This takes pushback to a new level.
The White House on Tuesday laid a large measure of blame for the failure of their economic rescue plan in the House Monday on verbiage.
Too many in the media had labeled the plan a “bailout” of wealthy Wall Street executives, the White House said.
Related story: ‘Bailout’ by another name sounds sweeter
The full extent of their messaging counterattack became evident when Olivier Knox, the White House reporter for Agence France Presse, received a comment Tuesday morning on his personal Facebook page from Scott Stanzel, deputy White House press secretary.
Mr. Stanzel challenged Mr. Knox’s use of the word bailout in his status update.
Mr. Knox, after checking transcripts, had written that “President Bush has pushed the bailout in 12 of the last 13 days.”
The Facebook status update, for all non-Facebook users, is a blurb that appears next to a users name to alert other users of what an individual is doing or thinking, or just wants to express.
Mr. Stanzel left a comment below Mr. Knox’s update that was viewable by all other users. It said, “Rescue plan, Mr. Knox. Your count is accurate. The only time the word ‘bailout’ appears, however, in any if those transcripts/statements is when a reporter used it in the Uribe avail.”
The “Uribe avail” was the president’s Sept. 20 press conference at the White House with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Three minutes after receiving Mr. Stanzel’s comment, Mr. Knox changed his status update to the following: “Olivier (UPDATES; CHANGES LANGUAGE) Just counted, and President Bush has pushed the economic rescue package in 12 of the past 13 days.”
Mr. Knox noted in a blog post on AFP’s website that he did not say he had corrected his language, only changed it.
He also said the entire exchange was “lighthearted,” but said that it was Mr. Stanzel’s “first time interacting with a reporter this way on Facebook.”
“We may have made a little Washington media history,” he wrote.
In a nod to Mr. Knox’s French ancestry and Paris-based employer, Mr. Stanzel wrote another comment on the altered status update.
“Merci beaucoup,” he wrote.
Mr. Stanzel’s status update was changed Wednesday morning around 8 a.m. to read, “Scott Stanzel thinks your status is wrong.”
A link to Mr. Knox’s blog post detailing the entire episode was attached.