tv Twitter and Campaign Press Coverage CSPAN December 25, 2013 5:10pm-5:56pm EST
that trigger both law enforcement concerns as well as the popular press is concerned, then, suddenly, this idea of somebody listening to god and having his followers do something seems to be aberrant to national norms. >> the wesleyan university professor on the use of religious restitution in america which has been prevalent since the 1800's, even committed by the same government that is supposed to protect us from persecution. that is part of book tv this weekend on c-span two. >> cnn political reporter peter talked about the impact of twitter. he cover the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. dropped -- drew on interviews
, and this is 45 minutes. >> hello, i am james peindell tv, and peter will talk about the point of the paper and what he is trying to study and where it came from, we will ask some questions. this is new hampshire. it is a tradition. we are going to drill this guy, so, peter, welcome back to new hampshire. that is very good. this is absolutely excellent. did twitter kill the boys on the bus?
talk a little bit about the origin of why you had this topic. kind of two reasons. one, after the campaign, i was jealous, and you may have been jealous about this also. reflecting and meditating. i am not jealous of their unemployment, but i am jealous of their space, so after the campaign of 2012, i had an opportunity of fellowship at the kennedy school of government, and i had to write a paper on some aspect of the media and the political media, and i started to think about the difference and 2012, which were the two presidential campaigns that i covered, and i in thethe campaign,
bubble, as they say, with hillary clinton and mitt romney and john mccain and sarah palin, and i have lots of stories about that, but the candidates were there. their advisers were there. they were on the plane. they were talking to you. and i cannot stress enough if ,ou have read a lot of history much of the primary storytelling, the primary journalism about presidential campaigns always emerged from the bus, from the plane. you were out there on the road. i was out covering mitt romney, i went in the bubble a to times, and i never wanted go back in there again. it turned out that i was not alone in that. there were a number of other journalists who said the same thing, and it was not because we did not like mitt romney. the stapp was not there, and the candidate was not there. he was not talking, and i started to think about my
lifespan in washington and the state of local media. i moved to gcs started working before youtube, before twitter, and between then and 2013, the state of the media had just changed so much, and it had really had a strong impact on the relationship between reporters and the press and campaign operatives and candidates, and candidates are now often afraid of reporters because we have twitter. we have a iphones. everything is immediately transmitted. there is no filter. whereas when the boys on the bus were doing a documentary about the way they cover campaigns in 1972, you could go out with a candidate after a long day and have a year, and cracked jokes and crackeder jokes, and they did not find their way onto twitter, and twitter has really changed the
and i didins are run, about 70 interviews with reporters and people who worked in the romney campaign about, you know, these movements in the media, and i sat down to write a 15 page paper, and it turned into a 95 page paper, so it was kind of a cathartic exercise in that respect. pewhere is a recent research study that shows something like three percent of americans are actually on twitter. given that it has been a medium doesly of the elite, why that matter? you go so far as to say, and i do not disagree with you, and i do not disagree with pretty much anything you write, that twitter is now the number 1 -- this is where the conversation takes place -- >> the conventional wisdom used to be formed in washington or in manchester, any
state capital by and about him of tv talk shows -- by an amalgam of tv talk shows. this radiated out towards the public, and public opinion changed depending on what the media was saying. i think people should care. yes, the few study showed that 13% of americans were on twitter, and only three percent of americans were tweeting. and twitter is a collection of sort of niche communities. if you like sports, fashion, hip hop, whatever, politics, you follow people who are interested in that, and after a while, according to the operatives i talked to, you start talking to each other. you're talking about scott around, and other people are talking about scott round, and
everyone is tweeting about it. is we sortit matters of form our consensus on twitter , and that is what makes it into the new york times. that is what makes it into politico. that is what makes it onto the evening news, and that is what gets projected out there in the bigger universe, so twitter is really the gathering universe right now, and, again, i think it is really changing the way things go. some,t to back this up you started this conversation as a boy on the bus. -- then in the plane >> lots of reporters on the campaign. >> there are. >> who is in this bubble now, and why? explain this? >> in 1972 when tim wrote "the boys on the bus," the big guys were on the road, bob novak,
and, again, they were out there with the candidate, riding the big narratives that would land in the paper and drive television coverage. today, fast forward to 2012, it is a very young group of is a mixtured it of television producers. ands then in bed -- embed, basically what that means is you are invented with the candidates, and you are on body tweaked and any time he his stump speech, anytime he makes a gaffe, any he eats some silly food, you are documenting it with the video camera and writing a blog post, it that have and then you also lot of younger reporters, and then you have all of the others, andtico, huffington post, it consumes your life. if you have a family, if you are older, you now -- you cannot
live on the road for what is essentially a two year campaign. there are those willing to fly around the country, and it is pretty fun if you're like a 25- year-old kid, going out there and doing it, but the downside, according to many members of the romney campaign i talked to is that the press corps likes gravitons, experience, context. i interviewed stuart stevens, all-as romney's sort of purpose media strategist at length, and he said he talked to reporters who did not know how to read a poll, who could not recognize pretty famous political figures, like ralph robertson, and they saw this as a problem, and, again, these are the folks that work setting the narrative on twitter , really on the web, every day, and they thought that to be a major problem. >> absolutely.
