Coalition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull could get media mogul Rupert Murdoch on the phone, but via Twitter, millions of other people have been able to see their conversation.
A tweet sent from the Coalition frontbencher to the media mogul over the weekend - supporting tighter gun laws in the United States - has been retweeted more than 2400 times, with more than 1000 ‘‘favourites’’, as of Monday morning.
On Monday, Mr Turnbull estimated the tweet would now be on ‘‘several million devices’’.
On Saturday, in the wake of the shooting in Connecticut where 26 people were killed at an elementary school, Mr Turnbull replied to a tweet by Mr Murdoch.
‘‘Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy,’’ Mr Murdoch said.
Mr Turnbull then observed: ‘‘@rupertmurdoch I suspect they will find the courage when Fox News enthusiastically campaigns for it.’’
According to Twitter Counter, Mr Turnbull - who currently has about 136,000 Twitter followers - got an extra 1800 followers out of the comeback.
Mr Turnbull told Fairfax Media that he was surprised that his tweet had been retweeted so many times, but as a ‘‘keen observer of social media,’’ he was ‘‘always interested to see its viral nature’’.
‘‘Of course not every tweet is retweeted many times ... but there’s the potentiality for it,’’ he said, noting that the reach of people’s comments was determined by the reactions of others, not newspaper editors or TV producers.
‘‘[Social media is] messy and it's often abusive and all of that stuff but it is nonetheless a very interestingly democratic phenomenon.’’
Mr Turnbull said he didn’t know whether Mr Murdoch read his tweets: ‘‘I’ve got no idea whether he takes any notice of it at all.’’
But even though the Coalition’s communications spokesman said he never had any difficulty getting in touch with Mr Murdoch, having known him for almost 40 years, he has no plans to make a call this time around on gun law reform.
‘‘It sounds like he has the same views that I do,’’ Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said that the media mogul had an extraordinary ability to influence political opinion in the United States. The political demographic of Fox News viewers was predominantly Republican and not in favour of gun reform, he said, and the network could be a ‘‘game changer’’ on the issue.
‘‘Is Fox News prepared to run the risk of alienating or offending some of its core demographic?’’ he asked.
‘‘The New York Times writes editorials calling for gun control; they’re kind of preaching to the choir.’’
Mr Murdoch’s initial tweet to his 379,800 followers has so far generated about 3028 retweets and 523 favourites.