The Washington Post, paper of record in the company town where politics is the monopoly industry, breathlessly recounts the saga of the Beltway’s latest masked marauder:
Inside the National Security Council, most officials aren’t allowed to use or even look at Twitter, the popular social-networking service.
But that didn’t stop some of President Obama’s top advisers from trying to identify the person responsible for @natsecwonk, an anonymous Twitter account that published a steady stream of personal and sometimes offensive attacks on White House and State Department officials.
Three weeks ago, the group hatched a plan to trick the suspected NSC staffer into revealing himself. They would intentionally plant inaccurate, but harmless, information with him to see if it would pop up as a 140-character tweet, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the effort.
It is not clear whether the sting led directly to the unmasking last week of Jofi Joseph, 40, who was identified as the creative force behind @natsecwonk and was fired from his position on the administration’s Iran negotiations team. But the lengths to which White House officials went to find Joseph reveal how much of an embarrassment his Twitter feed had become inside the West Wing and across the street at the stately Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where Joseph worked alongside his NSC colleagues while secretly skewering them online.
“It was like they were hunting for bin Laden in a cave and he was right in the belly of the beast all along ,” said a former NSC official who worked with Joseph, marveling that he was able to keep his identity secret for over two years…
Although @natsecwonk did not have a large audience by Twitter standards — fewer than 1,600 followers before the account was taken offline last week — the feed was watched closely by an influential circle of foreign policy experts in Washington think tanks, on Capitol Hill, and at the NSC, the State Department and the Pentagon.
The willingness of @natsecwonk to mock and insult the administration from a clearly Democratic point of view made it a refreshingly unpredictable read in partisan Washington — at least for those who were spared Joseph’s scathing abuse. Any preening or inflation of credentials was cause for ridicule…
No mocking the preening, Joseph! Because DC is a Very Serious Town, full of Very Serious People!
Elsewhere in the media, at the same time, NYMag‘s culture blog measures the real-world value of Twitter celebrity:
To a certain group of fans, Benedict Cumberbatch is the most important person on Earth. These people — Cumberbitches, as they have named themselves on Twitter and elsewhere — have an active subreddit devoted to the Sherlock star’s exploits; they GIF and meme him on countless Tumblrs. (Have you seen the one about the otters? It’s pretty good.) The Cumberbitches have gained such notoriety that Benedict himself is quizzed about them in interviews. (“It’s flattering, though I worry about what it says about feminism,” he told InStyle. “It’s quite a pejorative term.”) When he was recently denied the American cover of Time (he remained on international editions), the Cumberbitches pilloried the magazine on Twitter.
Time presumably made this decision because a majority of its readers have no idea who Benedict Cumberbatch is. Despite a prominent if spoiler-protected role in the very profitable Star Trek Into Darkness and 3.2 million viewers for Sherlock — plus, of course, the hard work of the Cumberbitches, who tweeted about him roughly 700,000 times this year — Cumberbatch only has a 10 percent awareness rating in America, according to the market research firm E-Score, which provided data for Vulture’s Most Valuable Stars equation. Put bluntly: He is an enormous star on the Internet — outside of that, not so much…
Apart from acknowledging the limits of being A Big Deal on the Internets, what’s on the agenda for the evening?
Another Sox win – 27-0.
Lacking a weapon with the sparkle of a Ted Cruz, California Republicans try to stir up the gun-fondlers with their closest thing: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R, Packin’ heat at the nearest airport security line).
Recall economics–who knew? I can actually feel the ground swelling.
I realized what Twitter really is: Life as told by newspaper headlines.
A Cardinals bounce back from last night’s debacle.
maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor
In fairness, shitting where you eat will get you canned from just about any job, anywhere.
But that totes gets in the way of AL’s PUMA shtick.
@maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor:
Even if you’re only making fun of a dusky usurper?
@maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor: if you don’t like your job or your bosses and you have skills, you can always find another job, true? isn’t that what the free market fairies tell us?
Take that, Snowden.
@maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor: I am also willing to bet he knew that confidentiality was a job requirement.
These words…together…they can’t exist. It’s like light escaping a large circling gravitational type thing.
Paging John Cole.
Wow. Just… wow. What do they call those, a Hoekstroika? Does there need to be a new name for this kind of pretentious belief that you’re important and exciting when you’re just being an annoying little shit?
@Omnes Omnibus: Haven’t read the twit feed, but did he reveal anything Snowden-esque?
He certainly doesn’t look 40 in the pictures I’ve seen of him. I wonder what kind of moisturizer he uses.
I wouldn’t worry about him. I see a Fox gig and a book in his future.
They seek him here, they seek him there,
The NSC seeks everywhere.
Is he in heaven, or someplace sweeter?
That demned elusive Twitter tweeter?
You with all your fancy lawyer talk.
This guy is a persecuted hero.
Also, did you hear that Obama is going to make Larry Summers the new Fed chair?
No kidding. The notion that there is a clearly Democratic point of view on anything is absurd.
@maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor: Yep, people keep forgetting that the Scarlet Pimpernel (and all his offspring, from Zorro to Batman) was a fictional character. Mocking the “mighty” from inside is not a good survival strategy.
Gin & Tonic
@BGinCHI: Who’s that?
Jofi Joseph? That’s an unusual first name. “Benedict Cumberbatch” sounds like a minor character from a Chuck Dickens novel — maybe the guy at the second desk to the right from Bob Cratchit. Cumberbatch is catching some grief from Julian Assange over that movie, or so I hear. Maybe that’s worth a Balloon Juice comment thread.
@Corner Stone: I haven’t read it either. I did just find some of the tweets here.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Speaking of twitter, I stumbled in to this
@Cacti: While we’re on the topic of obscure literary references, have you ever run across the phrase “King Charle’s head“?
@Corner Stone: That truly made me snort. Thank you for the giggle, sir. Look at you with your meterosexual bad self.
@SiubhanDuinne: That’s perfect!
Gin & Tonic
@Amir Khalid: Can’t help wondering – are you an early riser or an insomniac?
If there’s ever a Glenn Greenwald biopic, there will be dueling posts from Cole and Mistermix about whether 10 or 20 oscars is enough, or maybe how the leading man wasn’t dashing or handsome enough.
I agree AL. It’s been 5 years since Obama beat your girl Hillary.
Time to let go.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: I’ve been following that. It’s amazeballs.
@Gin & Tonic:
The tweets posted with the article make him sound like a douchey 15 year old.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Amir Khalid: I found the commercials for that movie really off-putting. “THIS IS AN IMPORTANT FILM THAT WILL CHALLENGE YOU!”
@Omnes Omnibus: If those are actually representative of natsecwonk’s tweets, then why would anyone spend 2 seconds trying to find him?
He sounds like an understudy for The Devil Wears Prada sequel.
I find it hard to believe he had 1600 followers.
Oh, and have we talked about Dylan Byers at Politico wishing that healthcare.gov had been built on WordPress?
Well, that works in the old movies.
Gin & Tonic
@Cacti: Well-played, sir.
Is it just me, or do these “lengths” seem pretty basic, quick, and just a bog-standard spy novel plot point? I mean, in order to accomplish this, you just need a couple of hours from a couple of people. In The Human Factor, if I remember correctly, the same thing is accomplished in a fairly off-hand way by one guy.
Of course, for various reasons he gets the wrong guy, but still . . .
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: “THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW!!”
Gin & Tonic
@Amir Khalid: That was meant as an either/or question.
@TooManyJens: Clearly, our Media is morans. FYWP.
@Corner Stone: They were rather puerile. Since the account has been taken down that was the best I could find quickly. I presume some of the other tweets were better/more interesting, but maybe not.
Wait, David Copperfield is obscure now? I haz a sad.
Gin & Tonic
@Corner Stone: Sounds like the world stayed away in droves. The movie tanked.
