Somehow it always seems to be the intern’s fault.
Social media exposes public officials and organizations to deeper scrutiny. Every word is dissected, analyzed and critiqued. So when, particularly on Twitter, a message comes across as unseemly, unkind or just plain weird, there are public relations ramifications.
Look no further than Wednesday’s Twitter brouhaha between Amnesty International and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The D.C. think tank told the human rights group, which had representatives in Ferguson, Mo., to “suck it” in a tweet. Ouch.
After apologizing on and off Twitter, Andrew Schwartz , senior vice president of external relations at CSIS, told our colleagues that an intern sent the message.
“He meant to send something reflecting his personal views from his personal Twitter account,” Schwartz said.
Now why does that sound familiar?
Probably because often, when there is a Twitter faux pas, the culprit is the intern.
And in that spirit, the Loop has rounded up some of the best intern social-media slip-ups:
● July 2014: The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water posted a peculiar tweet about reaching C-list celebrity status in a Kim Kardashian smartphone game. The tweet prompted 88-year-old Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to check in on the EPA to make sure it was okay and still focused on clean water.
Explanation: “An EPA fellow inadvertently triggered an auto-generated tweet,” an EPA spokeswoman said.
● February 2014: Utah state Rep. Jacob Anderegg (R) joked on Twitter that he was changing his identity to be able to use the women’s bathroom because the men’s room was occupied. Utah state Senate President Wayne Niederhauser (R) responded on Twitter with a reference to Anderegg’s support for a gay rights anti-discrimination bill: “First supporting SB 100, now switching your gender identity? Just can’t keep up with you. You’re a new man! erm . . . woman. . .,” the tweet said.
Explanation: It was “an intern tweet.”
● January 2012: It’s not just an American problem. A tweet from the Twitter account of a member of Britain’s Parliament said: “I should log out of my twitter so that my intern doesn’t twit-rape me.”
Explanation: An intern logged on to her boss’s account and tweeted it as a joke. She apologized.
● June 2011: It was curious when the office account of then-Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), an opponent of gay marriage, retweeted a pro-gay message in response to a homophobic “joke” by comedian Tracy Morgan. West’s official account retweeted from the band the Scissor Sisters: “Dear Tracy Morgan’s son: if you are gay, you can TOTALLY come live with me. We’ll read James Baldwin & watch Paris is Burning. XxANA”
Explanation: “We were not hacked, an intern made an error,” West’s office tweeted. The intern was fired.
And, just for fun, here are some other Twitter flubs:
● August 2014: The office account of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) retweeted a picture of raw chicken tenders strewn over a burning stovetop with the caption: “h--- yeah benihana up in this b---h.” It was quickly deleted.
Explanation: A staffer (not an intern!) retweeted it by mistake.
● November 2013: The National Republican Senatorial Committee tweeted an article with a picture of Allison Lundergan Grimes’s face on the body of “Obama Girl,” the woman who made viral videos about her crush on Barack Obama in 2007. The tweet asked whether Grimes was the new “Obama Girl.”
Explanation: The NRSC called the tweet offensive and said it was done by a “junior staffer.”
From our archives:
●December 2008: It wasn’t Twitter and he wasn’t an intern, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention an old scoop we had when Obama campaign speechwriter Jon Favreau was photographed cupping the chest of a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout. It was then posted on Facebook and sent to us.
Explanation: Favreau apologized to Clinton, who took it in stride. Her spokesman said Clinton, who had already been nominated to be secretary of state, was reviewing his application.
A White House petition created days after 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., surpassed 100,000 signatures, the threshold that now requires the Obama administration to respond.
Posted to the White House’s “We the People” page, the petition calls for all “state, county and local” police to wear cameras. The creator, “J.C” from Hephzibah, Ga., called it the “Mike Brown Law.”
The petition cleared 100,000 signers on Tuesday, and as of Wednesday afternoon it had 130,599 signatures.
Since the Aug. 9 shooting of the unarmed teenager, there have been widespread calls for police to wear cameras on their vests. If Officer Darren Wilson had been wearing one when he shot Brown, questions about how the shooting unfolded might have been answered.
Ferguson police said Tuesday in a statement that the department would raise money to purchase cameras for police vests and for police cruiser dashboards.
President Obama has been cautious so far in his comments about the Brown shooting and the resulting protests and riots that have rocked Ferguson since then. “When they’re conducting an investigation, I’ve got to make sure that I don’t look like I’m putting my thumb on the scales one way or the other,” Obama said Monday.
An administration official told the Loop in an e-mail that the White House would respond to the Michael Brown petition, but did not offer a time frame.
“Every petition that crosses the threshold is reviewed by the appropriate staff and receives a response,” the official wrote.
Other petitions with more than 100,000 signatures awaiting an administration response include: “Pardon Edward Snowden , “Declare Muslim Brotherhood organization as a terrorist group” and “Condemn the Apartheid State of Israel for their Human Rights Violations against the Palestinian peoples.”
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz