TAPPER, TWITTER, AND ONLINE ETIQUETTE…. It was bound to be of interest to the political world anyway, but ABC News’ Jake Tapper helped get the ball rolling on the Special Olympics/Obama story last night. He was first out of the gate with a news item and a report on the president’s comment on his Twitter feed.
Not surprisingly, this generated the inevitable Drudge link. Tapper kept the discussion going with additional thoughts on potential Democratic hypocrisy (what if Bush had said the same thing) and potential Republican hypocrisy (conservatives usually hate political correctness).
My friend Adam Serwer noted some hypocrisy of his own:
Funny, I was thinking the same thing about press who moments ago believed the president had “too much on his plate” now deciding that the country should spend a whole day talking about an offensive joke.
In any case, you should know that Tapper’s really disappointed about his 9 PM blog post getting picked up by Drudge, possibly driving the day and leading to all this “hypocrisy” when we have two wars and an economic crisis to deal with. That’s the last thing Tapper wanted when he hyped this “breaking” news last night.
Soon after, Tapper blocked Adam from following his Twitter feed.
And around the same time, TPM was tweaking Tapper over his Twitter observations. So, Tapper blocked TPM from following his Twitter feed, too.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on Twitter etiquette; I’m not even on Twitter. But blocking those who offer mild criticism seems kind of petty. When it comes from a journalist who frequently addresses the importance of transparency, it’s especially bad form.
Update: It looks like Tapper realizes he’d made a mistake, and unblocked TPM. Good for Jake. No word, though, about lifting the block on the others, including Adam.
Second Update: All’s well that ends well, and Tapper, to his credit, has unblocked those who’d been blocked.
Third Update: In the interest of a complete record, here’s Tapper’s explaination of what transpired, written before TPM, Adam, and others were unblocked: “I’m trying to use Twitter as a way to communicate with all sorts of people from all over the political spectrum, as a place for feedback, polite argument, and dialogue. I learned that the AP was taking Coach K’s quote out of context from a Tweet; it ended up on Good Morning America this morning. I want this way to talk to people. I don’t want it to turn into what the comment section of my blog has become. The only people who have been blocked are people who make ad hominem attacks. They’re still fully able to read my Tweets — I just don’t care to read theirs.”
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Adam or TPM made “ad hominem attacks” before getting blocked, but let’s just move on, shall we?
Fourth Update: Apparently, the addendums weren’t quite clear enough, so let’s try this again.
To review, Tapper wrote a few items on Twitter. TPM, Serwer, and others wrote related items, which were critical of Tapper. Tapper then blocked TPM, Serwer, and others (though they, like anyone else could still log on to Twitter and read Tapper’s tweets). When this generated some attention, Tapper unblocked TPM and said, “My bad.” Soon after, Tapper unblocked Serwer and the others, too. I then credited Tapper for doing the right thing.
By late Friday, Tapper explained this had nothing to do with transparency, and was simply about blocking those who “make ad hominem attacks.” (Blocking people on Twitter is a bit like blocking abusive blog commenters — they can still read your content, but you don’t have to read their responses.)
I sincerely hope this is the last we’ll speak of this.