Emanuel, Fake Emanuel to Meet Wednesday - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Emanuel, Fake Emanuel to Meet Wednesday



    @MayorEmanuel Revealed

    In a sit-down interview, Dan Sinker -- @MayorEmanuel on Twitter -- talks about when he realized he was doing "a thing" and how it all came to an end. (Published Wednesday, June 22, 2011)

    Dan Sinker said he always knew the "thing" he'd created would eventually come to an end, but said it was far crazier than he ever thought it was going to be.

    Sinker was revelead Monday by The Atlantic as the writer of the masked, expletive-laced Twitter account, @MayorEmanuel.

    "I didn't think people would be outside my house," he said of the throngs of reporters who appeared Monday afternoon.

    Sinker is the founder of now-defunct punk zine Punk Planet and an assistant Columbia College professor who built the Chicago Mayoral Election Scorecard.

    He laments that he doesn't have a good story as to why he started the social media project.

    "It was in the evening.  One evening these rumors of Rahm getting in [the campaign] were hitting real hard and I just thought, 'That would be kind of funny.'  I wish it was better than that," he said.

    Within a day, there were about 1,000 people following the account, but Sinker said "it was a long time before I knew I was doing 'a thing,' honestly."

    Sinker's @MayorEmanuel account grew to cult-like status, boasting more than 21,000 followers when the real Emanuel only have 7,000, yet the account followed no one.

    After the election, the account grew silent.

    Just about anyone following the Chicago mayor's race wanted to know Sinker's identity, including Rahm Emanuel himself.  During a phone call on WLS radio's The Roe Conn Show with Richard Roeper earlier this month, the real Emanuel offered a reward to unmask @MayorEmanuel's identity.

    The two men will meet Wednesday, and the mayor-elect said he'll make good on his offer.

    Sinker said he has no idea how that meeting will go. 

    "I really want to meet Axelrod," said Sinker.  "He was my favorite person to write.  He was so fun to write."

    Sinker said the pressure he felt from people trying to figure out who was behind the account was "pretty hard to function under after a while," and said his only hope was that he maintain anonymity through the end of the campaign.

    "It would suck to not finish a story and be outed," he said.  "It was always -- once I knew I was doing something -- it was always the story of the campaign.  That was the arc; that's a beginning, a middle and, most importantly, an end."

    In the end, Sinker said Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic just got lucky. 

    "He hit me with an "at reply," the same as every single reporter in the world, but he did it two days before it was done," he explained.

    When asked, Emanuel said he enjoyed the faux messages.

    "Are you kidding," Emanuel said. "It always brings a smile to my face. This guy or gal has garnered a huge following. A lot of people go, I just read your tweet and I'm like, what?"