WH tweeting at gnats; Update: White House responds
posted at 8:45 am on July 6, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
When the White House named Jesse Lee as its Director of Progressive Media and Online Response to rebut criticisms on social-networking media, some people argued that the Obama administration had taken a big step toward becoming Big Brother. At the time, I argued that this was nonsense, and that the White House had a right to respond to criticism — but that Lee’s job was a task better left to the DNC, which traditionally served the role of political response. Instead of looking hip and timely, attacking Twitter users would make the Obama administration look petty and thin-skinned, and would diminish the seriousness and dignity of the Presidency. Punching below one’s weight is a strategy that never pays off.
Little did I know just how far below their weight the White House would punch. Heritage Foundation’s Rob Bluey analyzes Lee’s feed and discovers that 15% of all his rebuttals in the month since he took the job have been directed at one user, and it’s not Jake Tapper, Bret Baier, Chuck Todd, or even Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. Instead, Lee has spent almost one-sixth of his twitter time rebutting … Kevin Eder.
President Obama’s director of progressive media is obsessed with one particular conservative provocateur. Jesse Lee’s duties at the White House include “online response” — and there has been no shortage of responses to one person who routinely communicates with him on Twitter.
Of the 267 tweets written by Lee in just over a month, a stunning 40 of them have been directed at Kevin Eder, a prolific Twitter user with more than 83,000 tweets to his credit. That means 15 percent of Lee’s tweets — from an official White House account no less — have been with Eder.
One such example happened last week in a dispute over the budget.
Eder posted this tweet: “Hmm…it can’t be true that @SenateDems haven’t passed a budget in 790 days and the only plan Obama has is a speech. Right, @jesseclee44?”
To which Lee responded: “@keder @SenateDems Plan is keep negotiating w/ Rs & Ds, not default & trash economy, not voucherize Medicare to fund more tax cuts for rich.”
Lee has tweeted 267 times in five weeks? That’s a little over 10 tweets a weekday. Try to pace yourself, Jesse! How much do taxpayers shell out for Jesse’s position of Director of Progressive Media and Online Response, anyway? Try $72,000 per year.
By the way, in case you’re offended by my “Who?” question on Eder’s behalf, don’t be. Bluey asked Eder about Lee, and Eder answered that it’s awfully fun getting the White House goat on such a regular basis. But he’s as mystified as anyone as to why Lee bothers. “The White House is legitimizing me,” Eder told Bluey, “and quite literally, I’m nobody.”
Lee will have to pick up his pace today. Barack Obama will hold a Twitter “town hall” this afternoon, moderated by Twitter co-founder (and Obama supporter) Jack Dorsey. People can ask questions by using the hashtag #AskObama. Hot Air readers are definitely encouraged to propose their own questions to the town hall. Perhaps you can add @jesseclee44 to the tweet in order to take some of the load off of Keven Eder, too.
Update: As if to prove my point …
@jesseclee44 Wed 06 Jul 08:34: Anybody got a list of “gnats” vs non-gnats? I shant sully myself w/ rabble any longer: bit.ly/pDOzYx cc @EdMorrissey
@EdMorrissey Wed 06 Jul 08:36: #AskObama ! RT @jesseclee44: Anybody got a list of “gnats” vs non-gnats? I shant sully myself w/ rabble any longer: http://bit.ly/pDOzYx
@jesseclee44 Wed 06 Jul 08:39: .@EdMorrissey Well if we had one already I wouldn’t have to ask. #crowdsource
That’s about 20% of Jesse’s daily output. I feel honored.