also go a little bit about how obama and romney had a different strategy with the press and a different strategy about twitter itself. compare and contrast those. well, i think -- look. i laid out early on in the paper, using the romney campaign as a study of how this is changing and the internet is tough, because romney is sort of -- sort of aad cautious guy, a way to build a campaign apparatus, and the romney campaign had to play catch-up. a bigger campaign had staff. they had hundreds and hundreds of people in chicago monitoring and, again, this is not me speaking alone. any number of reporters i interviewed for this said they thought the obama campaign adapted that are to twitter.
twittere no rules about in newsrooms. this all sort of happened. like washington, the political class discovered twitter in 2009 in 2010, and that was the midterms, and then all of a sudden, we are all tweeting, and we are not thinking about it, how it is affecting the campaign strategy, so a lot of people were using this on the fly. romney campaign really kind of shut down a little bit as related to the press. theyey saw a tweet that thought was offensive, they would get mad about it. i think the obama campaign did a ander job of reaching out massaging things. i talked to david axelrod about this, and he said they learned their the guest lesson at the first debate in denver. >> talk about that. let's separate that out, because i am -- this was not well-known.
you can see it, but, boy, follow the twitter feed, this was a disaster. >> yes. it was game over. >> and you talk about this moment from ben smith. >> yes, we are in the press file for the first debate, and traditionally at a presidential debate or any debate, the consensus of what happened is sort of rendered, in the spin room afterwards, reporters talk, and this is what happened, and you trust your judgment. if you were watching twitter during the first debate, everyone, and it was not just , it was that romney looks good, presidential, and ben smith, the editor of buzz feed, a smart political god, he said why do we have to wait to say that romney won the debate? we already know.
