'Yelps of Outrage': White House 'Media Monitor' Helps Carney Staff Push Back Reporters on Their Tweets

The White House can play “Twitter police” with the White House press corps. Yahoo White House correspondent Olivier Knox relayed “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.”

Even instant critiques of Obama get hammered by the Carney spin patrol. The tweet watcher is 24-year-old Jessica Allen:

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.....


Including messages about breaking news stories, White House officials say, her daily total runs easily into the hundreds of emails, and many more when the president’s schedule includes a high-profile speech or a press conference.

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.

When Obama faces the media, it’s not uncommon for Allen to send out 10-12 emails, each rounding up five to six tweets just about the president’s opening statement. She will follow up with messages including notable tweets about each question asked and each response.

But it isn’t some scary “Big Brother”-style surveillance of channels designed to be private: Virtually no political reporters treat Twitter as anything but a public space...

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.

Knox included a few of his own tweets that drew complaints, including one revealing that White House aides were comparing Obama to JFK.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis