On Monday, Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman posted a story questioning whether Newt Gingrich and other Republicans were ready to campaign in the new media environment of 2012. Their point was fairly straightforward: much of the potential GOP field has never run in an environment where news breaks as fast as it does now, where a single slip of the tongue is instantly amplified by Twitter and blogs, and where vast video archives make it possible to reveal contradictions and hypocrisy in devastating fashion.
Apparently, Newt-ville took Ben and Maggie's article personally. His campaign got so offended that they dashed off an ill-advised e-mail to Ben saying the article was "out of phase with reality" and boasting about Gingrich's 1.3 million Twitter followers:
It doesn't pass the laugh test. I might say the same about Politico who has little experience covering political campaigns . . . uh, in the Twitter era. In fact, Politico has less than 200k followers on Twitter. That's 1.2 million less than Newt.
I think if you combine Newt's political experience with his obvious ability to maintain a following online, I think you've left your readers with a false impression.
Arguably the funniest thing about this e-mail isn't even what was in it—it's that it took Newt-ville 24 hours to respond to a story about the importance of rapid response. Moreover, as Ben points out, the article wasn't about Newt Gingrich's ability to maintain a huge Twitter following (Shabu shabu, anyone?). The article was about the sense that Gingrich, and others like him, are out of phase with the current media environment. And his campaign's response underscores rather than rebuts Ben and Maggie's point.