look at twitter. hadybody says mitt romney one -- had won. you were there. the romney campaign charged in, and i believe there was stephanie and david from the obama campaign, and they could not get out of there fast enough. a did not want to be there. this was another advantage the romney campaign had with this link the primary season, was how consensus was formed on twitter during all of those debates, so they would watch the debates and see what reporters were tweeting about, so they would know what to talk about after the debates, and the obama campaign, according to david axelrod, was not really prepared for that. they were caught off guard, fill in the second debate, they were able to go with reporters throughout the debate, doing
rapid response, doing fact checks out there to different people during the debate in a way they did not do in denver, which was a total disaster for these guys. >> romney, you go around -- go on to say, twitter help to this negativet of feeling they had towards the press, because they were tweeting some stupid stuff. >> yes. that is absolutely the case. >> this is the thing. it is hard to blame the romney campaign for getting frustrated. >> right, exactly. tough,as a tough, endless cycle. again, because the candidates today are so terrified, frankly, of the press tweeting every campaignstle thing, are keeping the candidates away from reporters, the what is a reporter left to do? if you're traveling around the
country on an airplane, and nobody is talking to you -- >> spending a lot of money. >> spending a lot of money, they would spend upwards of $60,000 per week on these planes traveling with people, and it is a ton of money, and someone with the romney campaign called it and these young reporters would sit on the plane, and they would sometimes be drinking beer, and they would being snarky, so the romney campaign would say, why would i want to have these people here who are making fun of our campaign every day? making fun of his jeans or his hair or something. there was something called the orchestra pit theory, which is pretty interesting. the fox news chairman, roger, he
used to work for richard nixon. that is where he became famous. he has a theory about the political media call the orchestra pit theory, and that is you have two candidates standing on the stage. one guy says he has got a solution for the middle east peace process, and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit. what is the media going to cover? they will cover the guy who fell into the orchestra pit. there was a bunch of reporters waiting for mitt romney to fall into the orchestra pit. anwould do a speech about important issue, and then he would say something goofy about rihanna or chris brown, and that would make it. >> you also mentioned tupak. good with talking about rap. operatives,ampaign
no one sees a solution to this. i had a solution with a fairly prominent governor a few weeks ago out in arizona, and this , how can the media get better? how can we work with them better? i did not have an answer for them. they are scared. editors at newspapers are terrified for lots of reasons. the web is disrupting them. the media is scared also. a couple of questions, and i want to open this up to you, eet journalism? >> this is interesting. retweet journalism was coined by
a man who does not like reporters very much, but he understands how quickly twitter can shape things. he calls it when a reporter just s somethingweet without making a phone call to see if it is true. kim uses is at story about haley barbour, that he haley barbour was about to be indicted by the feds for tax fraud. nobody really knew who this and yet that, for whatever reason that day, that tweet, linking to some story on some blog that no one read was national by major reporters, so they are lifting this story up and putting it into the national bloodstream without bothering to check out whether it is correct or not.
sources. two >> right, two sources. and that is the problem with twitter at wmur news 9 washington post or the new york times. you have to go through your editorial process. story, you need two sources, and your editor should go that -- go through that with you before. at twitter with an equal velocity is a sketchy blog post, and they are all in that mix together. twitter has been good for a lot of ways because it is a meritocracy. it has allowed young, hungry reporters. --is actually a good time the pay may not be great, but you can punch through a ceiling that was not there five years ago if you are good, hungry, smart, funny, you have a take, you can rise up based on twitter.
it is also a good self corrector. bad journalism gets corrected pretty quickly now in a way that it did not use too. >> so let's bring it back little bit, and that i want to open it up for questions after this one. you know, in the end, you talk about what the press can do better next time. you talk about what campaigns can do better next time. if i am just a voter, what am i supposed to do? am i supposed to block all of this out? >> somebody asked me this question recently also. >> garbage. a lot of twitter is irrelevant garbage that is not going to help me make a decision about who is the best. >> look, if you're a regular person in texas or sacramento or toledo, wherever, you do not care that scott brown is in londonderry.
we care deeply. nothances are if they do care, they are not following you on twitter in the first place. i think i just wanted to write this paper to illuminate for people sort of why what they are seeing on the evening news or the today show or reading in their local paper, how that story kind of came to be in today's sort of media ecosystem, because i am not sure that everyone -- we all take twitter for granted. i mean, how many of you guys look at twitter? and how many of you guys get news on your phone? how many of you guys watched the evening news this week at least ?nce >> that is a lot. >> that is more than i thought. >> he did not say at 6:30. >> dvr. >> that is right.
