Last week, the Chattanooga Times Free Press announced that they'd hired Drew Johnson as the opinion editor. A short time later, James Harrison tweeted, "Judging by his tweets, @tcpr may get fired before he writes his first @TimesFreePress op-ed. Completely out of line: http://bit.ly/Muqgwq"
There's only one problem: That's not Drew Johnson's real Twitter account. While @tcpr used to be the Twitter handle for Johnson's old gig at the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, when TCPR changed their name to Beacon, they got themselves a new Twitter handle (@beaconTN) and — inexplicably — let the old one go back up for grabs. And someone who is decidedly not Drew Johnson got hold of it.
The first tweet on the account read, "They may have taken my think tank tank and given it a gay ass name — but I got their twitter handle. Let's have some fun, bitches." That was back at the end of September, and for eight months @tcpr has chugged along being a fake account no one seems to have known was fake.
As our own J.R. Lind tweeted, "The fact that a number of totally reputable people thought @tcpr was legit GQ Drew says a lot about his reputation."
Fair enough. As Johnson tweeted at his newly created real account, "I have some suspicions. When your job is to be a watchdog and tell the truth about politicians, you make a few enemies."
And Johnson's enemies have been plentiful and vocal. Who can forget when Will Pinkston called him "a partisan nitwit"?
But this is also another chapter in the same old ongoing story of folks you'd think would know better being unsettlingly clueless at new media. It makes perfect sense that the Beacon Center would have a new Twitter handle for their new name, but why would they have given @tcpr up? It's lucky for them that someone snatched it up to pose as Drew Johnson instead of posing as them.
And then check out the Times Free Press article on the fake Twitter account. They say, "The newspaper's newly hired Free Press opinion editor was the victim of a mean-spirited Internet prank Saturday."
Saturday? Um, folks, your new opinion editor has been the victim of a mean-spirited "prank" since September. In fact, someone willing to churn along letting people assume he's Drew Johnson for eight months is not really "pranking" Johnson so much as someone being a huge fucking creepster. I mean, that is some fucked-up behavior there.
It'd be nice if that weren't minimized down to a day of "pranking."
Folks, I'm no Internet guru, but I have learned a few things online. One is that you shouldn't willingly give up any name/account/brand closely associated with you, even if you no longer use that name/account/brand, because some jackass will get a hold of it if you do. Another is that there are some fucking creepsters on the Internet, and if one of them has launched an eight-month long campaign to get confused with your employee, you shouldn't blow that off as a prank.
Hopefully this is just a minor annoyance to Johnson — and cause for whoever is behind the fake account to ask him- or herself, "If Johnson is so terrible, why am I spending so much time aping him?"