The Players: Neil Munro, reporter for The Daily Caller--a news site founded by Tucker Carlson; Jennifer Preston, Social Media Reporter for The New York Times
The Opening Serve: On Friday morning, after President Obama's call to tweet, Jennifer Preston tweeted at two White House aides asking if there was a particular Twitter hashtag that White House officials were using. Macon Phillips, the White House's new media director responded, with "#compromise" minutes later. This caught Munro's eye. Shortly before noon, and a little over an hour after Preston's tweet, his story went up. "Times's Jennifer Preston suggested that administration officials might create a hashtag," he wrote in his piece, which accuses Preston of "prompting" the White House. "So tweeting Democrats could jointly target Republicans who are now trying to pass their own debt ceiling plan." At the conclusion of Munro's brief he writes "For Preston, the entire episode is much ado about nothing, but the experience shows how easy it is to be misinterpreted in messages that are limited to 140 characters." Minutes later, the Daily Caller's Twitter feed pointed to Munro's article. "Hmmm.....New York Times reporter advises White House media staff on Twitter," it said, accompanied by the a "#media #bias" set of hashtags.
The Return Volley: The story of Preston's perceived advisement caught fire. Drudge Report linked to Munro's story, Fox News ran "New York Times Helps Obama Alinsky Republicans on Twitter" as a headline and Andrew Malcolm of the Los Angeles Times wrote "A New York Times reporter this morning offered White House communications folks an unsolicited tip on using Twitter to drive improved public support for President Obama's stance in the debt ceiling negotiations. And within minutes they took it."