>> but i was actually surprised that a lot of people did know that this was the case, that twitter really was the central watering hole, the gathering place for so many people in the press corps in washington and new york, and a big complaint, again, for a lot of reporters that route covering romney, egg and come out covering romney or whatever candidate, you want to be out there finding stories, finding color,f, but a big complaint was that a lot of editors back home in new york and d.c. were just watching ashley withday, so the new york times will get a call from her editor that says, did you see this thing on twitter that says this about romney, can you confirm this, can you confirm this? and then she spent her time running around trying to confirm that, which is the opposite of what it used to be. you used to be the one determining the news, and now the agenda is being set just on twitter, and people on the plane
are increasingly relevant, because they are not setting news every day, and the candidates are not talking about the news either. >> let's open it up for questions. we have microphones over there. so go ahead and ask away if you have a question. great. so first off, you are talking about how politicians do not really like the whole twitter agenda. to you think that is a situation where the politicians need to evolve to deal with the new communication climate, or is it that journalists should devolve and stop using twitter as this medium? >> it is a combination. 'sthink from the journalist perspective -- again, the last section of this paper, which you theread online for free, on
website, it talks about recommendations for 2016. i do think a lot of reporters that i talked to felt a little guilty about the way they behaved on twitter, and a lot of , they thinkeratives reporters need to either be trained in how to use twitter or have an editor for their tweets. even since the election, we have seen -- i do not know if you guys in the romney campaign would agree with me, but i think people are dialing it back a little bit. people are not as over-the-top and snarky and mean and chasing everything as they were during the campaign. i think we are evolving in a way of how we use twitter, which is good. editors making assignments for 2016 will have to say like, hey, just think twice before saying something. i sent a tweet once about some , andt obama was wearing
the obama press secretary fired away, and she was right. snarky tweetne a since then, to be honest, but iom a campaign perspective, was talking to and about this on the way over here. dan asked john mccain this question, do you think the straight talk express could no,t today, and mccain said there is no way. the reporters are too young. there is no filter. every little gas -- gaffe will make it out there. i talked to john todd about this, who said there might be somebody to crack the twitter code. reporters who are evolving will maybe be a little more forgiving if a candidate says something off-color, and we realize that was just a little bit of a slip up. you not worry about that. we are not going to tweet that. the other is to just shut the media out completely.
, andmpletely barraged them we will not be able to keep up, and that maybe another way. one other point i make in this paper, which i think is important in 26 teen, looking at the people who might run, jeb bush, hillary clinton. i mean, jeb bush's last statewide campaign was 2006? no, 2002. hillary clinton? look. a lot of reporters covering politics now were not even in elementary school when the clintons were in the white house, so they do not necessarily hold the clintons in the same esteem the way a lot of our other colleagues that are older in the press do. also, from hillary's perspective, she is not fluent in twitter. in 2008 when she was running, nobody was using twitter. look at somebody like chris
christie or marco rubio, who have come of age politically in the youtube/twitter era. they are kind of at ease. >> it is an asset for them. >> chris christie. sure. they know it is going to get on twitter. they are used to this political environment in a way that other candidates, like john mccain, do not, even though john mccain has a ton of followers. >> in a campaign, the last reporter with a blackberry, and goingot know how this is to work for him. it will be fascinating. he will have to figure it out. anymore questions? >> hi. great talk. very interesting.
welcome to the new hampshire institute of politics. if i am understanding this correctly, you are saying twitter is really influencing what people are putting on the news, and it is starting with twitter, and if that is the case, because i believe it is, , cnnse i use twitter breaking news, it notifies me, and i do not even have to turn on the news. i had the time, but not during finals, but if that is the case, do you think, especially with our generation -- i mean, we have a lot of different types of students here who do watch the news, but i know that there are many in their early 20's who are using their phones and twitter and facebook may be as a means of getting news. do you think that twitter is going to take the lead and surpass nightly news as our generation grows up? out dateoing to
nightly news? is twitter going to change that? >> not anytime soon, but the importance of tv is absolutely there, no question about that. did a ton of research about how people are processing the media. if you are under the age of 30 in 2012, you were not watching tv news. only about one third of people under 30 watched tv news in the last week or something like that, and mobile -- so tv, newspapers, this way. tv, this way. >> interesting, tv news was always number one, and then cable. >> even cable viewership. yes. desktop, laptop computers, pretty steady. mobile is going like that. we have made a huge investment in digital.
