White House Spokesman Says Tweets are Official Statements
Posted by Michael Kleen
Well, this is awkward.
A day after arguing the national news media was crazy for treating President Donald Trump’s twitter feed with the same weight as official White House policy or executive orders, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer poured gasoline on the fire by saying: “The president is the president of the United States … they [tweets] are considered official statements of the president of the United States.”
The news media, of course, held a triumph. Not only did this validate CNN Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza’s argument (et al.), but it fed into their narrative of a disorganized and rudderless White House because the statement was at odds with what other Trump advisors have said.
Now, just because Sean Spicer said they are official statements, doesn’t make them so, but it certainly makes it difficult to argue otherwise. The weight of social media is not something that will be spelled out in black and white, it’ll be determined by the conversation we’re having now.
Personal social media accounts should not carry the same weight as social media accounts officially associated with a job or public office. It’s a dangerous road when we can’t separate the man from his position. This was the problem with those National Park Service employees tweeting against the administration. I have no problem with them doing so on their own time, on their own social media accounts, but not their work accounts.
It is illegal for Federal employees to engage in politics while at work, using government equipment, and in their official capacities. This is a little more ambiguous when it comes to the military, where you can be prosecuted for criticizing the president at any time. But, essentially, the idea is that citizens of the United States have a right to express their political opinions on their own time.