Only Peter Jackson may tackle such an epic, and no fewer than three installments in order to properly reflect a single GG post.
@Gin & Tonic:
I was giving an enigmatic answer.
@Amir Khalid: I think the problem is this is only interesting to a very small segment of the population. Very, very small. 1.6 mil opening box office small.
@Gin & Tonic: Are you suggesting that not even the Cumberbitches could save it?
@Corner Stone: It puts the moisture on its skin…..
I don’t think even Peter Jackson could get two updates…errr sequels to the hollywood epic:
GG: Copecabana for Me, but Not for Thee
Can we have more threads for mocking Ron Fournier?
Unless we are going to get together and beat the shit out of him I think we need to savage him in virtual print.
@Omnes Omnibus: I hope to Christ there were more somewhere, because I’m having a hell of a time figuring out how those were used:
“to mock and insult the administration from a clearly Democratic point of view”
@BGinCHI: Why can’t we do both?
@Gin & Tonic:
Merit and commercial success don’t usually go hand-in-hand when it comes to movies. Reviews do suggest that Cummerbund Bandersnatch was pretty much spot-on in his portrayal of Assange in The Fifth Estate, so I’m curious about how much else the movie got right. Maybe this discussion needs to wait for the DVD release.
@SiubhanDuinne: David Copperfield is my favorite Dickens.
I also like Cumberbatch. His Sherlock is great. I also liked him in Tinker, Tailor and more recently in Parade’s end. Good actor, great voice and not too shabby to look at, what’s not to like. He actually comes across as an intelligent person in his TV interviews that I have seen. I don’t get the hate.
sending juvenile tweets making fun of your colleagues while working at NSC on the Iran negotiations team is just astoundingly bad judgment.
Meanwhile Beltway media discovers the blue screen of death.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Should prove to everyone that nothing beats good HUMINT.
@Omnes Omnibus: Baby steps.
Why is John Stewart an unlikely conservative hero, according to Newsmax?
Also, I saw Joan Walsh and Ezra Klein on Chris Hayes last night discussing Walsh’s criticism of Klein and other Liberal’s reaction to the healthcare.gov website issues. One thing that stuck out for me was at one point Ezra says to some extent he really doesn’t care about Liberal of Conservative, he’s just talking facts. Which is fine I guess, but why go on Morning Joe when you know they are going to spin that into some sort of “even the Liberal Ezra Klein says” type nonsense?
I’m just kind of amazed that website problems are suddenly the equivalent of the Iraq War or Katrina. It is a big deal and should be fixed asap, but some folks like Klein are going down the same road we saw with the IRS “scandal” in which Obama was about to be impeached, and was the new Nixon and then, nothing.
Tom Matzzie, formerly of MoveOn’s D.C. office, just live-tweeted former NSA and CIA head Michael Hayden’s interview he gave on “deep background” about NSA spying. Stupidly, Hayden gave the interview on the Acela train. Matzzie was sitting in front of him.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
He’s been concern trolling the O-care roll out with all his might
@Amir Khalid: You should note, I did say interest, not merit. A great many good things die an ignoble box office death. I can only assume Assange saw himself in the portrayal and was Not Pleased.
It’s almost like he doesn’t realize people really died in Katrina and the Iraq War. Or something.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Corner Stone: Well really, old top, that all really was all too bad, but those weren’t the sort of people one knows.
RE Cumberbatch, he also has a starring role in John Finnemore’s Cabin Pressure, a BBC serial radio sitcom that is simply wonderful (and sometimes available on YouTube, between takedowns).
RE Josi Jofeph, when it was initially announced that a loose-lipped tweeter inside the NSC had been exposed, I think everyone immediately hoped he’d been an outraged and principled truth-seeker taking to the internet because his sense of moral justice could be quieted no longer. Sadly, the tweets I’ve seen in the stories about him suggest he was just a massive douchenozzle, and somewhat bored.
Gin and Tonic
wow, now that’s a guy who knows the ins and outs of secrecy.
