When Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism website announced that he would be appearing on ABC as a pundit during their election coverage, the left wing roared a mighty roar of disapproval. Unfortunately for Jake Tapper, ABC News’s senior White House correspondent, much of the roaring was misdirected into the convenient pipeline direct to his ear: his Twitter account.
Tapper has made himself highly accessible to ABC News viewers. He deftly handles compliments, criticism and unmedicated looniness alike. His Twitter feed is an eclectic mix of news, weird news, jokes, lyrics, debates, puns, chitchat with colleagues and friends, links, replies to strangers, hashtag games and general randomness. Follow him and you’ll come away with the impression that he’s a smart, funny, friendly guy with a cute little boy. You have to like him, and respect him, darn it, even though he works for that awful liberal mainstream media.
So when the Breitbart news went viral and the left’s #boycottABCNews began, Tapper’s generally busy incoming Twitter stream turned into a deluge of protest. He only half successfully redirected some of them to a more suitable outlet for their emotion with a public service tweet:
As I’m not a member of ABC News Management, maybe you could share your thoughts with @ABCNewsNews. thanks! have a good weekend
But many still felt it wouldn’t be nearly as fun and cathartic to lodge a serious, thoughtful grievance with some anonymous person in the public relations department as it would be to rail at Tapper. In addition to other informational tweets such as this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this, he picked representative incoming tweets (or friendly joshing ones) and responded for all:
@TLW3 so you WERE serious? dude, this wasn’t MY decision. my only decision on election night is what will i say when they come to me.
@TLW3 didnt defend anything. my point was it’s silly to get mad at me for decisions i had zero to do with.
@marcslove the thing is, as u know, I do listen to ppl here. And they are loudest when they’re civil.
@tomtomorrow yes, you’re right, this past year is rampant with evidence that ABC News management is in the palm of my hand.
Even a journalism professional watching from afar, last week’s Twinterview subject NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, got things mixed up when Rosen tweeted what he thought was the essence of Tapper’s comments:
Tapper had to get the record corrected, tweeting Rosen back:
@jayrosen_nyu not at all what I said. I gave them abc news twitter handle and contact info. I said don’t get mad at me about decision.
That’s true, as evidence by the links above.
The Twitter community is a unique creature. Through retweets, messages get passed down the grapevine, alerting subsets that one of their own is under attack and rallying the group to action. With the Breitbart controversy, the whole situation soon led to a Twitter hashtag game, #blamejake, in which tweeters took the opportunity to come up with faux pas and tragedies that had to have been Jake Tapper’s fault, an amateur-hour tweet roast, with one-liners such as:
new coke? #blamejake
What about greenlighting THREE Bob Saget shows? #blamejake
Outside of Twitterland, ABC eventually withdrew their offer to Breitbart and lost conservative viewers such as myself who were looking forward to seeing the analysis he could have brought to the table. The left declared victory and the world moved on.
Through it all, Tapper proved that he could do what most news reporters can’t do (at least as smoothly as he): helpfully engage with an enraged mob, mollify the mob and then get the mob to create jokes in your honor.
I knew Twitter master and wordsmith Tapper would be up to the challenge of a two-tweet interview on his tweet life, but would he consent to one? Yes, he would. Here we go.
If you are interested in watching Tapper’s pun wars, you’ll need to also follow his awfully worthy adversaries: Oliver Knox (@OKnox), correspondent for Agence France-Press (AFP); Adam Rogers (@jetjocko), senior editor at Wired; and @delrayser, an intellectual properties lawyer (at least according to his Twitter bio).
Thanks to Jake Tapper for participating in this Q and A. If there are any errors in it, #blamejake.