Sid Miller Must Take Responsibility for His Social Media Use
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has been in the news a lot lately. Perhaps too much for his own good. Now, he's back in the spotlight because of posts that he made on Facebook. Not just posts that he has made recently, but posts over a wide- ranging amount of time.
This past Saturday, the Texas Tribune published a piece detailing Miller's habit of posting news stories that weren't exactly true. According to the Tribune, Miller has over 340,000 followers on Facebook, which means he has the possibility of reaching a large audience.
On Wednesday, Miller gave an interview to KUT News where he told reporter Nathan Bernier that he "wasn't a news organization" and that "Y'all are holding me to the same standards as you are a news organization, and it's just Facebook." Just Facebook, in 2016.
Miller also made it clear in the interview that he didn't care if what he posted as news was real or fake:
“Hundred and fifty posts a week. No, I’m not going to research every one of them,” he told Bernier. “If it’s thought-provoking, I’ll put it up there and let the readers decide. Everyone that reads that is grown ups. It’s like Fox News: I report, you decide if it’s true or not."
Miller defended himself by saying that he isn't like any other statewide official:
"I’ve never been politically correct. I really never cared what the press said or does, I do my thing. I do what I think’s best for Texas.”
I'm all for doing what's best for Texas, and I don't mind at all when people, including elected officials, decide to go against what is politically correct. However, Miller's excuse for not taking responsibility for what he posts on Facebook and social media is absurd and, frankly, pretty stupid.
It's one thing when your uncle emails you a story about an Islamic terrorist training compound outside of Houston. It's far different when an elected official posts the same story on Facebook for all to read, which Miller did.
Miller must hold himself, and must be held by all Texans, to a higher standard. This isn't a Republican vs. Democrat issue. Whether Miller knows it or not, and I believe he does, he is someone who has influence over a great number of Texans. Many of those who follow Miller on Facebook believe that what he is posting is real and accurate news. Miller has never said on social media before, 'Hey maybe this story is real, maybe it's not... good luck figuring it out!' And the reason why he has never done so is because he wants to have credibility. Miller's credibility seems to be slipping for many Texans, and he isn't doing much to restore it.
While Miller believes everyone who reads his Facebook is a grown-up, I believe that most of those grown-ups don't want to be lied to or mislead. They want real and accurate news. Not only should they want real and accurate news, but they should expect that a statewide official would only post real and accurate news.
Miller can learn a lot from other statewide officials in Texas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott uses social media to spread real news and to connect with voters. He shares the greatness of Texas via Twitter and Facebook and has credibility with voters. I believe that if Gov. Abbott were to share something that was false, he would be a man about it and admit to his mistake.
Miller says his Facebook is like FOX News -- "he reports, you decide if it's true or not." That isn't how the news works and it shouldn't be how our elected officials work either. Shame on Sid Miller.