Search This Blog


Friday, March 27, 2015

Social Media and Staff

Natalie Andrews and Rebecca Ballhaus report at The Wall Street Journal:
Liz Mair, a free-speaking, fast-tweeting and sometimes profane political consultant, was observing the Republican presidential candidates in January when she offered a thought on Twitter. The sooner that Iowa forfeits its leading role in the nominating process, she wrote, “the better off American politics and policy will be.’’
Then, she took a job with a candidate who has high hopes of carrying Iowa.
A day after her new job with GOP Gov. Scott Walker was announced, she was off the payroll, thanks to her knock on a politically potent state. It was the latest example of the clash between the world of politics, where a top imperative is to stay on-message, and the more free-wheeling ethic of social media.
In recent weeks, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, both likely candidates for the GOP nomination, have also cut ties with staffers and volunteers over their social media posts.
Ms. Mair declined to comment. Mr. Walker, of Wisconsin, on Thursday referred to the matter, saying that “you need to respect the voters.’’
Politicians try to control every facet of their political profile, giving consideration to their speeches, their travel schedules, whether to wear a red tie or open collar. As they try to take advantage of the reach and immediacy of social media, they are hiring staff members who already have “personal brands’’ of their own—years of social media posts to thousands of followers, and a sometimes provocative online voice that can cause the candidate problems.
Rich Galen writes at Mullings:
  • How does this stuff come out? The professional opposition research firms that have sprung up over the past few years put the NSA to shame when it comes to following digital breadcrumbs.
  • And, while a candidate's allies will go to great lengths to protect the principal (see, also Sec. Clinton's emails), no donor or major player will lift a finger to help a staffer caught with their fingers on the SEND key.
  • One of the issues with Twitter, etc. is to write something that will get other people to make it a "Favorite" and/or to "ReTweet" it to their followers. The game is to get as many "Followers" of your own as you can.
  • There's an old saying at the Galen School of Political Press: "Anyone can make news if they say something stupid enough."
  • Here are some guiding principals for young people who want to be professional political operatives:
    • Don't Tweet stupid stuff.
    • If you've been drinking, don't Tweet at all. It will be stupid stuff
    • If you pause for even a nano-second before hitting the "Tweet" key, erase it. Your internal governor is trying to tell you something.
    • You can't generate context in 140 characters
A press release from Shield Political Research:
Shield Political Research, a Democratic opposition research firm with experience researching opponents as well as offering self-research to clients, is pleased to announce the launch of a new service to campaigns and political organizations: self-research on the social media history of potential staffers and other new hires.

The early stages of the 2016 cycle have been filled with stories of what turned out to be short-term campaign hires generating distractions — and embarrassing headlines —with regretful social media posts that were discovered too late, including misogynistic Twitter posts, tweets taking a swipe at early-state voters, and tweets calling officials on both sides of the aisle “idiots,” and worse. […]

Many of the men and women who will staff and lead campaigns this cycle are from a generation in which virtually their entire adult lives —for better or worse —are reflected on social media accounts.

Shield will examine these social media accounts — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, among other sites —and flag any potential sources of trouble, including questionable photos, comments, tweets, “likes” or followed feeds.

Our methods go beyond simple searching, using triangulation, archived pages and social-web analysis to guarantee we capture a full picture of the staffer’s social media footprint.

The service will employ the same touchstones that mark Shield’s other research products: speed, accuracy and a price that makes it a shrewd investment for national and local campaigns alike.

Shield’s social media reports for staffers will be completed in three days or less, and be protected by a confidentiality clause.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


If youa are taking part in the simulation in any way, I  strongly encourage you to tweet in character – but please adhere to Twitter rules:


A New Washington Community

Simulation Roles

A stop-video exercise:  Sen Corker (Charlie Montgomery in the simulation)

A Blast from the Past:  the Dreyer Memo

Seating Chart for the White House Briefing Room:briefing_logos
The new environment (Malecha, 26):
Words uttered on talk radio and cable TV, once considered almost entirely disposable, are now etched onto servers around the world. They can end up on sites such as YouTube where they are viewed time and again by people well beyond the target audience. They can be redirected to potential critics via e-mail, as happened in this case. In other words, they live on and can come back to haunt the people responsible for them.
Opportunity for pushback

Newt talks about the new Washington of the 1980s.

