President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to communicate with the American public with fireside chats. He broadcast 30 of them on the radio between 1933 and 1944.
The Obama administration often communicates with the American public using new Internet tools. Most recently, the administration has created a Twitter feed and a web page devoted to the Iran nuclear agreement.
According to Politico, @TheIranDeal is the first time the administration has launched an issue-specific Twitter handle. "The president and Secretary of State John Kerry have used their own Twitter feeds to advocate for the deal, as have the White House and the State Department accounts," writes Nahal Toosi for Politico.
@TheIranDeal on Twitter asks users to "tweet us your questions, and we'll set the record straight." The interactivity of these communication efforts sets them apart from FDR's radio addresses. And might that interactivity be serving the interests of democracy?
"The handle's launch comes as the deal faces review in another major forum filled with naysayers: Congress, which has 60 days to review it," writes Nahal Toosi for Politico. "Republicans are threatening to try to stop President Barack Obama from suspending nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, but they are unlikely to get a veto-proof majority. Senior administration officials said they plan to cast @TheIranDeal as an account with a confident, have-at-me attitude, similar to the president's freewheeling news conference last week in which he practically dared the press corps to throw more questions about the deal at him so he could knock down criticisms."
The administration's web page about the deal, "The Historic Deal That Will Prevent Iran From Acquiring A Nuclear Weapon," explains the issue using infographics and a question and answer format.
On Twitter, an account called @TheIranBomb, with a similar logo, promises to torment the White House account. A parody account called @TheIranMeal appeared on Tuesday, also bearing a similar logo, but with a focus on Persian food.
"More playfully, @TheIranMeal seems to exist in a universe where the multilateral agreement involved the safe handling of delicious, addictive Persian cuisine," writes Ivan Pils at The Daily Caller. "Despite appearing to imitate Iran's diplomatic team, the account is also critical of the Iranian regime. One tweet urged Iran's government to release Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who as of Wednesday has spent a full year imprisoned on shady charges."