Squabble between Cheney sisters is a Facebook phenomenon
You’re probably aware by now that Liz Cheney (above, right), the daughter of a Republican politician and one in her own right, has angered her lesbian sister Mary by coming out against gay marriage.
This family feud is fascinating on several counts, including the role played by social media.
Joshua Tucker ANALYZES the situation:
As we and others have reported, a dispute over gay marriage between former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughters Liz and Mary spilled into the public view this weekend. Beyond the actual family feud, though, it is interesting to note the manner in which this discussion became public. Liz voiced her opinions in a rather traditional way for politicians, speaking on a Sunday morning talk show. Mary, however, responded as non-politicians often do these days: on Facebook. More specifically, she “shared” a status update by her wife Heather Poe expressing displeasure with Liz’s comments. Moreover, she also added her own endorsement of Poe’s comments while sharing them.
The fact that Mary Cheney chose to respond on Facebook raises the question once again of how public figures’ use of social media has the potential to change the nature of political communication…
It is possible that Liz Cheney may have decided ahead of time that she wanted to talk about gay marriage and what she wanted to say, but at the very least she could not completely control how the subject was raised, what exactly she was asked, when she was asked it, etc. Had she chosen an alternative traditional route of communication such as a press conference, she would still have had to deal with exactly how journalists chose to report what she said. Now this is not to say that many people will not read about Mary Chaney’s Facebook comments in the mass media via the filter of reporters who will selectively quote from the Facebook Page, but the fact remains that she could craft exactly what she wanted to be on that page.
It is of course possible that Mary Cheney and Heather Poe saw this coming and had planned ahead of time to respond on Facebook whenever Liz Cheney spoke publicly about gay marriage, and maybe Poe even had a draft post all ready to go. But more likely is that Heather Poe and Mary Cheney heard Liz Cheney speak and quickly responded. Social media, however, made that response both permanent and public. Fifteen to 20 minutes is not a long time to consider the ramifications of one’s comments, and I wonder if Heather Poe and Mary Cheney had had to go through traditional routes to respond publicly to Liz Cheney if they would still have ultimately said the same thing.