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Bob Buckhorn blocked me on Twitter

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Bob Buckhorn blocked me on Twitter. Or one of his staffers with access to his social media did. Or he told them to. In any case, I can’t view any of Buckhorn’s tweets.

A while back I wrote some fairly antagonistic stories about Tampa’s commander-in-chief. In early June when a 14-year old was gunned down in broad daylight, Buckhorn was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times basically blaming the victim for his own death.

I called him out on it.

Later, he offended Chicagoans by defending the Tampa Bay Lightning’s policy of not selling tickets to Stanley Cup games to out-of-towners by saying, “We didn’t want to lower our standards.”

I wrote that he seemed to have a foot-in-mouth problem.

Earlier I criticized the Mayor for comparing Hillsborough County School Board members to “Mean Girls.”

So, I expect I’m probably not Buckhorn’s favorite reporter. But I never expected to be blocked on Twitter for doing, what’s that thing called, MY JOB.

My reaction to being blocked came by way of a quick chuckle and I was maybe moderately annoyed. But there’s a much bigger problem here than just my feelings.

Like me or not, I’m a local reporter. It’s not my job to sing anyone’s praises all the time – though I’m happy to do so if it’s warranted. Buckhorn is the Mayor of a major metropolitan city and, as such, should expect to be the subject of great scrutiny. It’s my job to do the scrutinizing.

Does he really have such thin skin that he can’t handle a little bad press every now and then? And what does blocking me really accomplish other than getting more bad press for doing so?

I can still see his tweets by logging out of Twitter.

What this appears to be is the grownup’s 2015 version of a temper tantrum. Instead of crossing his arms and stamping his feet, Buckhorn blocks people.

What does it say about a Mayor who is so worried about what people are saying about them that he literally blocks them on social media? And this guy is rumored to be gunning for the Governor’s mansion. Rick Scott may be slimy, but at least he doesn’t go blocking every reporter who refers to him as Skeletor or Voldemort.

And just to be clear, this was no accident. Blocking someone on Twitter isn’t just a slip of the finger. You have to first go to a person’s profile and then you have to click on an itty-bitty icon in the corner and then click “block.”

I also emailed Buckhorn’s PR person, Ashley Bauman, asking to be unblocked. I have yet to receive a response and, as of posting this, am still indeed blocked.

This move also represents another problem. As a reporter I keep an eye on wherever news presents itself. In this era of Twitter and Facebook, that means watching the tweets and posts. When something snazzy happens in Tampa that I may find newsworthy, I’m not going to hear about it via Twitter thanks to Tampa’s thin-skinned Mayor.

And apparently I’m not the only one. Two others heard I was blocked and said they had been too. Though the sources didn’t want to be named (maybe for fear they may further tick off Tampa’s head honcho.)

The whole thing just seems unnecessary and childish. Not very Mayoral, certainly.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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