Lobbying (data in the link do not account for outside lobbying)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Third Essay Assignment

Pick one:

1. If you are taking part in the legislative simulation, write an essay comparing and contrasting your experience with that of your counterparts (reporters, officials, or interest group leaders, as the case may be). In your essay, explain the opportunities and constraints that you encountered. How did you use the participants, and how did they use you? How did coverage affect the behavior of the participants? You should draw upon course materials, including class discussions and the Malecha-Reagan book.

2.  Drawing on the Malecha-Reagan book, write a memo to the Republican or Democratic leadership of the House or Senate, laying out a communications strategy to position the chamber's party for the 2016 congressional campaign.  In your analysis, take careful account of political circumstances and the party's status as the majority or minority.  Also note the different roles of the formal congressional party leadership, the party congressional campaign committees, congressional committees, and individual members.

3.  Pick a "niche" issue that is typically not at the top of the news agenda (e.g., California transportation funding, food safety, NASA funding, research on Alzheimer's Disease).  Examine coverage both in mainstream media outlets (e.g., The New York Times) and specialized media (e.g., issue blogs, social media).   What facets of the issue are showing up in the specialized media but not in the mainstream media?  Examine the interaction of the mainstream and specialized media:  is one driving coverage in the other?

4.  Compare and contrast two of President Obama's press conferences.  Why did the president hold these events when he did?  What was he trying to accomplish?  What kinds of questions did he get? How did the press conferences play in the new media and legacy media?  To what extent did he succeed?  In your research, you should watch the video of the conferences as well as reading the transcripts:  take tone and body language into account.  You will also need to do background research on the issues that came up during the press conferences.

  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. 
  • Cite your sources. Use endnotes in Turabian format. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. 
  • Return essays to the Sakai dropbox by 11:59 PM, Thursday, April 9. Essays will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness and a full grade after that. I will grant no extensions except for illness or emergency.

New and Governing: Overview

Some terms:

Meerkats and Dan Pfeiffer

Your new favorite social media application has arrived! Meerkat, an application that allows users to livestream video footage to their Twitter followers, debuted at last week's South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. It quickly caught the attention of 2016 contenders Martin O'Malley, Jeb Bush, and others, including the mainstream media. Politico dubbed 2016 the "Meerkat Election" and CBS raised concerns about privacy. Buzzfeed's Political Editor Katherine Miller took a more pragmatic approach in reminding readers of the inane and boring nature of most election events, making Meerkat not all that exciting and revolutionary most of the time. Regardless, it should be interesting to see how the app makes its way into media coverage and candidates' personal media outreach.   

Additionally, here is an interview with WH Communications Czar Dan Pfeiffer in Medium on media and modern communications strategy in the White House. One particularly interesting quote is below. 
I think that—and this one is tricky—a White House will have to have many more resources dedicated to producing content. We have a lot of people around here who write written words—speeches, talking points, press releases—and you will need people who are creating visual, graphical and video images to communicate the same message. It’s tricky because you don’t want to be in a world where it is propaganda. You’re going to have to vet this and give it scrutiny, but there is an insatiable appetite for content out there. Your traditional news outlets don’t have the resources to produce the amount of content that the Internet requires on a 24/7 basis.
There’s this funny thing where it’s like, if we put out a press release, it is accepted as a proper form of Presidential communication. But if we put out a video, that’s somehow propaganda. The mentality is going have to shift [to acknowledge that] a video is just a more shareable, more enjoyable way of communicating the same information as the press release. Everyone is going to have to adjust to that.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ted Cruz the Fireman

Early last week, Ted Cruz went on "Late Night with Seth Meyers." I found a few things about the interview and its coverage interesting.

First, the media coverage of the interview itself seemed particularly polarized. For example, here's a tweet from Salon:

And here's a tweet from CAP:

Then, from the other side, Red Alert Politics sympathizes with Cruz:

But if you watch the actual interview, it seems Meyers and Cruz, though less than friendly, were not openly hostile, as the tweets or Think Progress' picture would lead one to believe:

In addition, Cruz highlights in the interview that media coverage of his recent stump speach while campaigning in New Hampshire was exceedingly unfair. Not to pick on Salon, but here's their coverage of that event:

However, video from the event is not nearly as dramatic (starts @ 0:28):

While Cruz does damage control on exactly how much he scared the young New Hampshirite, the interview with Seth Meyers seems to have been a win-win. Meyers pressed Cruz on weighty issues and gained media attention. Meanwhile, Cruz proved to his base that he is a true conservative and even got a few shots in on the liberal media along the way.

For what it's worth PolitiFact found Cruz's scientific claims on "Late Night" to be "mostly false":