There is a bizarrely healthy contingent of Phish fans in the political sphere and the journalism sphere,” says Politico Congress reporter Jake Sherman. He is a Journophish member. So is Costa—he and Sherman commiserated together this past New Year’s Eve when the fiscal-cliff crisis kept them from Phish’s annual three-set extravaganza at Madison Square Garden. Stephanie Gallman, of CNN’s national content center, is also on the list (“Jake Sherman found me first. I had a Twitter friendship with him”). Brian Colligan, editorial page editor at the Daily Reflector of Greenville, North Carolina, made a Twitter list with several more semi-confirmed members, including two Gothamist editors and social-media folks at MSNBC and The Daily Beast. All told, there are about two dozen Journophishers.
And they are all journalists. Not allowed entry are Phishhead operatives such as Tucker Martin, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s press secretary (who recently used the governor’s official feed to tweet, “To paraphrase #Phish, Virginia can feel good about Hood: 75 new jobs in Frederick County”), Republican ad-man Andy Sere, or the several fans in Patrick Leahy’s office (the senator from Vermont himself is actually a Deadhead). “Tucker’s a fellow-traveler of Journophish,” Costa says. “There are no flacks.”4
Part of what tickles these journalists, clearly, is that they defy most people’s stereotypical perception of Phishheads—a perception most easily summarized by these Weekly Standard covers featuring hippies. “No one in this community is quitting their job to sell grilled cheese for the summer,” says Sherman. In fact, he tells me that Phishhead journalists and politicos in D.C. are disproportionately conservative—though he admits his sample could be skewed by the fact that he primarily covers Republicans.