my paycheck now comes from because i am sort of native to that. we get all of our news on our phones, and that is ok. nightly news gets, what, 9 million viewers per night? twitter, influencing only a tiny segment of the population, but its growth potential is huge. something like 60% of the country is now on twitter, or as 90% of the country is on facebook, so facebook has kind of plateaus. twitter has got a lot of potential. it will not take over the evening news, i do think that digital as a whole will surpass it. i mean, the only reason i have cable is to watch sports and hbo. like, that is it. and c-span. obviously.
otherwise -- and i am not alone in that. i am 32 years old, and plenty of dropiends wish they can their cable subscription, but they cannot because they want news and sports, but they do not need all of those channels, and they want to watch on their own time. the commercials. >> except for cnn. you watch them all. >> except for cnn. ok? and sorry, one more point about this. in the ranks of campaign politics, there is just as big generational churn going on where people use the web all the starting --ople are in the campaign ranks, people forums asng web opposed to tv forms, and they just realize the growth potential is there for the web, whereas -- and the obama
campaign was working this out too with their tv ads. they were not just buying local news. they were buying sort of niche, targeted ads. >> go ahead. while he is asking that question, i want to ask you a question. a longer answer, i know, so i apologize. what does this mean for the primary? a system that has always been extremely transparent, town hall meeting after town hall meeting, not just reporters. everybody has got a phone. everyone can broadcast, and the idea of retail politics, it is different. it is what you saw with mitt romney. it is different for someone to kind of think it through. >> yes, i know him way more about new hampshire. but you are totally right. if you are a republican candidate running in the primary
, and we saw this in 2012, you can go on fox news and reach really directly a ton of primary , and evenfive minutes the romney campaign admitted that fox news is a safe environment for republicans, so you are not going to get asked the hard questions there. you know, i do not -- i really have a hard time. whimsical. how many primary voters are there in new hampshire? >> for the primaries? 150, depending. >> ok, so if it is like a smaller -- i think this is counterintuitive, but if it is like a smaller primary, i do think you have to go out there and shake hands, whereas in south carolina -- >> there are some risks involved. >> in south carolina, it is like half a million primary voters,
so you cannot hit everyone, so you have to go tv, radio, but, yes, the way campaigns can control their own messages, you do not have to do local media anymore necessarily. you still do, but you can create on facebook and share that, and there are no annoying reporters asking you making a when you are tweet or creating a web ad. twitter users are pretty tuned in. primary activists in new hampshire and iowa, and i see their facebook traffic. that is the way a lot of activists communicate, is on social media now, so why go on local news? they will ask you a tough wmur --i am just
saying they are weighing these things now. >> my name is scott, and since i was a fresh and, last year i was in high school, and throughout the whole 2012 election, i noticed a lot of juniors, sophomores, and freshman had these twitter accounts, and it seemed that the more twitter accounts there were for a younger group, so all of these twitter accounts will become voting, because they were not in 2012, which will most likely expand the potential, as you touched upon, so i was wondering what you think, as more twitter users to come voting age people, how you think either party could grasp onto the demographic of aretwitter users that becoming voting eligible? >> yes, that cuts to sort of what we were just talking about. find voters are tough to
and contact, and they are tough to motivate, frankly. they do not necessarily show up. so the web just as an access point to reach young voters. on twitter, social media. think -- again, this is why sort of the old media is dying and digital is rising. we all use the media in a different way than our older and you are going to get your news from twitter. in 10 years, maybe you will still be getting news from twitter, that it is just a key access. the web. >> ok. anymore questions? led is jim merrill, who mitt romney's campaign here.
>> peter, it is great having you here. to say this was a fantastic piece of work you put together with this, and i really enjoyed it, so thanks for being here. two questions. the first one, you talked about, and we all know how quickly this involved and the lack of policies and procedures to govern how this unfolded with reporters and everything else, and i remember, i think i signed up for twitter in 2008, so i remember the first time it struck me the power of the -- and and they're there there were the results coming in that i cannot get anywhere else. thereu talk about whether were any policies with news organizations that govern how the embedded reporters treated, and any change over the campaign, some issues over time, and if there were, i would be curious to know how that works, and do you expect that in 2016.
