Meet the Twitternator: White House social media guru's theatrical entrance

The White House's new social media rapid response manager has started his new job with a Twitter message containing a link to a dramatic Twitpic photograph: an image of a metal skull with red eyes and gleaming white teeth locked in a grin.

White house twitter machine

“OK, turning on the White House Twitter machine they gave me…” Jesse Lee, the White House director of progressive media and online response, tweeted on May 23 from @jesseclee44, described as an official White House Twitter account. The tweet contained a Web link to the photograph.

The image, and the reference to "Twitter machine," appear to refer to "The Terminator" and its sequels, movies in which machines become self-aware and take over the world, while a few surviving humans put together resistance movement. The popular Terminator franchise originated with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of killer cyborg.

Lee, who formerly was with the White House new media department, was promoted this week to oversee rapid response operations in social media, according to an article by Sam Stein in the Huffington Post on May 23.

Related story:

Secret Service apologizes for embarrassing tweet

The Huffington Post’s report on the promotion was based on an internal memo by Dan Pfeiffer, communications director.

"For the last two years, Jesse has often worn two hats working in new media and serving as the White House's liaison with the progressive media and online community. Starting this week, Jesse will take on the second role full time working on outreach, strategy and response,” Pfeiffer’s memo said.

The @jessclee44 Twitter account was active this week and had accumulated more than 1,083 followers as of May 24.

The description of @jesseclee44 states that it is an official White House Twitter account and that tweets are subject to the Presidential Records Act and may be archived.

Lee and Pfeiffer could not be reached immediately to comment on the image, which is sure to startle many readers. The Secret Service recently apologized for an errant official tweet that criticized Fox News as "blathering." The agency blamed the problem on a staffer who mistakenly thought he or she was on a private Twitter account.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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