I’ve told you many times that reader emails are at the heart of makes TPM TPM. Some of it is news tips, which have been at the heart of some of our biggest stories. More often it’s just a constant stream of pointers to out of the way news reports we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. But more than anything it’s a never ending stream of commentary, opinion, story ideas, reactions and critiques that have become so deeply woven into my mental life that it’s hard to fully convey. What’s a treat after 13 years of doing this is that I still have every single one that was ever sent in.
Why save them all? I guess it’s probably my background as an historian but also some element of just being an information pack-rat or some deeper need to preserve the details of the past. But looking back at them now I find them a fascinating storehouse of information. Not so much facts that aren’t known elsewhere but in-time impressions of what things seemed like as they were happening – a small historical record of how a certain subset of the US population saw the evolving politics of the last 13 years as it happened.
There are some incredibly vexing gaps. I am having a hard time tracking down the ten days surrounding the 2004 elections, which kills me
I mention this this evening. Because I just got a new computer – my last one I’d had since 2006, 1 generation intel Mac. I’ve had the emails all this time. But for a set of reasons they weren’t as easily accessible as they might have been. But the new faster system has rectified that. And so I was just looking over some of them this evening.
David Kurtz sometimes jokes that if every reader who says they’ve been reading TPM since the very beginning had actually been reading it since the very beginning the site would have started with a truly massive audience. That’s not meant snidely. People’s memories play tricks on them and not everyone knows just when the site started. But tonight I was looking at some emails from the very beginning – November/December 2000. It was interesting to see all those old names. Many of them continued writing in for years. Most are I think still readers. But there’s one reader – TPM Reader KB – who was there emailing right from the very beginning and emailing a lot. 16 emails in December 2000. And still a total regular. His last was on the 17th of last month.