Just how seriously should Twitter take the RNC and NRSC decision to pull advertising from the platform? RNC chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo that the Code Red is just the beginning. McDaniel hinted that Twitter might lose its most celebrated generator of content and views if they don’t stop discriminating against Republicans:
BARTIROMO: Republicans taking on social media now after Twitter froze Mitch McConnell’s reelection account for posting a live stream of threats directed at the Senate majority leader, there were protests outside his home. The National Republican Senatorial Committee says it will not spend any money on Twitter unless the situation is adequately addressed. Ronna, do you think Twitter really cares that the Republicans will not spend any money, is this enough to actually make a difference?
CHAIRWOMAN MCDANIEL: I think Twitter does care because there’s one person that has revived Twitter, that has made Twitter a household name and that’s President Donald J. Trump. For them to arbitrarily apply a different standard to conservatives than they are doing to Democrats, to allow the #MassacreMitch to continue and to not allow Mitch McConnell to put a video out of people protesting outside of his house, is a total double standard. We are going to hold them accountable. The RNC has also pulled ad funding which is a significant amount. They need to come forward with how they are going to the apply the standards and are they going the apply them equally to the Democrats and Republicans.
Is McDaniel threatening that Donald Trump will boycott Twitter over its treatment of Republicans? Heaven forfend! That might actually be The Big One, at least in terms of media interest. Nothing else that gets transmitted on the platform is as impactful or meaningful — not necessarily because of its content but because of the import of the office attached to it.
It seems unlikely that Trump would give up Twitter under any circumstances, however. The longest he’s gone between tweets might be a few days, although it’s tough to recall any such gap. Long gone are the chin-stroking debates over the wisdom of having the leader of the free world doing stream-of-consciousness commentary on any social media platform; @RealDonaldTrump is as much part of the political landscape as talking-head cable shows. It’s as much a part of Trump’s political strategy as his rallies, and likely just as personally satisfying, too. He’s not going to leave Twitter, not even with a team of horses pulling him away from his smartphone.
That doesn’t mean Trump will sit on the sidelines, of course. As Amber Phillips notes at the Washington Post, the controversy plays right into Trump’s hands:
McConnell’s Twitter problem was already a national story, but Trump jumping in made it even bigger. It makes political sense that Trump would seek out a fight with social media companies. These companies, largely located in liberal Silicon Valley, are increasingly moderating the political debate. Campaigns advertise on them. Advocates coordinate on them. Russia tries to interfere in elections on them.
Accusing these powerful corporations of having it out for conservatives fits neatly with Trump’s overarching, populist narrative that the upper echelons of American society have it out for him and his supporters. He’s not just trying to drain the government swamp; he’s trying to take on big corporations, as well.
Trump has gone so far as to suggest that the U.S. government sue Google and Facebook. He even recently accused Google of trying to rig its search results to cause him to lose in the 2020 presidential election. “A lot of bad things are happening,” he said at a social media summit at the White House in July with some of the Internet’s most controversial and conservative actors. …
Now, to the extent he wants to, Trump can point to Twitter freezing a prominent account for the most prominent senator — for an admittedly perplexing reason — to make his case that social media companies apply the rules unfairly to conservatives.
This headache will extend well beyond Twitter’s advertising revenue. Bartiromo might be correct about that impact, but Twitter’s execs and its investors will be paying very close attention to what comes next.