The biting, anonymous Twitter account that criticized the Obama administration and reportedly got a White House staffer fired didn’t pull any punches -- but it also didn’t reach very far.
@NatSecWonk had fewer than 1,600 followers at the time it was deleted, according to the Twitter analytics sites Topsy and Favstar. And while the account published a handful of tweets that were shared by a wider audience, it was mostly popular only among a small group of D.C. journalists, analysts and political staffers. In other words, national security wonks.
The person behind @NatSecWonk, reportedly National Security Council staffer Jofi Joseph, built that audience gradually over the past 22 months, tweeting flip (often profane) observations about the State Department, the White House and the journalists who covered them. "I'm an ass at times on Twitter, I freely admit," he tweeted in September.
His favorite topics apparently included Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whom he complained about repeatedly. He also regularly trolled the work of Eli Lake and Josh Rogin, both reporters at the Daily Beast, asking in July, "when was the last time you read a tough piece on GOP Members of Congress and their policies from @EliLake and @joshrogin? Yeah, me neither." Rogin later outed Joseph as the author of @NatSecWonk.
His most popular tweet of all time, however, was a relatively staid prediction on the career of General David Petraeus as compared to that of Paula Broadwell, the woman he had an affair with. That earned 26 retweets -- a solid number for a small account, sure, but not exactly blockbuster virality.
While @NatSecWonk’s tweets didn’t circulate widely, though, they did earn the attention of a certain well-connected Washington clique. The account traded tweets at one point or another with a range of insiders, from journalists Jake Tapper and Jeffrey Goldberg to Michael McFaul, the current U.S. ambassador to Russia, and David Wade, John Kerry’s chief of staff. It seems to have touched a few nerves along the way.
“It must be great to have bosses who let you tweet under an anonymous account like this,” Lake tweeted to @NatSecWonk in March.