I noticed over a year and a half ago that Newt Gingrich had a million followers on Twitter. I didn’t believe it at the time, but I did note it.
Reason not to believe it? Two reasons: he’s so god-awful boring, and he’s dumb as a bug. Twitter itself ain’t exactly interesting, so I find it extremely difficult to believe a million people thrill to breaking Newt crap like this:
Now comes word, via Gawker and an anonymous tipster, that Newt’s 1.3 million followers are largely fake.
About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various “follow agencies,” another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves (Newt’s profile just happens to be a part of these networks because he uses them, although he doesn’t follow back), and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich. If you simply scroll through his list of followers you’ll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated. Pathetic, isn’t it?
That makes sense. Newt is essentially a fulmination of his fragile ego. He cranks out vapid books loaded with vainglorious schemes to solve everything from cockroach infestations to colonizing the moon. His ‘history’ tomes are self-serving fantasies where he goes back in time, invents a Gingrich-ian turn of events and hunts the trail into wonderland.
So why would a Gingrich Twitter reality be any different? It isn’t. I went to his ‘followers’ page and took up the scent where Gawker led off — at followers who didn’t bother to post any image on their account. Turns out there are a lot of these strange Twits: no image, no caption, no tweets of their own (maybe one, sometimes two). Over and over, of these Newt fans, you find the same invisible profiles.
And they all follow a hilariously generic group of political Twitter feeds. They can’t wait to hear from Large Political Institution. Contrastingly, Newt fans, and there are mountains of them, remember, you expect to be hardcore Republicans and right-wingers. Recall also that Twitter users tend to be younger and ‘hipper’ than your usual political junkies. So you’d expect also to see them follow presidential candidates like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. To be interested in Rand Paul and Marco Rubio. To want to see the latest from blogs like Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government and Dim Jim Hoft’s Gateway Pundit. But no.
Who do the Newt ‘followers’ follow? The British Monarchy. The United Nations. Cough. The White House and President Barack Obama. The State Department, the House and Senate floors, and, naturally, Nancy Pelosi. (I don’t have the time tonight to crunch the numbers from the first 25 followers that fit the profile, but Nancy seems to be the most common co-followed Twitter feed with Newt.) And they are huge fans of Gabrielle Giffords.
Of fellow Republicans, Rick Santorum shows up over and over again. Herman Cain pops up frequently. Jon Huntsman shows up, Speaker Boehner too, John McCain. But there is NEVER a Bachmann or a Palin, nor a Romney. Hopeless candidates abound, favorites are invisible. Never a Paul or a Rubio. The Tea Party doesn’t exist in the minds or the worlds of these ‘followers.’ Among blogs, the Huffington Post shows up, and that’s pretty much it. Fox anything is well represented, as is NASCAR. Amazing how much of the establishment Newt’s fans embrace, and how little of activist Conservative politics they indulge. Somehow, he lucked out in dodging the people he competes with and the things he considers beneath him. It’s as if he were whispering in his fans’ ears while they composed lists of Twits to follow.
And then this: is this telling? One of the big political personalities that gets co-followed very frequently — probably half the time — amongst these shy, faceless Republican Twitter fans is . . Vivek Kundra. That’s right. Vivek. Born in New Delhi, emigrated to America, earned a Master’s degree in Information Technology. He’s America’s first Chief Information Officer, working under President Obama. Oh, him. What right-wing political junkie wouldn’t tap the Twitter feed of the king I.T geek in Obama’s office? He delivers a spine-tingling Tweet about once a month. Makes you wonder if Gingrich hired an Indian firm to generate a pile of Twitter followers for his loser self, and the techs had a little fun at his expense.