Tweeting From The White House

Here’s a Politico piece that describes how White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton are using their Twitter accounts to correct and/or clarify press reports concerning President Obama. Burton just recently sent a tweet correcting a Washington Post report stating that the President and Ms. Obama spent this Valentine’s Day in Chicago. Burton pointed out that the couple were there for Valentine’s Day 2009, but not this year. Apparently, Gibbs and Burton were inspired to get active on Twitter when they observed how many of the White House Press Corps were themselves sending tweets during briefings. One interesting aspect of this use of Twitter is whether it will have any impact on how courts view “public figures.” Currently, one justification for why it is harder for a public figure to prevail in a libel suit is that public figures have better access to “the media.” But if “media” increasingly includes social network platforms like Facebook and Twitter there’s a legitimate question about whether this “access” issue continues to make a difference. We will see.