The Fourth Branch

Eyes on the White House and GoT

Not surprisingly, Trump and White House were among the most-used language by Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits last week. But their top hashtag may come as a surprise.

Washington, D.C. journalists and pundits were once again focused on President Trump last week. Their top word pairing was “White House” with 209 mentions, and the group had 1,044 mentions of “Trump”.

But their social media activity went beyond Washington, D.C., last week. Journalists’ top hashtag was #GameOfThrones (used 14 times), likely driven by Sunday night’s series finale of Game of Thrones.

Since the fight for the Iron Throne is over, we’ll be watching to see whether reporters’ social media attention is redistributed to Trump, Congress or the 2020 presidential candidates.

The Fourth Branch

It’s Mueller Time

With Thursday’s public release of the Mueller Report, Washington, D.C., journalists’ tweet volume spiked … and so did their followers’ engagement.

Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits’ Twitter activity spiked with Thursday’s public release of the Mueller Report. More than 10% of the Fourth Branch’s 7,637 tweets last week mentioned Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his report. Their most-used words were “Mueller” (969) and “report” (961), while the group’s most popular hashtag was #muellerreport (32 tweets).

Public appetite for Mueller news on Twitter was also high. Both journalists’ tweet volume and average retweets peaked on Thursday. Typically, we see average retweets decline as overall tweet volume increases, but the Mueller news appeared to provide an interesting outlier for the Fourth Branch.

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All in the Family

The bulk of journalists’ replies on Twitter last week were to other journalists’ accounts. Burgess Everett (@burgessev) of Politico nabbed the most replies this week among the Fourth Branch.

D.C. journalists and pundits may be tasked with covering Congress and the White House, but when it comes to replies on Twitter, they’re focused on each other.

The top 10 accounts that the Fourth Branch replied to over the last week were all other journalists. Burgess Everett (@burgessev) of Politico received the most replies over the last week, followed by Alexi McCammond (@alexi) of Axios and Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) of the Washington Post.

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An Increased Focus on Trump

Washington, D.C., Journalists mentioned Trump 46% more often on Twitter this past week, compared with their weekly 2019 average. Is this a sign of increased focus on the president?

It’s not news that the news media is focused on President Trump. But this week, we saw a big spike in their conversation about the president.

Washington, D.C. journalists and pundits mentioned Trump 904 times on Twitter over the last week. That marks a 46% increase from their weekly average of 618 Trump mentions so far this year.

Was this last week an outlier or the beginning of a trend of increased presidential focus? We’ll keep monitoring to find out.

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United We Stand for Journalism

One of their peers became the story – and the focus on Twitter – when the White House revoked CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass after a heated exchange with the president.

The Trump Administration’s ban of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta resulted in an uproar from the journalism community, and Twitter proves it. Last week, there were 133 mentions of CNN and 105 mentions of Jim Acosta from Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits. The group’s 10 most-popular tweets on the issue all came from reporters from other publications than CNN, including The New York Times, PBS, CBS, Washington Post and the Daily Beast.

Their tweets originally focused on the Administration’s changing story on the events that transpired during the White House’s press briefing and then shifted to celebrate U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly’s ruling, ordering the White House to temporarily restore Acosta’s press credentials.

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Trumping the Midterms

Over the past week, journalists tweeted about President Trump more than 2.5 times as often as they did about the upcoming midterm elections or voting. It appears the media sees the midterms as a test of the country’s support—or opposition—of the president, rather than a vote for a new Congress.

In the week leading up to the midterm elections, Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits were focused on one politician: President Trump. Trump is not up for re-election until 2020, but the media continues to view the president as a key player in this year’s election.

The Fourth Branch’s mentions of the president rose to nearly 1,400 tweets this week, compared to only 529 tweets that discussed voting or the election. It appears the media sees the midterms as a referendum on the president.

Tomorrow, we will see what the country decides.

The Fourth Branch

When Tragedy Strikes, Twitter Looks to Journalists

There was a dramatic increase in journalists’ average retweets per tweet on Saturday, the day of the synagogue attack.

For most of the past week, Washington, D.C., journalists had a low average retweet-per-tweet count. But that changed Saturday in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue attack.

On Saturday, the group had approximately 196 tweets related to the shooting—nearly half of the total tweets that day. The information clearly resonated with audiences, as there were nearly 800 retweets per tweet.

Interestingly, the media’s tweets about other hot topics earlier in the week, such as the bombs mailed to anti-Trump leaders, did not receive nearly as much engagement.

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New York Times Not Seen as “Failing” by Media Peers

Despite Trump’s best efforts to disqualify the New York Times, the publication’s reporters continue to drive the Twitter conversation among Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits.

We know President Trump is not a fan of the New York Times. He’s referred to the publication as the “failing New York Times” several times. But it seems the journalism community disagrees.

Among Washington, D.C., journalists and pundits, five out of the eight most retweeted accounts this past week were New York Times reporters, including Maggie Haberman with 46 retweets, Jonathan Martin with 31 retweets, Peter Baker with 31 retweets, Eric Lipton with 20 retweets, and Alex Burns with 19 retweets.

Five of Haberman’s retweets, 11 of Martin’s retweets, seven of Baker’s retweets, five of Lipton’s retweets and seven of Burns’ retweets were from other New York Times reporters. New York Times reporters seem to have each other’s Twitter backs, but the majority of their retweets came from other Washington, D.C., reporters.

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Public vs. Peer Popularity

Ezra Klein, founder and editor-at-large of Vox, is responsible for four of the five most popular tweets from D.C. journalists and pundits in the past week. But when we look at who D.C. journalists and pundits are retweeting, Klein is nowhere to be found.

Four out of the five most retweeted tweets from D.C. journalists and pundits in the past week came from Ezra Klein, founder and editor-at-large of Vox. Klein saw a big spike in retweets in the past week. His tweets average about 815 retweets, but that number jumped to 1,595 this week.

Sam Stein, politics editor at The Daily Beast and an MSNBC contributor, was the only other journalist to make the list. All five of the most popular tweets from D.C. journalists and pundits were about the Ford and Kavanaugh Senate hearings.

Interestingly, when we look at the most frequently retweeted accounts by D.C. journalists and pundits, Klein is nowhere to be found. His peers retweeted him just seven times. In comparison, Burgess Everett – a Politico congressional reporter – had 73 retweets from D.C. journalists and pundits.

The Takeaway? Klein’s tweets are resonating with the general public, but not so much with the D.C. media.

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Obsessed With The President

Even in his death, Sen. John McCain can’t take the media spotlight away from the president.

It may have felt like Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) death and funeral services dominated the social conversation and news coverage over the last week, but Twitter tells a different story.

D.C. journalists and pundits had 819 tweets about “Trump” over the last week, plus an additional 205 tweets that mentioned the word “president.” In comparison, this group tweeted 580 times about “McCain” (they also had 278 mentions of “John,” but those were most likely in the same tweets).

Even the death of a 30+ year senator and two-time presidential candidate can’t take journalists’ attention off of the president.