How the Washington Times' Emily Miller dominates Twitter
Spoiler alert: on TBD's list of "The 51 D.C. journalists with the most Klout," which billboarded Angie Goff atop our homepage all day yesterday, Emily Miller is No. 1. A senior editor at the Washington Times, she's called a "thought leader" and given a 79 — for the time being, anyway — by the website, which measures Twitter users' influence. (We could debate the value and accuracy of a Klout score, but let's not.) When I informed her — via Twitter, naturally — of her "astronomical Klout score," she replied, "astronomical? I think it's same as most reporters?"
No, it is not. She not only outscores nationally famous D.C. journalists like the Post's Ezra Klein and ABC News' Jake Tapper, but also MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, the New York Times' Paul Krugman, and Jeff Jarvis. When I asked her for an interview, she said she'd call after her 4 p.m. deadline, and that's exactly what she did.
She probably shouldn't have, given how I'd treated her just days earlier. She recently began a series titled, "Emily gets her gun," that follows her "as she legally tries to get her hands on a gun in the nation's capital." In the second article in that series, "Inside D.C.'s gun registry," she goes to the registry, which is inside D.C. police headquarters, and asks to buy a gun. Of course, had she read her own paper, she'd know that the registry is for "processing paperwork and will serve as a secure conduit for the guns and not put them on display for sale."
I wrote a parody of Miller's story, "In D.C.'s motor vehicle registry," in which I pretended to have gone to the DMV to buy a car. Miller could have called me up and cursed me out, or discredited me on Twitter, in front of her 11,685 followers (versus my paltry 604). Instead, she tweeted:
There's a lesson to learn here, perhaps — that taking a joke, or absorbing a punch, can widen your influence on Twitter. (This would explain why I'm languishing with a Klout score of 45.) Miller, who joined Twitter in February 2009, says, "I really try to ignore nasty people, because it just gets my heart rate up and stresses me out,” and she'll block users who use profanity, but otherwise she's all ears — even if you're a bleeding-heart liberal. "I want to hear from critics and those who disagree with me," she writes in the latest issue of Capitol File.
In that article, "to tweet or not to tweet," she issues the following "rules of etiquette": "Don't be boring"; "Think before tweeting"; "Pick your Twitter battles"; "Use the block feature"; "Sometimes, it pays to be discreet"; and "Respect the Twitter dead zones." Note that Miller doesn't say, "Don't start Twitter feuds," or, "Tweet with your followers in mind." She hasn't earned a 79 by pussyfooting. For instance, she has no qualms tweeting about The Bachelor, even though she knows it'll annoy 99 percent of her followers.
"Especially my male followers are like, 'Oh no, here we go again,'" she told me. "They’re like, 'I’m going to unfollow you,' and I’m like, 'Go ahead!' Because it's as important to me as the capital gains tax — it really is — who the next Bachelor is going to be."
Miller, named "Biggest Drama Queen" by FishbowlDC this year, has had two notable Twitter fights — one with "a movie star," the other "a network correspondent," she coyly said, encouraging me to Google it. The latter I can't figure out — perhaps something to do with this? — but the former is a reference to Kevin Spacey, with whom she dueled in the summer 2009. At the time, Spacey was working on Casino Jack, the 2010 movie in which he plays Jack Abramoff, the former lobbyist who served three and half years in prison for mail fraud and conspiracy.
This is where Miller's backstory gets both more complicated and more interesting. In a previous life, she was press secretary for then–House majority whip Tom DeLay, who resigned from Congress in 2005 after being caught up in the Abramoff scandal. Miller became a "pawn" in that scandal, as Howard Kurtz describes it in a 2009 Post feature that details, among other things, Miller's engagement to DeLay aide Michael Scanlon, who called off the wedding and promptly married a 24-year-old waitress in Delaware.
Scanlon was charged in the scandal, too, and Miller became the titular subject of a 2006 Wall Street Journal article titled, "Behind Unraveling of DeLay's Team, a Jilted Fiancée." (Miller denied that she went to the FBI.) Fast forward to the summer of 2009, when Abramoff allegedly blamed Miller for his being in prison. Someone tweeted this information to Spacey, and Miller, worried that it would end up in the movie script, had this back-and-forth with the actor about fact versus fiction. “You know as well as anyone that just because it’s written doesn’t mean it’s true," she tweeted. "No one asked me for the true story.”
To this day, Miller doesn't regret it. Time was, she felt powerless in the face of the mainstream media. Now she has Twitter, a platform to defend her reputation and tell her side of the story.
"It's a level playing field," she said, describing how no one — not newspapers, not TV networks — is granted more access than anyone else. "It's the great equalizer."
RecommendedRecent Facebook Activity
Best of TBD In case you missed it
Creativity knows no bounds when the costume-wearer doesn't have a say in the matter.
TBD Blogs What you need to read
The Market Report
@TBD On Foot
Only On 7
Head out with the family to one of the many fall festivals dominating this month's weekends.