• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs & Twitter: An Abuse of Power?

    In today’s media environment, it makes sense that President Obama and his team of White House advisors are using Twitter to spread their message. The medium has a great deal of upside, especially to an administration that often accuses the press of treating them unfairly. However, Twitter also has a downside, because its impulsive nature can often lead to negative results. Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs used his official government Twitter account to endorse his favorite bike store.

    Gibbs tweeted: “#FF @CraigFEMA so you know the latest @RevCycles a great bike store & special thanks to Ken and others there for helping me with my bike

    (#FF is shorthand for “Follow Friday” where you encourage your Twitter community to “follow” or support that account.)

    Your first reaction may be – so what? Gibbs clearly likes to bike, and talk about biking, and he wanted to support his local store. It makes him human. Agreed, that would be fine, if this was a personal Twitter account being used for personal reasons on personal time. It is not. Gibb’s Twitter account specifically says in its bio: “An official WH twitter account. Comments & messages received through official WH pages are subject to the PRA and may be archived.” In fact, next to Robert Gibbs name appears in parentheses the letters “EOP”, meaning Executive Office of the President. He is tweeting on behalf of the White House, and even the President.

    Government officials using their position to endorse businesses and products creates very obvious conflicts of interest. Will every business Robert Gibbs walks into now offer him special treatment in the hopes he gives them a shout-out or endorsement? Will Revolution Cycles offer him special treatment for today’s tweet? Did he already receive special treatment from Revolution Cycles, considering his tweet specifically calls out “Ken” who helped him with his bike?

    Just the fact that we are now analyzing his behavior and the tweet means that Revolution Cycles may receive considerable online traffic. Does that traffic have a value, and if so does it represent a government in-kind contribution of sorts? Congressional staffers can barely accept a hamburger in some cases, and nothing at all in others, so the financial value set by the government officials on ethics is extremely low.

    If you still think this is no big deal, think of it this way: Imagine that before the next White House press briefing, Gibbs walks to the podium and says ‘Before we get started, I just want all our viewers to know how great Revolution Bikes is. You should really go there and shop.’ Would that on-camera advertisement strike you any differently?

    Robert Gibbs has a position of authority, and today’s tweet represents an abuse of that power. He should refrain from making official government endorsements in the future, and immediately disclose if he received any special treatment from Revolution Cycles or any other business for that matter. The United States Office of Government Ethics should also investigate.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    57 Responses to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs & Twitter: An Abuse of Power?

    1. PresidentSuit says:

      If the MSM was on the job, they'd look into whether the bike shop gave Gibbs a free bike or other goods & services. This is an abuse of power and not even that classy of one. But nothing in this WH could be confused with class.

    2. Bill Lynchburg, VA says:

      I love Heritage and every article I’ve read from Heritage has been amazing until…now. I understand your implications in diagreeing with his tweet but wasn’t it Liberals during Bush’s Presidency that criticized him for tiny mundane actions such as this? Let’s not stoop to their Ilinski like attacking….get over it Cooper

    3. David says:

      Wow, are you serious?

    4. David Blumgart says:

      You fired Frum and you think this is worth publishing? Jesus wept.

    5. Di says:

      ROFL!! OMG, thank you so much for the laugh. I really needed that.

    6. Tim, Oakland says:

      You're right! And extending your logic, Obama should never patronize any business, since that's an official white house endorsement, too. Remember when he and Biden went to eat burgers in DC? Abuse of power!

    7. Christopher, SF says:

      They must've made his wheels extra, extra true. Maybe they'll even give him a free blinky now. The scandal!

    8. Rich says:

      That's really the best you guys can do? Time to pack it in and start voting Democrat. The Republican Party's mouthpieces have run out of meaningful things to say.

    9. Maya says:

      Cheney beds with the oil companies and is directly responsible for the oil spill. Some where else the main street still bleeds. But but… Gibbs tweeted about a bike store. That makes me SO angry!!! Let's bring out the pitch forks!!!!!!

    10. afinley, Chicago says:

      Is this really the best you can do?

