Be careful what you read on Twitter, it has become a key component of the Obamacare
lie, er spin machine. As soon as an Obama official sees a news report he doesn’t like, the team begins a rapid-fire of tweets declaring the falsehood of that report.
Josh Earnest, the principal deputy press secretary to Obama, began the assault with a series of tweets that said the healthcare law did protect Americans against changes in their coverage – unless insurers altered such coverage.
“NBC ‘scoop’ cites normal turnover in the indiv insurance market,” Earnest tweeted to his 9,500 followers on Twitter.
The message was retweeted 166 times, potentially reaching another 164,000 people, according to Twitonomy, a Twitter analytics tool.
During the next hour, White House staffers would tweet and retweet messages about the story more than a dozen times, including tweets directly to the NBC reporter.
The debate continues over whether Obama has been misleading about the healthcare law. But it’s clear that in many ways, Twitter has become as important in the West Wing’s communications arsenal as daily press briefings. Twitter’s 140-character messages are faster than a press release, with broader and more direct reach than appearances on cable television.
Under a strategy championed by Obama’s senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, the White House has doubled its footprint on Twitter since July, giving official accounts on the social media web site to more than a dozen additional communications staffers.
And the White House Army is very good at what they do:
“You never find an organization that is collectively this good at Twitter,” said Peter LaMotte, head of digital communications practice at Levick, who advises major corporations on using social media.
There is nothing wrong with the President using twitter as a communications tool, God knows conservatives do the same thing. However whenever I tweet out a post, readers have every opportunity to write a comment on that post, pointing out what I got wrong.
The issue here is that a President who very rarely faces the press corps is using twitter as an opportunity to pass along “half-truths” and spin, without giving the fourth estate an opportunity to question his claims.
Read the full Reuters report here.
UPDATE: Here’s a great example. Yesterday a woman wrote an op ed in the Wall Street Journal how she was losing her health insurance:
My grievance is not political; all my energies are directed to enjoying life and staying alive, and I have no time for politics. For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.
My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.
This morning the progressive spin machine went into combat mode. Think Progress wrote about the “real” reason she lost her insurance–he health care company pulled out of the market in May, and of course Think Progress would never concede that the reason the company pulled out had anything to do with the upcoming implementation of Obamacare.
Nevertheless the Digital Brown Shirts as Glenn Reynolds called them, were quick to tweet out the Think Progress article: