Newt Gingrich Earned Those Twitter Followers

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 2 2011 9:46 AM

Newt Gingrich Earned Those Twitter Followers

Based on the 2,000 Facebook "likes" the article's received, I'm guessing this anonymously-sourced piece about Newt Gingrich's Twitter followers will nestle into the lore of Campaign 2012. Too bad. It's probably bogus. A former Gingrich staffer -- and there are many! -- told John Cook this.

Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater.

A great accusation, one that fits with the theme of "Newt 2012: The Campaign That Does Everything Wrong, and Expensively So." But there aren't any facts backing it up. What are these "variety of agencies" that Newt allegedly pays? The source doesn't say, neither do the campaign's finance reports. Moreover, as Ben Smith points out, Gingrich's follower count was surging long before he launched his campaign. He was added to the "Suggested User List" in late 2009, in part because of complaints about the political slant of the "recommended" pols on the list. As this chart from TwitterCounter shows, Gingrich was well over 1 million followers at the start of 2011, before he staffed up his campaign, and long before he launched it.

twittercounter.chart

The upshot of the Gawker story doesn't seem to be that Gingrich paid for followers. It seems to be that his former staffers are gossipy jerks with adjustable definitions of the truth. We sort of knew that already.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.