The Mirror

Washington Examiner Editor Schools Staff In Proper Twitter Etiquette After Ocasio-Cortez Fiasco

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Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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Among the cardinal workplace rules of journalism are as follows: Don’t publicly badmouth your colleagues even if, especially if, you think they’ve done something dumb.

Flush the toilet.

And basically: Don’t be an asshole.

In the wake of Washington Examiner media writer Eddie Scarry tweeting out a picture of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and saying, “I’ll tell you something: That jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles,” the publication is dealing with internal issues. Primarily staffers who took it upon themselves to publicly distance themselves from their own publication.

So here is the original tweet:


It wasn’t enough that the situation reached DEFCON 1 and upwards of twenty thousand people — including Ocasio-Cortez — responding to Scarry’s tweet. Some of his colleagues felt they had to add their morally superior two cents too.

“It’s really inappropriate to criticize colleagues publicly,” a Washington reporter confided to The Mirror Friday.

Hugo Gurdon, the editorial director of the Washington Examiner, said as much in a three-paragraph internal email he sent out Friday. Let’s hope it served to calm the delicate nerves of Washington Examiner employees who somehow think that making themselves look “good” rises above the importance of newsroom loyalty. In other words, you’re not supposed to shit on your own company.

I need once again to raise serious concern about the use of social media. A staff member sent out a tweet on Thursday that was ill-judged on a number of levels. He should not have done so, it is regrettable, and it is being dealt with by newsroom management. We trust that it will not happen again.

I get it that several of you found the original tweet offensive, and I can see why, but going public is not the appropriate response. It only compounds the problem. I am available at most times to discuss concerns about such delicate subjects as these. My door is open to you, and so are those of Toby and Phil and Tim. This should be your approach when you feel aggrieved. We are committed to having an inclusive and supportive workplace in which different viewpoints are valued and listened to.

Ironically, this month’s PALS lesson on online security focuses on precisely these problems relating to social media. These lessons are intended to protect you and to protect the Washington Examiner, and I would ask that you read them carefully, absorb their instructions, and act on them. Thursday’s events show that staff members are not taking these lessons seriously enough. You need to do so. It will be expected of you.

Thank you, Hugo

Some of Scarry’s colleagues who didn’t appreciate his observation skills said the following:

The Examiner‘s social media guy Steve Beynon took it upon himself to give his own publication a spanking. How big of him to rep the entire publication.

“This is a bad moment & does not represent @dcexaminer,” he tweeted. “The Congresswoman-elect deserves more respect.”

When asked for comment about his coworkers shitting on him, Scarry declined.

After Scarry’s tweet went viral and strangers said all the nasty things they do in situations like these — thousands of times over, they threatened his life, told him what a terrible person he is and called his flowered tie ugly — the reporter ultimately deleted his tweet.

Not all Washington journalists bought his explanation.

“I think the tweet was pretty fucking stupid, and I honestly have no problem with him getting his ass dragged,” a longtime member of Washington’s media class anonymously told The Mirror. “I’m mostly impressed how quickly he joined the Twitter Ratio Hall of Fame.”

Even conservative Twitter ethicist Mike Cernovich didn’t approve of Scarry’s original tweet and had advice.

“Delete this,” he wrote.

To which Scarry replied, “…Come onnnn.”

CNN’s Sara Murray also scolded Scarry.

“Is this what passes for reporting now?” she asked on Twitter. “In a recent interview she actually said she got a Rent the Runway subscription as a gift. (It retails for $139 a month.) I look forward to your important journalistic updates on what the incoming male members are sporting.”

Scarry had a snappy comeback.

“CNN can take a seat, because we all know what your problems are,” he wrote. Though I confess Jim Acosta’s suits are well put together.”

The pelting went on relentlessly.

Alex Leo, former VP of The Daily Beast, focused on the important stuff. “This tie does not look like  a man who has a mirror,” she snarked.

Scarry replied, “You don’t get to mock a very fashionable tie.”

Finally, Ocasio-Cortez replied to the tweet that went around the world.

Between this memo and whatever Kindergarten training the Washington Examiner employees are getting to bone up on their social media skills, hopefully now Scarry’s coworkers can — at least publicly — shut their pie holes.