He’s in his early 40s. I’m pretty sure I know this guy–well, knew him. He’s from my hometown, and we graduated in the same year.
@Humanities Grad: Cumberbatch or Joseph?
Culture of Truth
He still seems like a jerk, and an idiot. I don’t care where you work, you don’t bash your boss or co workers and expect nothing to happen, much less when you do Iran negotiations for the NSC.
I was pretty sure this story was a massive zero because it turned up in the 10-second news segment they play on KROQ at about :15 minutes past the hour every morning. The guy who does it is one of the few firebaggers that can be spotted in the wild, so he’s always slipping something like this into what he decided is “news.”
(Doc on the Roq is who I’m talking about, for the locals.)
I read some of his tweets earlier today (somewhere; can’t recall where). I came away thinking he must be quite the special snowflake to think he wouldn’t be found out, and that those he worked with wouldn’t really, really like to shut his bitchy little mean girl mouth.
As for Mr. Cumberbatch: excellent intelligent actor, and now I like him even more for thinking the whole “Cumberbitches” think is rather retrograde. I can’t wait for another season of Sherlock, no matter how long it takes!
@Trollhattan: it would have to be George Lucas to accommodate perpetual updating.
I grabbed some screen shots of Tom Matzzie’s Twitter feed today …
Also, too, anonymously accusing one of your colleagues of being a leaker isn’t the smartest thing to do, especially when the guy is, y’know, innocent.
I don’t get why people say he’s good looking. I find him repellant looking. Not plain or quirky or even interesting looking. Just gross and I can’t imagine what other women see in him. He reminds me of a salamander. Creepy and slimy. But to each their own, I guess. I’ll keep George Clooney, TYVM. ;-)
@Warren Terra: Cabin Pressure, the Angel Islington in the recent Neverwhere with John Mcavoy. . . If only all such mere twitter phenomena were so worthwhile. Got some damn fine audiobooks, and the younger Horace Rumpole — haunting bbc4 radio has turned up any number of fine nothings.
Howard Beale IV
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: @Southern Beale:
That was very well played.
Hayden got violated by his own hand. Now if only someone from within the bowels of the NSA spilled his phone activity to show how compromised he really is…..
Yes ma’am, mine too, and I’ve always had a particularly soft spot for Mister Dick. And Aunt Betsey, of course.
Maybe Hayden was in the “quiet car” too.
@schrodinger’s cat: Speaking of someone who’s liked all of Cumberbatch’s performances that I’ve seen, I suspect that the Cumberbitches themselves aren’t doing his image any favors. It’s hard to find a forum that discusses the guy’s work without it being taken over by cries of “OMG MY OVARIES JUST EXPLODED”. And he’s odd-looking, to me anyway. Those tiny eyes, that long face, those little tufts of hair — he’s a Don Martin cartoon come to life.
@MaryRC: That seems to be a default no-brain expression of pleasure anymore. Hiddleston seems to elicit similar boilerplate. I rather enjoy it being a face, not a boy band facade, and a face that for all its essential oddness, can manage to be all over the place including goofy, bored, stunning, reserved and what was that. More a question of presence than simple looks. Jolie laide for des filles. His creature in Frankenstein, for example.
@MaryRC: He has a great voice. The Cumberbitches thing is a bit silly, I grant you that. He is not conventionally handsome but so what?
. Word. He is intelligent too, not your average Hollywood pretty boy.
@Humanities Grad: He was born in India and grew up in Muskegon, MI.
Yes, I know. I’m from the Muskegon area, originally.
Jeez. C’mon now of course any administration is going to shit bricks and do anything they can to find and stop someone who is tweeting smack about them from the inside.
Acting like any administration wouldn’t is the brain dead position. Do I like it? Eh. There are better things they could do with their time but I’ll give them the rooting out and stopping the guy. Hell, bush43 & Darth would have disappeared the guy (Baghram airbase prison? Guantanamo?).
A non mouse
Yes, he is forty – he graduated from Muskegon Catholic Central High School in 1990. I knew him back then.