White House has a Media Monitor to Preemptively Kill Reporters’ Stories

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


bigbrothertop

It’s very creepy and very Cass Sunstein, though I have no idea if he was involved. Since reporters these days articulate what’s going through their minds on Twitter, it’s time to attack them, fact check them and even maybe target them based on their social media use.

Disrupting stories before they’re even written is much easier than damage control once they’re out there. It’s a bit Orwellian, but no doubt effective.

For the Obama White House, tweets from reporters are a kind of early warning system. It’s up to Jessica Allen, 24, to sound the alarm.

Allen, whose official title is “media monitor,” tracks journalists’ tweets and flags them in mass emails that land in the in-boxes of more than 80 Obama aides, including chief of staff Denis McDonough, White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler, press secretary Jay Carney and senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer.

The result? Reporters who regularly cover Obama have become familiar with seemingly out-of-the-blue emails or telephone calls from officials taking issue with their tweets — often thoughtfully and constructively, sometimes with obscenity-laced yelps of outrage…

While White House communications staff track her alerts closely, other officials have been known to route her messages into email folders and check them just a couple of times a day, one Obama aide said…

Instead, she watches the Twitter feeds of influential reporters for comments the White House might view as inaccurate, incomplete or unfair, as well as clues for what they are reporting and how it might portray the president or the administration…

Interestingly, the White House doesn’t often respond to reporter tweets on Twitter, preferring instead to pick up the phone or send an off-the-record email — private, one-on-one communications.

Democratic officials said the White House’s informal guidelines call for staffers to jump in on Twitter itself in three circumstances: 1) If a Republican official is involved in the exchange, 2) if the White House wants to amplify a point it considers beneficial and 3) if it sees a confrontation with a reporter as politically useful and wants to escalate it…

Allen, who generally sends her first email of the day at 7 a.m., graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in political science (international affairs). Her honors thesis was entitled “Women’s Substantive Political Representation in Uganda,” according to her LinkedIn profile.

As a senior, she worked as press intern for Obama’s re-election campaign, rising to the post of media monitor before going on to work for his 2013 inauguration committee and then joining the administration.

It’s doubtful that the timing of this story and some of Sharyl Attkisson’s recent remarks are a coincidence. Knox and Co. appear to be trying to humanize an minimize the White House’s media operation. To put a friendly and wonkish face on it. To put it into context as a mere clip service, instead of something resembling a dot com’s attempt at predicting and shaping customer behavior.

  • wileyvet

    Wow, such a dedicated apparatchik at only 24!

    • kasandra

      She should be so proud.

    • FFS

      FFS do you expect her to have a real job?

      Do you expect her to have a job like fire fighter, structural engineer, programmer or farmer?

      All she needs to know is how to read, write and defend her clique.

      She doesn’t even have to study ethics or philosophy. She would have been qualified for her job with a 6th grade education and demonstrated popularity among her classmates in Middle school.

  • http://www.clarespark.com/ Clare Spark

    If you haven’t already read 1984 or Animal Farm, it is not too late. Perhaps they will be burned along with other subversive publications. See http://clarespark.com/2012/11/17/index-to-orwell-blogs/. “Index to Orwell blogs.”

    • Mark

      Fahrenheit 451

  • mikeman

    Who pays this political operative’s salary?

  • diskusisthedumbest8

    Precisely the problem with this administration – too many 20-somethings who grew up brainwashed in a liberal progressive education. No experience, but a lot of moral superiority. Let’s get rid of these mandarins.