If you’ve ever wondered why so many progressive celebrities on Twitter seem to be focused on the same issues at the same time, well, wonder no longer. Vox reports today that a group of progressive influencers have been meeting online in private Twitter rooms intended to allow them to organize and discuss strategy. It’s called the “Decency Collective.”
Among the names I noticed of those involved are many that people might recognize: Gabrielle Union, Alyssa Milano, Jon Cryer, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, Tom Colicchio, Jason Long, Mark Ruffalo, Adrian Grenier, Akilah Hughes, Piper Perabo, W. Kamau Bell, Ady Barkan, Jason Kander. Representatives from the presidential campaigns of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, among others, are in the mix as well.
The initiative is being spearheaded by Rob Bennett, former creative communications director at the New York City mayor’s office under Bill de Blasio.
Some of the discussion is organic and self organized, but not all of it. State Democratic Parties also pay Bennett to get his celebrities to chirp about fundraising:
Many of the Decency Collective groups are hubs for ongoing conversations, but the influencers are also sometimes rallied around specific causes and events, such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings and President Trump’s impeachment. And Democrats in both Wisconsin and Minnesota enlisted Bennett’s stable of #Resistance celebrities to boost specific fundraising initiatives in 2019 — and, according to public filings with the Federal Election Commission, paid a company he runs thousands of dollars for that service.
There are also leaders from groups like NARAL who use the collective to spread word about their activities:
In August, Ilyse Hogue, the president of the abortion rights group NARAL, dropped into a group called DC-PeoplesResponse one of her tweets of news that the House Judiciary Committee had requested documents on Kavanaugh and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Perabo, who has 167,000 Twitter followers and is one of the most active members of the group, thanked Hogue “for fighting for this,” and Messing responded that it was “THRILLING.”
The Vox story points out that Trump supporters have been doing something like this as well. The 2017 story they link to at Politico Magazine seems to be missing from the website at the moment. A cache of the page shows the story was about groups of Trump fans, many of whom hadn’t even been online prior to joining the groups in question. It all sounds very grassroots. The Decency Collective is self-consciously meant to be a top-down approach. Celebrities discuss issues and sometimes take direction about how to amplify certain messages or, alternatively, how to tamp down on conservative messages.
If you remember Journolist, a private email list for progressive journalists created by Ezra Klein, this sounds like the Hollywood version of that. (Klein later founded Vox, the site reporting this story.) Back then, the in-crowd at Journolist were eager to claim that there was no political organizing or message-crafting taking place at Journolist. The Decency Collective seems to have dispensed with that fiction.