Kathy Riordan

Kathy Riordan
Florida, United States
April 27
One woman's view of life and the universe. Follow @katriord on Twitter.


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SEPTEMBER 15, 2009 8:26AM

ABC Moran's Premature Tweet: Did Obama Call Kanye a Jackass?

Rate: 12 Flag

(UPDATED: now, with audio AND video.  See below.)


It's all a question of tweeting prematurely.

Did ABC's @TerryMoran dash off a tweet into the Twittersphere quoting US President Barack Obama calling Kanye West a jackass?

He did.

The tweet has since disappeared, and ABC has issued an apology for the Nightline co-anchor's disclosure of what was apparently an off-the-record comment by Obama during an interview that had not yet been edited.

It raises questions about journalists and media accounts shooting from the hip on the microblogosphere.

The comments from the president were reportedly made off-the-record during an interview with CNBC, who objected to the tweet.  

Politico was first to report ABC's apology, quoting an ABC spokesperson as stating that Moran had tweeted "before our editorial process had been completed.  That was wrong.  We apologize to the White House and CNBC and are taking steps to ensure that will not happen again."  CNBC and the White House have not yet commented on the slip of the tweet.

More and more journalists are breaking news and leaking information on Twitter before it goes to the rest of the universe.  ABC's Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper's (@jaketapper) late night tweet on Bill Clinton's departure to North Korea to try to gain the release of the two American journalists was the first word most media outlets had of the surprise trip by the former president. 

Moran has not tweeted since.  It was his first tweet since September 10th, when he commented on Congressman Joe Wilson heckling President Obama during his health-care speech.  



TerryMoranPres. Obama just called Kanye West a "jackass" for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential.

about 14 hours ago from web · Reply · View Tweet 

The premature tweet from ABC's Terry Moran @TerryMoran that set the Twittersphere aflame late Monday night.  Although it has disappeared from the official Twitter stream, it can still be accessed on search. 


UPDATE: TMZ has obtained an audio clip, here.

And, finally, the video of the off-the-record comment:

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Off the record, but on target! Obama should take full credit for this. Who'll complain?
Twitter - what a revalation. Perhaps its just another word for what journalists do when they stop being journalists and all become millionaire gossip columnists.
I'm there with the donkey. I don't mind my prez keeping it real.

As for all the apologies, my god...is THIS what we consider "news" or "leaks"? Watergate just rolled over in its grave!

Who gives a flying rat's ass about West or, frankly, Obama's opinion on it? Give me some $#@$#ing health insurance!
"Did Obama call Kanye a jackass?"

God, I hope so.
Thanks for the comments, all. I'm more interested in the question of premature tweetalation, and journalists shooting from the hip, than whether or not POTUS made an off-the-record remark, which might or might not have happened, and might or might not be on target.

benjamin--Could be. Do you think when he said it, even off-the-record, he thought it might appear online somewhere? It makes one wonder, after the school speech and the comments about kids watching what they post on Facebook.

Tim--Might be. I do know some journalists who use Twitter and use it well, whether or not all do responsibly. I'm interested in the questions tweeting like this raises, however.

Beth--The whole Joe Wilson-Serena-Kanye triangle really has everyone's eye off the ball at the moment. I see black helicopters. You're right about perspective. As noted above, my interest is primarily in the slip of the tweet, not the comment itself.

jane--See me comments to Benjamin. Do you think the POTUS thought about it when he said it, even off-the-record, and knew it might end up online, in the YouTube age?

I note Twitter recently updated its Terms of Service, to include this helpful tip to users:

"What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly. You are what you Tweet!"

And sometimes, you have to eat what you tweet.
For the record, I feel very strongly that things that are "off-the-record" should be just that. Off. Not disclosed.

I'm always interested to see how headlines translate to the cover. As noted above, my own focus is on the first half of the headline to this article, the issue of the premature tweet. I might have done that on a cover as "Slip of the Tweet.' That it appears on the OS cover focusing on the second half likely appeals more to Google searches, but doesn't accurately reflect my own focus on the question at the center of the article, the ethics of tweeting prematurely.
WAH--Or "premature tweetalation." It seems to call for Bob Dole somehow.
1. Kanye West IS a jackass, and Obama's right on this one.

2. Didn't Bush accidentally call a reporter a "major-league asshole" when his microphone was on? As I recall, the furor over that sort of faded away after a week or so. Even people who really, really hated Bush realized that they've said similar things.

