When a Politician’s on Twitter, Who’s Really Sending the Tweets?

One “ghost Twitterer” says politicians hand over their accounts to employees like him all the time, but they’re still working for the politician.

By Laura RiceNovember 2, 2016 10:55 am

We know that, despite the pictures of Obama studying his Blackberry on Air Force One, he’s not really wandering the halls of the West Wing counting retweets and pushing out comments.

Like Obama, most genuinely busy politicians get others to tweet for them – which brings us to the story of Sid Miller.

The Texas agriculture commissioner, who clearly does have some time on his hands (given the reports of his personal travels), insists it was a staffer, using his Twitter account, who posted an offensive tweet making national headlines today.

Miller’s account posted a screenshot of poll results from another Twitter user that showed Trump at 44 percent and Clinton at 42 percent – only it didn’t say Clinton. It said a four-letter word that also starts with C.

The tweet was deleted after 15 minutes, but not quickly enough to avoid an avalanche of recriminations from Texans across party lines. Miller had first said his account had been hacked but then says a staffer who tweeted in his stead has been disciplined, but not fired.

A social media consultant who works with candidates and officials says politicos hand over their accounts to staffers all the time. He himself works as a ghost Twitterer for a prominent Texas politician – we’re calling him Bill because he agreed to speak with us under the condition of anonymity.

“It looks like what the campaign had been doing is going through some of the people that he follows and copying and pasting the text from the tweets into a new, unique tweet,” he says. “In this case, it happened to be a poll in Pennsylvania and it’s remarkable to me that it was missed.”

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Tweets and reactions from Texans and other politicians about Miller’s since-deleted tweet

– What should have been done before Miller’s account posted that tweet

– Who should be held accountable and whether Sid Miller himself should have taken the fall