- By Eric Webb American-Statesman Staff
Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but tweets are news these days. In the Trump era, policy announcements, White House staff drama and information relevant to ongoing Russian collusion investigations all reach the public through Twitter. In the paraphrased words of Drake: Started from South by Southwest, now we here, eh? The social media platform has come a long way since its meteroic rise began in Austin in 2007.
It was a big week for tweets becoming headlines. In honor of that, this week’s space is dedicated to some of the American-Statesman’s most viral stories of the past couple of weeks that started with 140 characters or less. Some were lighter than others; none of them, however, tagged Reince Priebus at the end.
City Hall clapback
In light of President Donald Trump’s Wednesday announcement that transgender Americans will be banned from serving in the military, Austin’s mayor had a message: Kicked out? Come to Austin.
In the first of a series of three tweets, Mayor Steve Adler said, “If you’re qualified to keep our country safe you’re qualified to keep Austin safe. Transgender Americans are welcome on our police force.” Adler continued, tweeting that Austin is the “safest big city in Texas” due to its respect for people’s differences. He also tweeted out a link to the application website for Austin Police Department: “If you get kicked out of the service because you’re transgender, please apply to join our police force.”
The response to Adler’s tweets from Twitter users was mixed (as was the response from American-Statesman readers when the news broke earlier in the day).
Trump’s announcement (which also happened on Twitter) did not specify what would happen to transgender people already in the military. In a White House press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the details were still being worked out.
Tears in our spicy ketchup
Ed Johnson has been going to his favorite Whataburger in El Paso about every day since April 2016. He started going there for coffee and breakfast ever since his wife of almost 50 years died of liver cancer, according to his granddaughter Emma Carr.
Last Monday was Johnson’s 80th birthday. He did what he always does every morning. He went to Whataburger for coffee and breakfast. Except that Monday, he was greeted with vanilla cake and balloons from the store’s general manager.
“My grandpa goes to @ Whataburger everyday for breakfast so the local workers surprised him today with a cake&balloons for his birthday,” Carr tweeted July 24.
Whataburger even replied on Twitter: “We hope he had a great birthday!”
“His reaction was perfect,” Carr, who was also there for the celebration, told the Houston Chronicle. “He teared up. He’s super humble. He doesn’t expect anyone to do anything for him. He was just shocked that anyone thought of this. He considers the workers at Whataburger his family.”
Carr’s tweet went viral and was the catalyst for a Twitter Moment, where various Twitter users praised the El Paso Whataburger and Johnson’s good breakfast taste.
One Twitter user’s reaction: “All I see is that you can eat Whataburger everyday and still have a long life.”
— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff
‘Bawitdaba’: a fine campaign song
A few days after Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller took to Facebook to endorse Kid Rock in his Michigan Senate run, Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted out, “IT’S HAPPENING!”
The Sunday tweet was in reference to a poll that showed the rap-rock artist (aka Robert James Ritchie) with a 4-point lead over opponent Debbie Stabenow.
“THIS will shake up Washington,” Abbott said.
The tweet, which was retweeted about 5,000 times and garnered some 10,000 likes by the end of the week, was considerably more popular than many of Abbott’s other tweets.
Twitter is also the platform that Kid Rock used to announce his candidacy earlier this month.
— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff
Home sour home
Two Texas teens got positively roasted on Twitter after making a joke that they’d bought a house together.
According to Buzzfeed, 17-year-old Natalia Kaiser and her boyfriend, 16-year-old Joe O’Brien, both from Burleson, went on vacation with O’Brien’s family recently to visit some relatives in North Carolina. While they were there, the teen lovebirds took a photo in front of O’Brien’s aunt’s house in matching neon-orange T-shirts. Adorable, right?
Kaiser thought the photo looked like a “we bought a house!” announcement, so she decided to make it one as a joke.
“We just bought our first house at the age of 17&16. So proud of how hard we worked these last few years to get it,” she wrote.
But people didn’t quite catch on to her sarcasm, and the joke backfired. Kaiser’s mentions blew up really quickly: “This is one of the most self congratulatory things I have ever seen,” one user tweeted. “Naahhh they may have been trusted with the home but mommy and daddy are definitely somewhere on the Note,” another wrote.
Kaiser kept the joke going, even after people called her out. She later wrote, “I’m a really sarcastic person and it’s hard for people to read that on Twitter. But the people I do know personally know it’s all a joke.”
Kaiser and O’Brien told Buzzfeed they couldn’t believe some of the mean messages they received. And she got the last word, finally changing her Twitter bio to “I am not a home owner.”
Let this be a lesson to you would-be pranksters of the world: You never know what people will believe. And also, you never know what the internet will turn into a meme.
— Katey Psencik, American-Statesman staff
What could a popular conspiracy theorist and a reality star possibly have in common? A mutual appreciation for snorkeling and vacation destinations, for starters.
You might remember Spencer Pratt as one half of “Speidi,” the supercouple featured on MTV’s 2000s reality show “The Hills.” He and his wife, Heidi Montag, recently traveled to Hawaii, and Pratt tweeted that he spotted controversial media figure Alex Jones on vacation: “Yo Alex jones is snorkeling in front of me.” He later caught the Infowars host walking shirtless poolside.
This might seem like an odd pairing, but Pratt and Jones have a history. In 2009, Pratt and Montag called into Jones’ radio show to discuss the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, global warming and then-President Barack Obama.
Pratt later caught up with Jones at what looked to be a restaurant. Jones congratulated Pratt, whose wife is seven months pregnant. According to website The Cut, the pair have made plans to go snorkeling together.
— Maribel Molina, American-Statesman staff