US President Barack Obama’s candid thoughts about rapper Kanye West are provoking a debate over standards of journalism in the Twitter age.
ABC News says it was wrong for its employees to tweet that Obama had called West a “jackass” for his treatment of country singer Taylor Swift.
The network said some of its employees had overheard a conversation between the president and CNBC’s John Harwood and didn’t realise it was off the record.
The employees were drawn to chatter about West, widely criticised for interrupting Swift as she accepted an award at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, to say Beyonce deserved it
“I thought that was really inappropriate,” Obama says. “What are you butting in (for)?”
A questioner chimes in, “Why would he do it?” “He’s a jackass,” Obama replies, which is met with laughter.
The president seems to quickly realise he may have gone too far, and jovially appeals to those assembled that the remark be kept private. “Come on guys,” he says. “Cut the president some slack. I've got a lot of other stuff on my plate.”
Before it was ABC’s air or Website, at least three network employees took to social networking site Twitter to spread the news.
One was Terry Moran, a former White House correspondent. He typed on Twitter: “Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a ‘jackass’ for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT’S presidential.”