Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, joined Twitter on Monday and had what appeared to be a normal start for someone in her position: She talked about legislation the White House is trying to push, and some Republicans attacked her.
As assistant to the president for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Jarrett made it her first bit of Twitter-business to go out and promote the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would provide women with equal pay and is set to go to a Congressional vote this week. She even went out and used the hashtag #equalpay.
“Excited to be on @twitter & hear from you! A woman earns just 77¢ for every $1 a man does. Join me & support #EqualPay,” she tweeted on Monday morning, the first of almost two dozen status updates she sent during her first day.
But the comment quickly drew fire from some who pointed out that things might not be so fair at the White House. “Maybe equal pay @whitehouse first?” wrote Doug Factor when he retweeted Jarrett's original message.
Jarrett spent a good part of Monday responding to her new followers and thanking supporters of equal pay legislation, but she didn't go on the offensive with those who questioned her opinions. It's an example of social media restraint that some other Obama staffers may want to pay attention to, including press secretary Jay Carney, who got into a Twitter battle earlier this year. And campaign manager Jim Messina set off a firestorm in February when he retweeted an op-ed about hispanics and the GOP and mentioned chimichangas.
One has to ponder if Jarrett will continue to be the shining example of what good governmental tweeting can be–someone who is clear with their message and does a good job of interacting with fellow Twitter users–or if she too will be dragged into a messy battle of 140 characters or less.
Image via the White House