      *Surely* you have more substantive objections to whatever the WH is doing. You're wasting people's time with this one.

    11. Linda, Bethlehem says:

      And the press has commented that the President has eaten at Five Guys. So what?

    12. Alex_anipac says:

      Gibbs talked about a bike store on Twitter! – Someone call Ken Starr to see if he is available to investigate! He might mention a coffee shop next. He must be stopped before it is too late. The Republic is in danger!

    13. Linda Kennedy says:

      This is a joke, right? Get a life…

    14. James Salsman, Calif says:

      How is this more important than the fact that Don Siegelman is still in prison while torturers walk free?

    15. ADeeperTruth says:

      This article is beyond inane. "Abuse of Power" over a tweet? Grow the f!@k up.

    16. Mark Blacknell, Arli says:

      Glad to see you're really focused on the things that count, Heritage. Next up: did Robert Gibbs correctly the report the value of the lesson the shop gave him in changing his tire? No? OMGScandal!

      (Also, I presume this is a multi-part series – you know this is where W had his bikes serviced, right? Clearly there's some there there.)

    17. Linda, Bethlehem says:

      PresidentSuit, apparently you wouldn't know class if it bit you on the behind.

    18. Posterus Nutbagus, P says:

      this clearly proves that the president is a socialist.

    19. Pingback: The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog | The Ruthless Truth blog

    20. Rick Brooklyn, NY says:

      Really?

    21. Kerry, Michigan says:

      You're kidding right? Republican Senators meet privately with Wall Street in the week before legislation comes before Congress considers regulating Wall Street and this is what you choose to "investigate". Nothing gets by you!!! You're ability to recognize the critical events of the day are amazing.

      Perhaps, in my little business, I should not extend that small "thank you" discount to military personnel so that I won't be accused of "favoritism" or worse.

      I am dying to know what kind of air was put in his tires. Would you chase it down please? You obviously interned at a great investigative publication so you'll recognize the tag line for your former publication when I say, "Enquiring minds want to know."

      http://www.foundry.org/2010/05/07/white-house-p

    22. steven conner says:

      Watch this guy in videos–the latest one with the oil spill conflict from Fox news then his previous videos. He is lying. Watch his jaw and how his syntax changes. It is so funny. When this guy is on the hot seat his manner of speaking is totally off the course. He says “um” and then his jaw does this switching thing. His previous videos won’t show this. I love it: transparency? Not in this guy.

      This is lying through his front teeth.

      Say, “Cheese.” LOL

    23. Mike says:

      Seriously? I’d rather you focused on real issues that matter to Americans than trying to create a “scandal” out of a guy liking his neighborhood bike shop.

    24. Randy says:

      I hope this article is tongue-in-cheek; otherwise it is one of the most absurd critiques I've read in a long time. If the Heritage Foundation thinks this is an issue the country cares about, then the country is doing pretty well.

    25. Barry says:

      To those who believe this is no big deal you may have a point if it weren't for this administrations and the MSM's constant double standard and hypocrisy. However, many said the same thing about Pres. Obama's associations with Rev. Wright, Bill Ayres etc. and it seems that the small things expose the true heart of the people in this administration. It's not what they say but what they do.

    26. Susan, Austin says:

      I agree with you Rory, what happens when he starts endorsing banks, auto dealers, airlines, newspapers, magazines – you get the idea. But, personally, I don't pay any attention to him. I don't know how he's lasted as long as he has in that position! What a farce!

    27. bill w says:

      Reading the responses to this story blows me away. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess these responders went to public school. There is no problem with liar Gibbs promoting anything he wants. IT IS NOT RIGHT TO DO SO THROUGH OFFICIAL CHANNELS YOU UNION EDUCATED MORONS. Thats what personal accounts are for.

    28. Normca says:

      This does pale in relation to Iran gaining EMT ability along with Nukes, wasted spending, the health insurance bill and the absence of real national defense. However, like the official white house web site has done in the past, like Obama lambasting citizens who are Tea Party attendees who disagree with him, emails sent from the white house, this is another abuse of power, albeit a minor one, unlike throwing Chrysler bond holder off the bus. However just another in the long line of abuse and need not be dismissed.

