Taking re-tweeting to the extreme

TAKING RE-TWEETING TO THE EXTREME…. CNN’s Political Ticker blog ran an item yesterday about Newt Gingrich blasting President Obama over the decision of the International Olympic Committee.

@newtgingrich Somehow charm and oratory dont seem to work in foreign affirs but historians have warned that foreign policy is different than campaigning

@newtgingrich President Eisenhower had a rule that Presidents of the United States went to the meetings after success had been assured

@newtgingrich President Obama fails to get the Olympics while unemployment goes to 9.8% Iran continues nuclear program. America needs focused leadership

That’s it. That’s the entire story. No context, no analysis, no fact-checking, no depth, not even a response from the other side. Gingrich took a few cheap shots, and CNN decided to just pass them along to their national audience, as-is.

Gingrich’s dumb tweets, in other words, are a news story, according to CNN. I haven’t the foggiest idea why.

Atrios asked a good question in May: “[Y]ou know, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has precisely zero power but his every pronouncement is treated as Incredibly Important News. Any journalists want to explain why?”

I’d really love to hear an answer.

We’re talking about a disgraced, scandal-plagued politician who was forced from public office — by his own party — more than a decade ago. What difference does it make if he trashes the president on his Twitter account?

Remember Jim Wright and Tom Foley? They were the House speakers before Gingrich. If they had a few tweets saying supportive things about the White House, would CNN have run an item about their comments, passing them along as self-evidently newsworthy? If the answer is “no,” and I think reasonable people would agree that it is, then CNN’s piece yesterday is absurd.

Eric Boehlert had a good take on this recently: “[A]s often happens when I read breaking, this-is-what-Newt-said dispatches, I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks?’ And I don’t mean that in the partisan sense. I mean it in the journalistic sense: How do Gingrich’s daily pronouncements about the fundamental dishonesty of Democrats (Newt’s favorite phrase) translate into news? Why does the press, 10 years after Gingrich was forced out of office, still treat his every partisan utterance as a newsworthy occurrence? In other words, why does the press still treat him like he’s speaker of the House? It’s unprecedented.”

Eric wrote that nearly five months ago. It’s still true.