Misadventures in TwitterversePublished by Joyce Jones on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:19 am.
The veteran reporter was suspended indefinitely without pay last week after suggesting during an appearance on Martin Bashir’s MSNBC show that Republican Mitt Romney only feels comfortable with the “white folks at Fox and Friends.”
“That’s one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in some town hall settings, why he can’t relate to people other than that,” Williams told host Martin Bashir. “But when he comes on Fox and Friends, they’re like him, they’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.”
Yes, Williams was a bit frank, but plenty of other reporters have publicly commented on how Romney does indeed seem to vastly prefer Fox and shies away from appearing on other networks. But they framed it as more of a conservative thing than a white thing, which is not to say they weren’t thinking it.
A video of his comment was flagged by the conservative Web site Washington Free Beacon. Breitbart.com, the site founded by the late Andrew Breitbart, who tried to bring down former Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod, also posted the video.
The incident has prompted debate about whether racism played a role in the decision to suspend Williams because Politico’s newsroom is widely considered to be woefully lacking in diversity. But when they announced the suspension, founding editors John Harris and Jim VandeHei told the staff in a memo that, “Regrettably, an unacceptable number of Joe Williams’s public statements on cable and Twitter have called into question his commitment” to his responsibility to be fair and unbiased.
On its own, the “white folks at Fox” comment likely would not have led to the suspension. But apparently Williams also has in the past tweeted some incendiary and politically incorrect messages, including one about a part of Romney’s anatomy that rhymes with politi-chick.
Twitter is so seductive and spontaneous a medium that it’s easy to get carried away in 140 characters or less. It’s kind of like that sexy bad boy mothers warn their daughters about. Even though you really want to, if you think about it, you know you can’t. And that’s the key, Twitterlings — you’ve got to think about it. Just ask Joe Williams.