Speaker of the House Paul Ryan thought he was posting a harmless selfie with Capitol Hill interns. Instead he set off a firestorm about diversity in the GOP — and days later Democrats aren't letting him forget it, posting a selfie of their own with just a touch more diversity.
Ryan posted Saturday a selfie of himself with the interns in the ever-popular Ellen-Degeneres-at-the-Oscars style, in which a whole mess of folks cram into frame. "I think this sets a record for the most number of #CapitolHill interns in a single selfie. #SpeakerSelfie," he captioned it.
It was quickly pointed out that the group of interns were almost entirely white. The mocking tweets poured in. The hashtag #GOPsoWhite took off. It was later reported by USA Today that there were interns from both sides of the aisle who attended the event where the photo was taken, but many still criticized Ryan for not considering the lack of diversity in the picture.
Democratic interns responded Tuesday night to the Ryan selfie. Representative E.B. Johnson, a Texas Democrat, posted a number of photos of what she said were Democratic House of Representatives interns. She included the hashtags #DemInternSelfie, #DemDiversity, #Diversity and, in a direct shot at Ryan, #speakerselfie.
"The picture of the Democratic interns look a lot different than the #speakerselfie," Johnson wrote. Johnson also noted that the picture idea was led by her intern, Audra Jackson.
The Democratic intern selfies do seem to show promise that Capitol Hill could become a more inclusive place in the future. As it stands, that might not be the case. A 2015 study by the Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies, found that "although people of color make up over 36 percent of the U.S. population and over 28 percent of the citizen voting-age population, they represent only 7.1 percent of top Senate staffers."