The Secret Worlds
The Daily Beast takes readers deep inside the clannish in-groups who have dominated the decade's news.
Cartel hitmen and ISIS jihadis. Crooked Tulsa cops. Instagram influencers. La-La-Land porn stars. Alt-right trolls and Fox News apparatchiks. Since its launch, The Daily Beast has taken readers deep inside these clannish groups as they gain power and influence the news. Whether we’re talking about the true believers who pledge their loyalty to the caliphate—or those who cheer on their ‘Emperor Trump’—these in-tribes share a few things in common. They have their own slang that’s indecipherable to outsiders. (“MAGA.” “Vlogger.” “ATM.”) They can be punitive to defectors. (See: Fox’s treatment of Megyn Kelly.) They are often torn asunder by petty infighting (Logan Paul vs. KSI, or Stormy Daniels vs. Tasha Reign, anyone?) And their members have intersected with the most impactful cultural and political moments over the past 10 years.
And so several porn stars on a regular junket in Tahoe met a man who would one day be president. A corrupt police department’s crooked deal with a pay-to-play sheriff resulted in a death that sparked Black Lives Matter protests. A YouTuber’s “suicide forest” video caused an international outcry. And the denizens of Reddit and 4Chan boards weaponized their racist online trolling to radicalize young men and rally the faithful for the 2016 election.
Some of these tight-knit communities have gained real and terrifying reach over the past decade, with the cartels ruling a de-facto failed state inside Mexico—and, until recently, ISIS controlling huge swaths of Iraq. Meanwhile, Fox News has survived a cascade of sexual harassment scandals to become a state media apparatus that would make Russia Today jealous. Will these secret worlds still hold our fascination for another 10 years? If Stormy Daniels, the Paul Brothers, and al-Baghdadi have anything to say about it, we’ll be seeing their names in the news for a long time to come.