'Snow Fun on Twitter
Political beef in 140 characters or less
By Richard Whittaker, 3:59PM, Fri. Feb. 4, 2011
It was a normal day in the Twitterverse: @MattGlazer of Burnt Orange Report, @LonghornDerek from Ryan Data and @MQSullivan of Empower Texans were trading jibes. Then someone chimes in and tells Glazer to stop breathing, and a healthy exchange of insults turned ugly.
The argument, unsurprisingly, revolved around whether today's weather is related to global climate change. This is when @DustinMatocha added:
You could start curbing it by stop exhaling it. RT @MattGlazer: We know CO2 is cause, so let's curb it.Now this would seem like the normal kind of comment in a free-for-all Tweet-off like this: That is, if it wasn't for the fact that Matocha is also social media coordinator for Empower Texans (which would make Sullivan his boss.)
Glazer forwarded this to the media, replying to Matocha
wow! thanks for chiming in. really didn't expect death threat today (CC: @LegeLand @statesman @KVUE @KXAN_News @mqsullivan)
Matocha first claimed then he didn't mean for his comments to be taken literally, then retweeted a tweet from @Omarg (aka Omar Gallaga of the Statesman) that accused himself and Glazer of being "silly and thin-skinned," then added that it didn't really matter because he wasn't commenting in any official capacity. As he tweeted to Texas Democratic Trust communications specialist Phillip Martin:
funny, you keeping spelling @dustinmatocha as "@empowertexans". Already have your facts wrong. (get 'em Politifact!)That would probably fly more if it the link on his personal Twitter account wasn't to (drumroll, please) empowertexans.com.
I guess that means @EmpowerTexans are Longhorn fans since I tweet about UT too. #yourlogicisflawed
And then it got ugly. Glazer pointed out that some of Matocha's Twitter followers feature serious anti-government, "Second Amendment remedies"-style rhetoric on their websites.
@omarg I have received 10 e-mails since this started with similar gun images. Rhetoric has consequences Omar.
After this, the discussion seemed to subside, with Glazer and Ryan discussing the best way to stay warm on a cold day. Meanwhile Sullivan retweeted an incorrect tweet that claimed that Ronald Reagan said "Facts are stubborn things" (in fact, it was John Adams that said stubborn: Reagan called them stupid.)
But there is a more serious question here. Campaign pros and the politerati know that Twitter fights are normally about as serious as diss tracks in a rap beef. But smart rappers know that beef swirls out of control, and you need to think about what your posse does. Especially when your posse might be armed.
(Note: Omar Gallaga has asked that we clarify that, even though his tweet read "@MattGlazer @DustinMatocha Alerting the media makes you look silly and thin-skinned. It's the Internet. Grow up." he was only actually talking to Glazer.)