Lessons from the Twitterverse

B. Jay Cooper
4 min readDec 12, 2019

The other day I did something I rarely do. I commented on a Twitter tweet posted by a friend/acquaintance. I did it intentionally for one reason. I was, I thought, adding a clarifying fact to his post.

This friend/acquaintance I’ve known for about 30 years. He’s not a friend I’d spent any time with. He is more a professional friend. He, though, has nearly 400,000 followers on Twitter (I have 447 but that’s not the point). And his name isn’t important either because my learned lessons had little to do with him personally.

His tweet pointed out that CNN was not covering the Justice Department’s inspector general hearing live. I realized that CNN was teasing the hearing, but it wasn’t on air at that moment. What CNN did was make the news judgement that the opening statements by members — typically focused solely on partisan points of view — weren’t newsworthy so they didn’t carry them. They did, though, cover the hearing live when it moved on to the testimony.

So, I responded to him that fact. He responded within seconds pointing out that CNN did air the opening statements of the Democratic chairs on the impeachment hearings live but wasn’t carrying the Senate’s Republican chairman. He instructed me, “don’t defend their double standard.” I said something like, true but I could have lived happily not hearing those Democratic opening statements too. (I’m not exactly sure why he felt the need to instruct me what to do, but that’s not the key point either).

The news judgement was, apparently, that the impeachment hearings and the inspector general hearing on a report are not equal. Thus the opening statements had different import in each case.

Then the “likes” and comments came rolling through from my friend/acquaintance’s nearly 400,000 followers both “liking” his responses to me and, sometimes, adding their own. They said I was missing the point (though I’m not sure I really am. CNN made a news judgement like every other mainstream media outlet — print or broadcast — does all the time. I saw that as a correct judgement, they saw it as evidence of CNN’s bias against President Trump.) But that’s not the point either.

I don’t comment often on other people’s Tweets but I do use Twitter as one platform for distributing this blog.

Even though my name on my Twitter account is “B. Jay Cooper” one responder said “perfect initials.” Obviously meaning the “BJ” and the various things (though he clearly…

B. Jay Cooper

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: bjaycooper.com.