huge concentration of reporters. Why do they miss the stories happening in their own city?
D.C.'s media should reflect on the residents of some of the city's other houses, too.
D.C.'s media should reflect on the residents of some of the city's other houses, too.Carlos Barria/Reuters

On a bone-chilling January night last week, customers lined up inside Kramerbooks in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle for the midnight release of Michael Wolff’s account of the Trump administration, Fire and Fury. The occasion should have merited only a few quirky write-ups about D.C. residents warming up with the latest Washington gossip. Instead, a phalanx of reporters from Buzzfeed to the Washington Post covered the event with the intensity of fans greeting the latest Harry Potter installment. The spectacle cemented the caricature of D.C. denizens as effete court creatures salivating over some fresh palace intrigue. The Twitter tag for this display was the catch-all dig for Washington preening: #ThisTown.

D.C. is inevitably a “town” and not a city, thanks in part to its modest size and lack of high-rises. But the only view that’s provincial comes from the upper echelon of Washington media—from people like Politico columnist Susan Glasser, for example, who characterizes the nation’s capital as a “village, a small town, a one-industry kind of place.”