    29. Randall Holland, Ari says:

      If the tweet has been made by a republican in the WH. The MSM would have been all over it in a flash drawing the same conclusions. But because it is PC not to saying anything bad about the current administration you won't hear a word from the MSM.

    30. Z, Washington, DC says:

      Heritage Foundation officials using their position to call attention to businesses and products creates very obvious conflicts of interest. Will every business Rory Cooper writes about somebody walking into now offer him special treatment in the hopes he gives them a shout-out or endorsement? Will Robert Gibbs offer him special treatment for today’s gratuitous ink? Did he already receive special treatment from Robert Gibbs, considering his article specifically refers to him as "Robert"?

    31. John, North Carolina says:

      This is a good indication of what the Heritage Foundation and the conservative movement spends its energy and good will on.

      Irrelevant and divisive.

    32. Tom, Missouri says:

      Wow this is really embarrassing for you. I hope this was a joke. I'd suggest you just delete this and forget you never did it. I'm assuming you were all over the tens of billions of wasted money handed over during the last administration to Cheney's old company, right? Right? The hypocrisy is astonishing.

    33. Nonnie22, Central Te says:

      This is just one in a long list of what I consider to be inappropriate behavior on the part of this doofus. Sorry for the name calling, it's mild compared to how I think of him each time I see him.

      His attempts at humor are often mean spirited and sharp toward anyone who he feels like holds a view different than his Master's. And any questioning of a means or motivation of the God, Obie are met with open and obvious distain always coupled with smirks and mouges. He makes the press secretaries from the Bush administration seem down right hallowed. Scott McClellan excepted (we miss you still, Tony Snow).

      Anyone who has ever held a professional position knows that one doesn't officially commend or condem under the flag of the company. It can quickly result in termination. Just one more in a seemingly endless line of examples of what you get when you elect an unknown, untested person to a high office.

    34. Richard Masoner, Cal says:

      You guys know that Revolution Cycles was also George Bush's bike shop of choice during his tenure, right? Instead of a little tweet, there was photo spread of his custom painted Trek mountain bike and news articles about President Bush and his visits to Revolution. See, for example:

      http://revolutioncycles.com/articles/the-presiden

    35. Rory Cooper Rory Cooper says:

      Thanks for all the comments so far. A couple clarifications: Yes, Presidents are often seen at businesses or endorsing products. This has to be done carefully as well, but given that the president is monitored by the press 24/7, it is near impossible to stop. However, Robert Gibbs is a government employee subject to a myriad of ethics rules. Like other government employees, Gibbs most likely attends ethics briefings where these matters are discussed.

      This tweet, while maybe insignificant in the big picture (some seem to think 'very' insignificant), may be in violation of those rules. You can certainly choose to say any rules related to his use of official government communications can be ignored, but that doesn't change whether they are indeed a violation. An innocent tweet may be no different than an innocent lunch where a registered lobbyist picks up the check, but ethics rules exist to eliminate this debate. While Robert Gibbs probably meant no harm, adhering to government ethics rules should apply at all levels of business, otherwise a casual indifference can lead to more egregious errors.

      Again, thanks for reading all!

    36. Pingback: Non-conflicts v. real conflicts of interest | Second Reagan Revolution

    37. Peno Goble says:

      Can i have the three minutes back that it took to read this. Seriously, thats the best you have. Huckleberry, Little Annie Oakley Palin and Adolph Guiliani promote their books, shows and potential presidential campaigns on a "NEWS" channel (Fox) and this bothers you?……..huh!

    38. Pingback: Non-conflicts v. real conflicts of interest - Online Political Blog

    39. Karen Yancura says:

      I agree. It's not a small thing and Gibbs stepped over the line. Let's keep personal and official separate

    40. jj says:

      Mr. Masoner please get your facts straight. The article is a reprint from Spokes Magazine regarding an interview with Mike Hamannwright, the owner of Revolution Cycles. It is not about President Bush endorsing Revolution Cycles or any type of bike. Don't you get it!!! No wonder liberals can be told anything by this administration, there is no thought process. What Gibbs did is unethical, but that doesn't seem to matter any more.

