Editorial: Social media blunders of 2013

By Rob Nikolewski on December 29, 2013
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Here’s a New Year’s resolution for politicians: Stop using social media.

No, wait. Strike that. As a someone who covers politics, I implore politicians from the local to the national levels to keep tweeting and Facebooking to your hearts’ content because you’re making my job easier.

Judging from the foot-in-mouth fiascos of 2013, the social media have been the unintentional conduits for self-destruction.

Rob Nikolewski. Photo courtesy of Santa Fe New Mexican/Clyde Mueller.

In Washington, D.C., is, what’s the most dangerous place to be? Between Chuck Schumer and a television camera.

The media-friendly senator from New York never misses an opportunity to appear on TV, opining on whatever issue — no matter how trivial or transcendent — that a network booker deems worthy of filling the 24-hour news cycle.

Now the joke can be updated: What’s the fastest way to put your career in jeopardy? Write something impulsive in less than 140 characters and press the “send” button.

I’m not sure why so many politicos got in trouble with the social media in the past year. After all, and , so it’s not like the social media are something new and radical.

But it happens repeatedly.

In Albuquerque this past year, an official with the Bernalillo County Republican Party attended a public hearing over the debate about raising the city’s minimum wage. He took to Facebook and made offensive remarks about a woman speaking in favor of the wage hike.

Zap! Within moments he ended up getting suspended and issued an apology.

This fall, Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks nearly lost his $250,000-a-year job for tweeting rude and sexist remarks about Hanna Skandera, the secretary-designate for the Public Education Department.

Brooks apologized, although he added that he was new to the social media game and that what he wrote , which beggars belief.

If my 76-year-old mother, who regularly chimes in on Facebook to pass on news about grandchildren and the latest fast-breaking news in the quilting industry, can understand that in the 21st century what goes on the Internet can stay on the Internet — forever – then I would hope that the superintendent of  the largest school district in the state can grasp the idea as well.

Brooks ended up sounding like or that old Phil Hartman character from “Saturday Night Live” in the 1990s — “” — who disengenuoulsy appeals to a jury by talking about how fast-paced modern life frightens and confuses him.

Just last week, a after posting a tweet after the Seattle Seahawks lost a home game to the Arizona Cardinals. (By the way, that’s another annoying thing about politicians — the way they try to appeal to the everyday guy and gal by shouting their loyalty to local sports teams from the rooftops, but that’s another column.)

Anyway, the Washington pol tweeted, “Losing a football game sucks. Losing to a desert racist wasteland sucks a lot.”

He deleted the post but — remember, the Internet is forever — a TV reporter in Seattle got a screen-save of the tweet and the ritual apologizing commenced.

Of course, the social media meltdown maven, the high priest of high-tech hara-kiri is Anthony Weiner.

A promising political career imploded a couple of years ago when he took a picture of his crotch and sent it to a female college student. Or he thought he just sent it to her. Only the addled Weiner ended up sending it everyone in his Twitter profile.

He resigned from Congress but earlier this year he attempted a comeback by running for mayor of New York City after making  all the attendant apologies and promises, asserting  he was really a Boy Scout who had a weak moment.

After all, guys, who hasn’t sent pictures of their manhood to co-eds at the other end of the country?

Well, the Weiner-mobile crashed this year after — son of a gun, who would have guessed it? — other pictures taken after his 2011 scandal surfaced. R.I.P., Carlos Danger.

So, yes, politicians. Twitter and Facebook and Instagram until you blister your fingers, just so we can take an unvarnished glimpse into who you really are.

In a world of political handlers and artifice, if the social media save us from just one Anthony Weiner, they’re worth enduring all the posts about the quality of the cappuccino latte our old high school flame had on the way to work.

(This column originally ran in the on Dec. 29, 2013. You can contact Rob Nikolewski at ) 

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One Comment For This Post So Far

  1. RichardC
    10:55 pm on December 29th, 2013

    When a GOP official does it, it’s merely “offensive.” When someone who clashes with the Martinez administration does it it’s “rude and sexist.”

    Then it warrrants several other paragraphs.

    The GOP official literally called women whores. And another joked about it and egged him on.

    Right-wing “journalism” at its finest.

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