Questioning Twits, Tweets, and Twats

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By Steven T. Jones

I still can’t get a straight answer to why Mayor Gavin Newsom blocked me on Twitter. On Saturday, the Chronicle prominently ran a story on Newsom blocking me and four others (including the League of Young Voters) and let Newsom’s political consultant Eric Jaye say it was because we were “flaming” him.

Yet as anyone who looks at my Twitter log can see, I sent Newsom just one message: “Why do you think Twitter is a good communication medium for you?” Now is that a “flame,” or a legitimate question by a journalist preparing to discuss the mayor’s new communications tool on a television show on the subject?

So the Chron’s Erin Allday lets Jaye get away with a direct lie that was easy to disprove and doesn’t contact me for a reaction. She did, however, ask me whether Newsom blocked me, indicating that it was probably Jaye who blocked me and then fed her the story, which she wrote without raising questions about our thin-skinned mayor’s commitment to public accountability, press freedom, and open democratic debate.

Neither Allday nor Jaye has returned my calls, but Newsom’s press secretary Nathan Ballard this morning finally responded to a pair of messages that I sent him on Friday, once again offering bewildering insults rather than doing the job taxpayers pay him for.

Me: Why did Gavin Newsom block me on Twitter?

Nate: I haven't asked him. Generally we DNFTT.

Me: Can you ask him? And what does DNFTT mean?

Nate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

Me: You're still not making sense. I'm a journalist who covers the mayor. I never "flamed" him on Twitter, as Eric Jaye implied, and following his posts isn't "trolling." The only thing I ever sent Newsom was this: "Why do you think Twitter is a good communication medium for you?"
That's an honest, legitimate question. Not flaming, or trolling, or any other hipster techie lingo you want to use. So my question remains: Why did the mayor block me? Was it because I pointed out on City Desk that he can't spell very well?

BTW, this is far from the first time that Team Newsom has tried to punish and excommunicate journalists they don't like. KGO-TV's Dan Noyes got shut out by Newsom after running critical pieces, the folks at Streetsblog say they can't get calls back after criticizing Newsom, and we at the Guardian have gotten dropped from Newsom media notification list twice before, restored only after instructing Ballard that it's not legal for public figures to discriminate among media outlets, a precedent from the case JA Savage vs. PG&E that was written by Newsom's father, Judge William Newsom.

But Team Newsom apparently thinks that they're just too cool and tech-savvy to bother with us old school print journalists. Like Karl Rove, they write their own reality and then use deceptive spin and sock puppets to counter their critics. And this from a team that aspires to the governor's office. Scary.