    41. Jennifer, Wisconsin says:

      It does matter and they need to start respecting the Oval Office. It is embarassing to have an administration that violates tax laws, that attacks any individual, group or company that has the audacity to stand up to them (Joe the Plumber, Sarah Palin, insurance companies, Wall Street, the Tea Party, etc…), and that lies when ever it is convenient. That usually doesn't fly in America and just because there are so many small things to point out, doesn't mean they shouldn't be pointed out. The bottom line is the administration believes that they can get away with it because they know the mainstream media won't cover it and most Americans won't get it. The paybacks and cronnyism going on with our government are out of control in small examples like this and significant examples like the Union kickbacks. Thanks for pointing it out… you should keep a running tab of the inapprorpiate things the administration has done and the lies beign told.

    42. Pingback: Robert Gibbs rides a bicycle » Cyclelicious

    43. Mark - Onalaska, WI. says:

      Yup…stay on topic…Government wonk using government equipment giving a "shout out" for some patronage while on government time and cash. "W" didn't open his press briefings with a "Revolution Cycle is the best!" shout-out, did he? This isn't even ABOUT "O" – It's the "O" appologists tripping over themselves trying to save some Administrative dweep from himself and his inept handling of government-issued toys. Instead of grinding him up and spitting him out, turn off his "twits" and "tweets" and make him write it out on a legal pad with a pencil. Maybe, next time, he'll pay attention to what the hell he's doing. Obviously, it's not government work.

    44. Patriot Veteran, Ari says:

      What kind of "help" did he receive at the bike shop? A special deal? If so, isn't he then guilty of receiving special favors? This is abuse of power and has no place on an official tweet.

    45. Pingback: Robert Gibbs rides a bicycle « Bike Monkey Magazine

    46. Michael McGettigan, says:

      On the other hand, it's about time that bicycling got some recognition. It's the ultimate expression of taking responsibility for your own personal transport.

      Instead of shipping money to terrorists, bicycles run on US-grown wheat.

      Yes, Gibbs should be cautious about the shout-outs…

      but you comparison to a press conference is overwrought.

      He didn't put an announcement about public policy in the same tweet, or convene a group of journos to read it.

      sincerely,

      Michael McGettigan, owner of a bike shop in Philadelphia that I won't name here, as that might be wrong!

    47. Diderot, Virginia says:

      Sure this is an outrage. Dick Cheney being on Halliburton's payroll during his first administration, totally acceptable right? These socialists are tricky aren't they!

    48. Tim Az says:

      Nothing new here. The whole regime has been abusing power since they arrived in D.C.. How much abuse will the American citizen endure before dispensing an appropriate disciplinary action to these ungrateful juvenile delinquents? The verdict will be handed down this November. Let it be unanimous.

    49. CharlieL, Portland, says:

      OK, this is NOT the most important thing happening in the world, but…

      This is clearly a violation of the ethics rules, and no administration should be given a "bye."

      It sets a very bad precedent and should be called out and eliminated quickly. "Official WH" accounts should be used for "Official WH business" only. Not for personal shout-outs. Doesn't Mr. Gibbs have a PERSONAL account he can tweet this on?

      If I were a journalist I would be angry that the "official Twitter account" was being used for anything other than "the gaggle is getting under way," "the press plane is leaving at noon," or "We're throwing a surprise party for Helen, because we all love her so." (Oh, OK, maybe not that last one.)

    50. Pingback: Gibbs Tweet Shows Social Media Grey Area | ProjectVirginia

    51. Bill C says:

      Personally, I could give a rodent's posterior about this guy or his bike shop. The fact that he didn't know better than to use government issue to tout the place shows either arrogance or ignorance. Neither is excusable. Barack you need a replacement for this goof ball because he hasn't got the sense God gave a goat.

