Is This The GOP Attempting To Understand Kids?

Politico got its hands on a breaking piece of congressional news early Wednesday: Senator Rand Paul has joined Snapchat. What a scoop! I can’t imagine what he’ll snap about! Here’s what Politico has to say about the bombshell revelation:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will announce Wednesday that he is joining Snapchat, the disappearing-photo service that has become one of the most popular social-messaging platforms for young people. His handle will be SenatorRandPaul. He’ll announce the move on Facebook, and plans to send his first snap Wednesday night.

Got that? Now, here’s Salon’s Andrew Leonard explaining why this isn’t actually news at all:

[T]o consider this offering from Politico an actual piece of journalism is an embarrassment to anyone who has ever earned their living as a reporter. It’s a press release, pure-and-simple, generated by Rand Paul’s office, devoid of anything resembling value-added analysis. Politico must have calculated that the words Rand Paul and Snapchat placed together in a headline would generate enough pageviews to obscure the complete lack of newsworthiness.

Leonard is spot-on. Paul’s move does, however, represent a broader strategy within the GOP to figure out what the kids are doing on social media and co-opt it to push conservative policies. (Paul hasn’t done this with Snapchat yet, but it would be foolish to think he won’t do so as soon as he figures out how it works.) This, presumably, is how the the Republican Party plans to win over young voters, but past attempts at doing so have been, well, kind of lame. For example, here’s the National Republican Congressional Committee’s flagrant attempt to BuzzFeed-ify the GOP:

Doesn’t that make you want to vote Republican? In any event, the Politico “report,” to such an extent that it contained any reporting, didn’t even have its facts right: Paul has, in fact, already sent his first snap.

The postscript here is that, in a Vine, Paul cheekily explained that he was joining Snapchat so as to “not leave a trace for the NSA.” But Snapchat recently experienced a massive security breach, which resulted in its users personal information being leaked all over the Internet. That seems like something Paul might also have a problem with, so either he didn’t know much about Snapchat before hopping on the bandwagon, or he didn’t care.