President Barack Obama said in a statement from the White House Thursday night that he has authorized airstrikes against ISIS forces in Iraq to protect American personnel and Iraqi refugees, as well as humanitarian airdrops.
In terms of the statement’s tone, Obama walked a fine line between announcing action and emphasizing that it does not signal a return to large-scale military involvement in the country. The line "today America is coming to help," in response to refugees’ concerns that the international community has abandoned them, was likely meant to be its most memorable point of emphasis.
The major cable news networks broadcast the statement live.
Here’s how the White House used digital and social media to amplify its position:
A blog post on the White House’s official website included an embedded YouTube video of the address and a transcript of the president’s statement.
The White House’s Twitter account, and that of Press Secretary Josh Earnest, pulled quotes from the statement.
"Today I authorized two operations in Iraq — targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort" —Obama— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 8, 2014
POTUS: Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, "There is no one coming to help." Well today, America is coming to help.— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) August 8, 2014
It also alerted Facebook followers that the speech was happening and quoted the president alongside an image.
Earlier in the day, the administration also posted a shot of the president meeting with his national security advisers in the Situation Room on both Instagram and Flickr.
Official White House photographer Pete Souza also Tweeted a link to the image.
President Obama meets with his national security team today in the Situation Room: http://t.co/kYSayEEdFT— petesouza (@petesouza) August 7, 2014
However, the most pivotal use of Twitter by a US official took place earlier in the day. Late Thursday afternoon, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby used the platform to push back against reports that the US had already carried out airstrikes in Iraq. The New York Times cited Iraqi and Kurdish officials in reporting that US planes had bombed ISIS targets in the country and sent out an email news alert on the subject.
Press reports that US has conducted airstrikes in Iraq completely false. No such action taken.— Rear Adm. John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 7, 2014
Update: Kirby also announced on Twitter Friday morning that the US had struck ISIS artillery near Ebril, Iraq.
US military aircraft conduct strike on ISIL artillery. Artillery was used against Kurdish forces defending Erbil, near US personnel.— Rear Adm. John Kirby (@PentagonPresSec) August 8, 2014