    52. Pingback: The Blurring Line Between Personal And Professional Activities | PHP Hosts

    53. Pingback: The Blurring Line Between Personal And Professional Activities | Techne.ws

    54. Pingback: The Blurring Line Between Personal And Professional Activities | It's... just a dot

    55. Pingback: Streetsblog Capitol Hill » Today’s Headlines

    56. Washington, DC says:

      Praise Jesus! June 29, 2010

      The Late Senator Robert Byrd's Family, Friends, and Associates

      Senator Robert Byrd has weathered many storms, encouraged and inspired many hearts/minds and we say thank You, Jesus. The late Senator Robert Byrd has fought a good fight for 51 years in Congress and he has finished his course and he has received his golden crown laid up for him in heaven and we say thank You, Jesus and AMEN!

      We, true Christians can hear Senator Robert Byrd saying in his spirit – I came into office when American Government Laws were founded and established on Christian Principles (Holy Bible – Blue Laws – Holy Ten Commandments). Therefore, we true Christians can hear Senator Robert Byrd saying in his spirit – Jesus Christ never change for Jesus is the same, today, yesterday, and forever more. (Heb. 13:8) – We can hear Senator Byrd saying in his spirit I have and want to leave the best inheritance, a committed Christian lifestyle to all my family, friends, associates, President Obama, Congressmen/women (Republicans and Democrats), District and Federal Government employees in Jesus Precious Name to pick up and follow because that is the only way America Government will succeed over sin, satan, sickness, and diseases for only what we do for Christ will last on earth and throughout eternity.

      We pray all will rejoice and celebrate with glorious memories in Christ Jesus for Senator Byrd who has entered his eternal destination. We thank the Holy Godhead/Jesus for loaning Senator Byrd to America and American Government (92/51 years). AMEN!

      Love always,

      True Christians

    57. Washington, DC says:

      June 29, 2010

      Praise Jesus!

      TO: All District and Federal Government Official Heads

      (President, Mayors, Governors (Republicans and

      Democrats) in Maryland, Virginia, and America

      Thought for Today- Christians need to take a stand and be counted for the lost and children like Jesus stood for us/all/Christians-

      SUBJECT: President B. Obama, Congress, Mayors, Governors, non-Christians and Many Professing Christians (Pastors and Clergies) are trying to turn all America Government Laws into “Sodom and Gomorrah” (sin city) as was and is in the Holy Bible (King James Version)-

      Subtitle: The Holy Godhead/Jesus is still in Control and He will continue to bring His Judgment, Wrath, Anger, Punishment upon all wicked evil minded Americans with oil spills, fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, storms, sin, sicknesses, and diseases until America Official Law- Makers repent, turn from their/our wicked ways and put The Holy Godhead/Jesus back into District and Federal Government. (Please read- Romans 1st chapter – II Chron. 7:14 – Is. 58:6-14 (Praying and fasting).

      Sub-subtitle- Non-Christians and Christians vote and pay State and Federal taxes and both should have equal rights and representation in District and Federal Government in Jesus Precious Name.

      Page 2- Christians Need to take a Stand for Jesus Sake for the lost and Children sake-

      It is time and past time for true Christians to take back what satan’s evil spirit through many America Government Law-makers have tried to and are trying to take away the “freedom of religion” rights for all, especially, for Christians in Jesus Precious Name.

      We, true Christians plead The Blood of Jesus and in Jesus Precious Name over every evil wicked spirit coming from President B. Obama, all Congressmen/women, Mayor A. Fenty, Councilmen/women, and all voters with evil minds against The True, Living, and Almighty Godhead/Jesus Commandments for Jesus Sake.

      The Holy Scriptures teach that Christians are not to vote for non-Christians because the opposite beliefs do not have any spiritual communication in common and non-Christians do not know the Holy Godhead/Jesus and non-Christians hate the Holy Godhead/Jesus and Christians. (Please read- Romans 8th chapter – Eph. 5:11 – II Cor. 6:14-18).

      Non-Christians and Backsliders in District and Federal Government are trying to take away the religious rights for Christian American citizens, but satan is a liar and a defeated foe in Jesus Precious Name for Jesus said that He will fight the true Christians’ battle if we just keep still for Jesus has all Power in earth and in heaven.

