A Columbia College journalism professor and former editor of Punk Planet magazine revealed today that he's the man behind the wildly popular @MayorEmanuel Twitter feed. Dan Sinker launched the feed soon after former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel launched his bid for mayor late last fall. But his identity wasn't known until now.
Sinker chose to break the news to The Atlantic.com on Monday afternoon, which called @MayorEmanuel "the best fake Twitter account ever". He will give his first extended broadcast interview to WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight on Tuesday.
Sinker's revelation comes after weeks of mounting speculation as to the identity of the anonymous Twitterer. @MayorEmanuel has became one of the most popular social media accounts of the recent mayoral campaign, boasting nearly 39,000 followers.
Its steady stream of irreverent, satirical, profanity-laced commentary served as an imagined window into Emanuel's subconscious. The result was an often hilarious counterpoint to the official statements coming from the highly controlled and discplined candidate himself. @MayorEmanuel also featured recurring characters such as Quaxelrod, a take on Obama political guru David Axelrod, and Carl the Intern.
The Twitter feed even attracted the attention of the Emanuel campaign. "We check it periodically and it's good for a few laughs," Tarrah Cooper, Emanuel's deputy press secretary, told the Chicago Tribune.
The identity of the person behind the Tweets became a favorite guessing game among Twitter users and political junkies in recent weeks. The Mayor-elect himself even weighed in, offering to donate as much as $5,000 to charity if the person behind the feed revealed his identity.
After shuttering Punk Planet, Sinker was given a prestigious John S. Knight Fellowship for mid-career journalists at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. Following his fellowship, he was hired as a faculty member in the Journalism department at Columbia College Chicago, where he's taught courses in Online Journalism and Mobile Journalism, among others. Along the way, he's developed and experimented with new forms of storytelling using digital tools, including the creation of cellstories.net. In 2009, Sinker spoke with WBEZ.org about cellstories.net and his overall approach to digital journalism.
On Tuesday, Sinker will return to WBEZ to join Eight Forty-Eight for a live conversation about the creation of @mayoremanuel and the struggle to keep his identity a secret. That conversation will take place at 9 a.m., with a rebroadcast at 9 p.m.
Updated at 4:49pm on 2/28/11