3. The reporter was stupid to Tweet this off-the-cuff, off-the-record remark, because the furor over OH MY GOD THE PRESIDENT SAID A CUSS WORD HIDE THE CHILDREN! will die down (I'd wager that most of the country would agree with Obama that Kanye West acted like a jackass at the VMAs), but the reporter destroyed a lot of his credibility and seriousness.
I believe strongly in off-the-record 2. (Rated).

However, I wonder if the universe wasn't dealing Obama a balancing card in terms of his ability to call things ridiculous across race lines (Gates incident). In terms of Joan's latest piece, "Blackening of the President", this may show the even-handed diplomacy of our president in such, well, ridiculous matters.
Leaandra--Regarding #3, exactly.

Jeanette--Likely. It would be an easy call.
Cool bit of news, but Kanye fatigue has officially set in ...
It's the double-edged sword of the forth estate. Politicians used to have a respectful zone of privacy for personal affairs under which many of them had, well, personal affairs.

Watergate opened a pandora's box there, with the fourth estate emboldened to push the envelope. Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, and on and on.

And now tweeter. A tweet as he and michelle head out to eat as a couple. A tweet over an unguarded moment about a current event expressing a personal rather than presidential opinion.

The media needs to police itself.
That's one presidential declaration I think we can ALL get behind.
It could have been intentional. West was jackassian, and Obama gets a "Sister Souljah" moment. He's copying way too much from Clinton anyway, might as well chuck this in the mix..
Kate--An interesting point, and thanks for raising it. I'd tie that in to my question to Benjamin above. Do you think Obama knew he was letting it slip, and the potential consequences?

Michael--Kanye has a short shelf life. Fortunately, my article isn't about him.

Gwool--Right you are. I'm aware of many times that media tweeters hold their tongues, er, tweets, however.

VR--Sure 'nuff. An easy call.

ZB--I doubt he will disown the comments.
Well, yes, Kanye West is a jackass. And the president is entitled to his opinion. But he probably shouldn't have said that to anyone except his wife and family.

Terry Moran had NO business violating off the record protocol. Everything in my journalistic sense of ethics just stood up and howled in protest.
Omg, "premature tweetalation"? How can I comment when I'm laughing so hard? You are so rated!
Let Obama take full credit for this... More power to him, he was right on! Kanye West is a jackass!
Kanye West is a jackass, Obama was right, Terry Moran was wrong to tweet it. I hope he's looking for a new job.
Paul--I think so.

Karin--Did you need one? And, to feel sorry for him being quoted off-the-record, tough stuff for a POTUS.

AshKW--Brilliantly stated. I agree.

1WV--Glad I made you laugh. Glad you're back. Thanks.

MAWB--Yes, and yes. Will be interesting to see what @TerryMoran has to see if and when he tweets again.
For those who had any question about whether or not the comment at the center of the premature tweet occurred, TMZ now has audio, here. I have to say this: It's tough to be the President.
Actually this is a great way for Obama to win back a lot of those disgruntled (read MORON) whites who got offended by his comments about the Professor Gates affair. It's a great 'off-the-record' line that the White House knows for sure that somebody would leak out.
This was planted. Slick woik, as such go. Making up for the Gates headache.
To elaborate: Remember the West Wing season of re-election, with the episode leading up to the debate, when President Jed pretended not to notice the camera was still running when calling his yahoo republican opponent stupid? And CJ's admiring "That was old-school, Mr. President"? Same shit.
icemilkcoffee and RickyB--You could well be right. Good points.
I loved Obama and now... I REALLY love him! Thanks for sharing!!!
It also occurred to me that Obama might have intentionally let it "slip." The fact that the jackass in question is black can only help undermine the "Obama hates white people" nonsense.

And yes, Bush and Cheney called a reporter a "major-league asshole."

Should everything "off the record" by suppressed by reporters? What if Bush had said, "Off the record, of course we knew there were no WMDs in Iraq"?
That was a concise and 100% correct assessment by the president. Why back away from it? It's not like he shouted it out during Kanye West's acceptance speech.

Whether it's news - well, that's another matter. But who expects journalists to know anything about that?
Any attempt to equate this to the reporter thing will be laughed out of the minds of most Americans by sheer overwhelming common sense. Disliked as journalists may be, most people realize that being hostile to a reporter whose job it is to be in your face, and commenting on a cultural figure to whom you don't owe any kind of ongoing regard in the normal course of events is just not the same thing. This is Obama's Sister Soulja moment. Ain't nothing new here, people. Move along (Excellent post, Kath. No offense intended.)
the president shouldn`t be insulting loony rappers