Here’s some free PR advice for Rep. Aaron Schock‘s (R-Ill.) senior advisor Benjamin Cole: Next time you don’t want a reporter writing about your boss’s comments to a room full of millennials about millennials, perhaps you should have him stay home.
Or maybe it’s you who should stay home.
On Wednesday morning, The Mirror covered The Atlantic and National Journal‘s panel at Microsoft. Shock showed up as the final speaker followed by an interview with editor-at-large Steve Clemons.
Like many participants in the conference, including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Schock spoke of the importance of social media in spreading his message. He said he didn’t come to Congress to become an “old crusty.” He said he thought some of his older colleagues would have more wisdom. Instead, many just like to hear themselves speak.
Clemons asked Schock if his elders feared him for being so well-versed in social media such as Instagram and Twitter. Schock paused and replied, “Um, what I would say is this. It’s a very delicate balance. Part of it is you sharing your perspective. Obviously I did not join this body to become what I call are the old crusties. But I also can’t be successful as an island. Yeah, if you go surfing or post a photo that an 80-year-old wouldn’t, you get a chuckle.”
Afterward, I approached Schock, who couldn’t have been more warm and welcoming to my questions. He didn’t dismiss me, avoid me or act like he had more important things to do. Dare I call him incredibly down-to-earth and normal?
I asked Schock about dealing with the media and what it was like being a congressman in the era of social media, when any dumb thing they say or do can go viral. I brought up the instance of Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), now the ear wax congressman for digging for wax at a recent hearing and then eating it. Schock, despite being an avid social media lawmaker, hadn’t heard about it. So his senior advisor filled him in and quickly shut down my brief interview.
No big deal. It happens. I wrote my story.
Today, this is the thanks I received from Schock’s gatekeeper Benjamin Cole. Apparently he found the story without my help because he sent me a link to it. Which, of course, I really appreciate since I don’t know how to find my own stories. Please note the crack on BuzzFeed, which editor-in-chief Ben Smith will undoubtedly appreciate. By the way, my response to Mr. Cole is the picture above. The message is: Kiss my ass.
I appreciate your coverage of the event, though I am a little curious about the need to mention the earwax issue, my statements to you, and describe staff in your piece. And then, you mention that I asked you to send me the link, but don’t actually send me the link?
And were you really surprised that Mr. Schock didn’t know about a Democratic congressman eating his earwax on TV? Fortunately, for the people of the 18th Congressional District, Mr. Schock doesn’t spend his time tracking tabloids, blogs, buzzfeeds, etc. about the various Washington shenanigans, particularly those of his Democratic colleagues.
At the end, I suppose I’m concerned that you took a serious speech about serious issues that was engaging and thoughtful and made it about earwax and selfies and crusty old men. And we did have a prior commitment to provide a post-speech interview with a reporter. In the future, if you’d like to schedule something with Mr. Schock at an event where he’s speaking and you are covering, don’t hesitate to give me a heads up.
Congressman Aaron Schock (IL-18)
328 Cannon House Office Building
Washington DC, 20515