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White House aide launches Twitter war

Forget the historic Battle of Gettysburg; a Twitter War became the White House’s skirmish du jour.

As thousands gathered in Gettysburg to mark the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, an Obama aide, Dan Pfeiffer, couldn’t help but incite the Twitterverse with what – at the least – can be seen as a sarcastic roll of the eyes directed at two prominent political journalists.

To launch a Twitter battle, you need a questioner, a responder or two, and most definitely a sarcastic, scathing or mocking tweet from a bigwig. Check, check and check.

Ron Fournier, National Journal columnist, launched the opening salvo yesterday morning, tweeting his colleague George E. Condon Jr.’s article titled, “Obama Snubs 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg Address.” The subhead proved equally damning: “His decision is doubly surprising because he has so often tied himself to his fellow Illinoisan Lincoln.”

He posed a simple question to Pfeiffer.

In jumped Jeff Solnet, who works for Fenway Strategies which is run by Jon Favreau, former Obama speechwriter, and Tommy Vietor, former Obama spokesman.

New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin weighed in, disagreeing in 18 truncated words.

Pfeiffer, presumably checking his feed from the White House, decides to answer the question. If he had stopped here -- with this tweet – I’d be writing about Rob Ford instead.

Succinct, to the point, albeit missing an apostrophe. What Pfeiffer didn’t say was that the president was attending a Wall Street Journal CEO forum later in the day to talk about the economy, and that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell attended the ceremony in his place.

Fournier, former AP Washington Bureau Chief, doesn’t let go.  And that’s when Pfeiffer detonates the bomb that rocked the Internet.

All of this happened before 10:30 in the morning. The responses and retweets numbered in the hundreds with angry conservatives attacking Pfeiffer for his snarky remark.

As in all Twitter wars, what good is a fight if no one knows about it?

Fact is, Pfeiffer could have responded in many ways. He could have said, "Looking forward, what memorials should presidents always attend in person?" or ‘The President is working to get jobs for Americans.” Or, he could have ignored the question. 

But, that’s not the way Twitter works. If you’re on it, you have to be clever, quick, and sarcastic to gain respect. Those exchanges can be fun, and smart, and even silly. But when the exchanges go viral, it can be wearying.  By the end of the work day, two players had enough.

No doubt Pfeiffer felt the same way.

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What would Top Twitter Talk be without an item on Canada’s finest mayor, Mr. Rob Ford?

HuffPost Canada community manager, Ron Nurwisah, tweets the latest on the lying, crack-smoking, threatening, newly minted Toronto TV star who has been stripped of most of his governing powers.

He’s still in office, going strong. But, Variety reports his reality TV show, Ford Country, is cancelled after only one episode. He'll just have to settle for starring in his real-life drama instead. 

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Watch Lauren every Sunday on #MediaBuzz at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.

If you’d like to recommend your favorite political tweets, email laurenashburnFNC@yahoo.com or send her a tweet @laurenashburn with the hashtag #TwitterTalk.

Lauren Ashburn joined the network in 2013 and currently serves as a Washington-based contributor for FOX News Channel (FNC). On MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz, Ashburn contributes commentary on the state of the news media shaping current events, their role in politics, cultures, business, and tech. Click here for more information on Lauren Ashburn