that is one, and two, talking about how it evolves, is the twitter feed the future of our candidates and elected officials? i am curious. >> i will answer the first one. coryually unfollowed booker. he would say, it was great to see you at this event, and then, love you too, bro, kind of childish, kind of unbecoming, frankly, for a u.s. senator, but who am i to say the way things are going? guidelines, look, i know from the cnn perspective, and i am certain other news organizations do, we have social media guidelines. a lot of it revolves around not tweeting out other unconfirmed information, so-called retweet
journalism. we saw this with mandela, who died. some twitter buzz about it, and cnn has pretty strict editorial policies and really good journalists, frankly, and they sent around a reminder, let's just wait until we can confirm this, so we played it safe. , i did notink so really see a lot of editorial or haveacross the board .eard of any sort of crackdowns >> it did not seem like there was. >> it did not seem like it, but he did not want his guys tweeting in name crap on twitter, and he said, only smart stuff, and we can go back and look at those tweets and see if he was right or not. i just do not think so.
i think we were all figuring out as it happened on that as you mentioned, and twitter just kind of exploded at some point in 2009, and we kind of never looked back and took a pause and said, are we doing this right? but, again, i do think, i do think -- i do not know if you agree, but the snark has died back of little bit. for real scott works clear politics, and he is a great reporter, and sometimes he will e-mail me, did you see this thing on twitter? it is so dumb. dude, just close twitter. back away. the number of reporters who said i think more clearly, i write more leisurely when i am not on twitter all day. it kind of scrambles your brain if that is what you look at first thing in the morning and the last thing you see before bed. it affects your thoughts, and also, twitter is a negative
place. not to harp on you, but pew measured the negativity of different platforms during the 2012 campaign, the tone of people talking about president obama and mitt romney, and twitter was the bottom of the barrel, below facebook. it is just a negative, snarky place, just generally, so that kind of feeds -- you absorb some of that when you're on twitter all day, so i think people are being more judicious. again, a number of editors that i talked to said they are going to think more about heading into 2016 about do tweet this, do not tweet that. >> going back to those feeds during the debates, getting to a similar level of snark. we are supposed to be objective. i guess. >> anymore questions?
i want to talk a little about about what you were saying before. think a chance to deeply about this, so how are you going to approach your job differently, or how have you already begun to view your job differently? >> well, one thing, as i just said, there are days when i just do not go on twitter. i think that is valuable. one thing that twitter did during the 2012 cycle was it made small things seem big. , endorsements, smalltime endorsements, campaign infighting. stories,called process things that will influence voters, but they are about politics, because everybody in the media was on twitter saying the same things, and if politico
had a story about some focus group sang, all of the other news organizations were inclined to chase it and confirm it, and all of a sudden, we are talking about the same small stuff. of conversations with reporters revealed that amidst all of that, there was the stuff that was really richly reported, the magazine pieces, the long form stuff, where people took the time to dig into mitt leader in theas a mormon church in beaumont, or some issues. those things landed with a pretty big impact, because amid all of this sort of surface level snowflake journalism that sort of evaporated son contact, stuffedia are --meatier --
one of the things my colleagues and i do, i do not have to write a story every day. -- wait one rate day or, god forbid, four days, to write something, and then it is richer and more valuable, and i am detect a mat from some people, and that is something i of in 2016,ore maybe stay away from the bubble, the bus and the plane, and can't out. >> an issue for buses also. the newsroom. if it is how many pages you are going to get, you can do 12 views, or youge can do one post and get 10,000. >> yes. editors have to figure out balance. there will probably still be a horde of twentysomethings who cancrank out copy so they get those links, but balance that out with reporters they can maybe step back and do bigger sort of pieces.
ifone last thing here, and there is any other questions, go ahead to the mica, but you kind of addressed this a little bit. where is this all going? are we on the cusp of something new and the way it is going to be, or are we in a transition phase, and we are figuring out how to use this better? rapid response is very simple now. the reporter publicly, not just e-mail or the phone, does the narrative is being set on twitter. people can see this interaction. is that where this is heading? >> again, i do not know. i think that -- first of all, they are using instagram throughout the campaign. sort of popped later. we just do not know.