Over the past week, West Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra’s use of Twitter while on a trip in Iraq, has been all over the local media and the liberal blogosphere. The Grand Rapids Press ran two articles, WOOD TV 8 ran several stories, WZZM 13 covered it, and so did WXMI. While covering what was a potentially serious issue and discussion, many stories opted to use rather tongue-and-cheek headlines such as “Hoekstra tweets set Congress a-twitter” and “Hoekstra’s trip twitters to an end” that made light of the story.
However, what is probably the most frustrating is that for all the coverage Hoekstra’s use of Twitter got, none of the media outlets in Grand Rapids bothered to report on Hoekstra’s trip to Iraq. This is unfortunate, because Hoekstra certainly made claims at a post-trip news conference that would have been worth investigating.
For example, Hoekstra makes the claim that the United States had defeated the “radical jihadists” in Iraq and that now those people–whom he does not define but associates with Al-Qaida–are moving “the focal point” of their efforts to Afghanistan. To that end, Hoekstra is now advocating a “strong military presence in Aghanistan.”
It was also news worthy that Hoekstra–a long time advocate of the US occupation of Iraq–said in the Ludington Daily News that “Everybody I talked to, and everything you saw there led you to be relatively optimistic … Now it’s a matter of how fast you pull down our troops.” Similarly, other Republicans on the trip to Iraq describe the “drawdown” of US troops from Iraq as “justifiable.”
Perhaps, the media looked at Hoekstra’s past statements on Iraq and found that he wasn’t a reliable source and decided not to report on his trip. After all, Hoekstra was the one who claimed in 2006 that Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) had been found in Iraq. The claim was quickly dismissed by experts on the topic who said that the weapons were outdated and discarded long before the 2003 invasion.
Sadly, this probably has more to do with the corporate media’s laziness and zest for inconsequential, novelty reporting–for example a politician using a newfangled Internet tool–than a rejection of Hoekstra as an unreliable source.