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Twitter And The New Mom: Keeping Up With Politics, 140 Characters At A Time

Filed by KOSU News in Politics.
August 17, 2012

Note: We’ve asked NPR journalists to share their top five (or so) political Twitter accounts, and we’re featuring the series on #FollowFriday. Here are recommendations from Tamara Keith (@tamarakeithNPR), an NPR congressional reporter.

This post is a long time in coming, but I have a pretty good excuse. The folks at It’s All Politics asked me to write a #FollowFriday post back on July 17, and I was still pulling my thoughts together the next day when my water broke … at NPR headquarters (awkward!).

My son was born on the 19th at 6 pounds, 15 ounces, with the appropriate number of fingers and toes, and a bit of a cone head, which has since receded to a more normal shape.

And this is the point where you might be thinking: “Wait, you’re on maternity leave, why the heck are you thinking about who would be good to follow on Twitter?”

The answer is quite simple: There aren’t a lot of things you can do with one hand while feeding a baby and desperately trying to stay awake. Catching up on the world via Twitter happens to be one of them. Of course I read to him, and talk to him about life, and stare into his eyes, but that still leaves a surprising amount of time for Twitter.

At 1 a.m. on Saturday, when the tiny gentleman woke up hungry and grumpy, I learned that Mitt Romney would be naming his running mate in the morning and that it was likely to be Rep. Paul Ryan. By 2 a.m., when the little guy was done eating and had gone through his second diaper of the hour, I had read some pretty decent analysis of the choice in 140 characters or less.

The following is a very incomplete list of people who populate my Twitter feed:

Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) works for BuzzFeed and, as far as I can tell, mostly follows Mitt Romney around the country these days (I met him on the trail during the primaries in Columbus, Ohio). I wonder how he finds time to eat, sleep and report, because it seems like he’s constantly tweeting. But don’t worry, following him won’t overload your feed with useless junk. He tweets and re-tweets quality information and details from the trail and beyond.

Ben White (‏@morningmoneyben) is the man behind Politico’s Morning Money daily email, and a very smart tweeter at the intersection of business and politics.

On the congressional front, I often get a kick out of the Twitter spats between Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson), the spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; and Don Stewart (@StewSays), the spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Also, for better or for worse, their Twitter feeds are sometimes the best way to figure out what is about to happen on the Senate floor. This is particularly true on a Thursday afternoon, when it looks like there’s an impasse, but you know it’s all going to be resolved before dark because senators have flights to catch.

And for translation, I turn to tweets from Niels Lesniewski ‏(@nielslesniewski), who covers the Senate for Roll Call. Senate procedure can be tough to follow, and he’s always there with a tweet to explain the rules at the very moment I start scratching my head wondering: Why, oh why?

Chad Pergram,‏ (@ChadPergram) who covers Congress for Fox News, isn’t just the friendliest journalist on the Hill, he also has to be one of the best connected — and his tweets reflect it.

And for a little fun (and sometimes news value) Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley ‏ (@ChuckGrassley) of Iowa is a must follow. Check out this tweet from Monday, when President Obama stopped at the Iowa State Fair to greet voters and buy a beer: “How does PresO justify havin secret service shut down the bud tent @ the state fair nd the owner told me he loses 50,000 n 1 nite”.

Not all members of Congress tweet for themselves, but clearly the 78-year-old Grassley’s tweets are all his own, random typos and abbreviations included.

Finally, I find great value in having a little humor peppered in my Twitter feed, and Andy Borowitz is an excellent source. His popular, satirical @BorowitzReport was recently picked up by the New Yorker, and his Twitter feed is often hilarious. Here are a couple of his recent tweets:

“Papa John’s CEO says he will raise prices if ‘Obamacare’ stands, which means the pizza is no longer the worst thing about Papa John’s.”

“At the end of every ad, candidates should be required to say what they promised the crazy billionaire who paid for it.”

He was particularly fun to follow during the GOP primary debates last fall and winter, and I can only hope he will live-tweet the upcoming general election debates as well.

Follow our recommendations so far here: https://twitter.com/#!/nprpolitics/the-npr-twitterati [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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