Locking out ‘Team Mitch’ could cost Twitter

Decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect

Twitter locked out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Twitter locked out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 8, 2019 at 3:42pm

The decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect.

The Republican National Committee, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign as well as the House and Senate GOP campaign committees took that step in response to the social media platform’s temporary lockout of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account.

[McConnell fractures shoulder at home in Kentucky]

“Twitter has a clear bias against conservatives and Republicans. The hashtag associated the disgusting threats against Mitch McConnell was allowed to trend for an entire day. But McConnell’s posting of video of the threats themselves got his own account suspended. It is ludicrous bias in the extreme,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

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The Trump campaign was planning to spend as much as $500,000 on Twitter in August, dependent on performance, according to a campaign source.

“Twitter’s hostile actions toward Leader McConnell’s campaign are outrageous, and we will not tolerate it. The NRSC will suspend all spending with Twitter until further notice,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “We will not spend our resources on a platform that silences conservatives.”

According to a tweet from RNC Chief of Staff Richard Walters, both the committee and the Trump campaign dollars may not be coming back simply with the restoration of access to McConnell’s “Team Mitch” account.

“Any future ad $ either organization was planning to spend with @Twitter has been halted until they address this disgusting bias,” Walters tweeted.

The NRSC and the National Republican Congressional Committee also announced a temporary stop to Twitter advertising in response to Wednesday’s suspension of access to the McConnell account. The NRCC declined a request for details of Twitter spending, and the NRSC did not immediately respond.

The social media platform had told reporters, as well as the McConnell campaign, that the suspension was due to the posting of a video featuring profanity and threats made against the Senate majority leader outside his home in Louisville, Kentucky.

McConnell has been working from home after falling and fracturing a shoulder on Sunday.

The Republican Governors Association and the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on supporting members of the GOP in state legislative races, also joined the fray.

McConnell’s campaign on Thursday afternoon circulated a release that highlighted the outcry about the suspension, including from some traditional political opponents.

“Twitter users from across the ideological spectrum are sounding the alarm about the corporation’s shameful suppression attempt,” the campaign said. “Try as they might to silence Team Mitch, the Twitter executives behind the decision to lock our official account for posting a video of violent threats directed at Sen. McConnell have only unleashed an avalanche of criticisms and concerns regarding freedom of speech.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story, but a spokesperson was quoted by Politico as saying that McConnell’s political operation was “temporarily locked out of their account for a tweet that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety.”

Jacob Fischler contributed to this report.