      Page 3 – Christians Need to take a Stand for Jesus Sake for the lost and Children sake-

      There is not anyone who can conquer or subdue the Almighty “POWER” of the Holy Godhead/Jesus and we are living witnesses and we say thank You, Jesus and AMEN! (Please read- Heb. 4:12 – Eph. 6th chapter – Matt. 28:18-20 – Rev. 1:18 – Rev. 4:11 – Is. 42:8 – 43:7).

      The Holy Godhead/Jesus teaches and we have experienced when anyone mistreats true Christians, he/she is in danger of hell fire and the Wrath, Anger/ and Punishment of the Holy Godhead/Jesus will come upon he/she and say thank You, Jesus and AMEN! (Please read- Romans 12:19 – Heb. 10:30).

      Let us look at some past examples when God/Jesus Punished people (Law-Makers) for mistreating Christians-

      The late Governor George Wallace of Alabama used evil devices against the late Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. and God/Jesus put Wallace in a wheel chair and Wallace granted Dr. King, Jr. his request for only The Mighty God/Jesus can make or break all His Creation.

      God/Jesus showed America His Almighty Power by allowing the horrible, terrible evil death (body cut up in many pieces) of Madalyn Murray O’Hair who introduced the law to take “Prayer out of Public Schools” in 1963. God/Jesus is not to be played with or taken for grant or to believe that God/Jesus will not do what He has said and Promise. (Please read- Gal. 6:7).

      Page 4 – Christians Need to take a Stand for Jesus, the lost, and children-

      Lyndon B. Johnson became President in 1963 because he was the vice President at the time of John Kennedy’s assassination. However, President Johnson allowed much horrible treatment to come to the Late Martin King, Jr. and Kings’ marchers until God/Jesus moved on Johnson’s heart to meet and talk with King and then Johnson allow the troops to come in to control many in the so-call White race who wanted to up hold segregation in all States of America.

      Johnson took office for only one term on his own for Johnson had difficulty with the Democrats concerning the Vietnam war and we saw the Hand of God/Jesus terminating Johnson for some of his ungodly endorsing laws (start taking away freedom of religion for the Christians – Prayer out of Public Schools).

      On Inauguration Day, Johnson saw Nixon sworn in, then got on the plane to fly back to Texas. When the front door of the plane closed, Johnson pulled out a cigarette—first cigarette he had smoked since his heart attack in 1955. One of his daughters pulled it out of his mouth and said, "Daddy, what are you doing? You're going to kill yourself." He took it back and said, "I've now raised you girls. I've now been President. Now it's my time!" From that point on, he went into a very self-destructive spiral.

      Page 5 – Do not Mistreat God/Jesus

      People- For Jesus will

      Repay.

      The late President Nixon got impeached out of office and the list goes on and on.

      The Holy Scriptures teach all humans and living creatures cannot do anything without the Holy Godhead/Jesus and when President Obama, Mayor A. Fenty, Congressmen/women, councilmen/women, Governors, Pastors, clergies, voters leave The Holy Godhead/Jesus out of their daily lives (minds), they might as well give up their jobs (offices) and go home and sit down because all are in vain and will come to nothing of value. (Please read- John 15:5).

      Christians through Jesus Christ and Jesus Precious Name need to put satan and satan’s followers out of business off the airwaves (radios, Television, computers, cell phones, movies, and etc.) with the filthy languages (cussing, lying, ), filthy songs, immoral obscene pictures sexual acts of gay/same sex and all sinful acts for satan, we plead The Blood of Jesus over all sinful acts in Jesus Precious Name. (Please read- I Cor. 15:33 – Eph. 5:1-11).

      Page 6 –

      We pray In Jesus Precious Name that You, Jesus will move on all hearts to put Prayer back into Public Schools and Government Service for all people because You, Jesus want all to prosper and be in good health and the way all can accomplish that Promise is to Love, Honor, Respect, and Obey Your Commandments. (Please read- III John 2 – Col. 3:16 – Eph. 5:19).

      Love always,

      True Christians

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×