The Shutdown Seen Through Politwoops


Sunlight Foundation's Politwoops twoopsters prepare for the government shutdown.As the government shutdown continues to consume the daily life of Congress, members sharing their thoughts on Twitter seem eager to frame events through the lens of the shutdown. The chaotic scene in Washington involving a car chase that ended in gunfire near the Capitol spurred many reactions and updates from members of Congress. Politwoops saw an increased volume of deletions, as is typically the case with breaking news and unconfirmed developments. Some notable deletions from politicians or their staff that run the accounts archived thanks to Politwoops include Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex, who removed a tweet as the reports of shots unfolded that said “Harry Reid has shot down funding for the VA and national parks.” On the other side of the aisle, Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., tweeted out a thank you to Capitol Police, but replaced the original message saved by Politwoops with a version that did not include “& for continuing to do so, even while your pay is suspended.”

The most high profile deletion of the week comes from Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ga., who unleashed a cascade of assumptions and accusations on his Twitter followers immediately following reports of gunfire on Capitol Hill. From his Blackberry he first shared “Gun shots outside the Capitol” and then approximately one minute later tweeted (and later deleted):

Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., deleted tweet archived by Politwoops:

In a statement addressing the deleted tweet, Rep. Griffin said he “tweeted out of emotion, but agree that the timing was not helpful.” The knee-jerk reactions continued for Rep. Griffin, sharing that the “shooter has been arrested” (all shots were fired by the police and the driver was killed, not arrested) and that the event was an “act of terroism [sic]” which the Capitol Police Chief defined as an “isolated incident” and not an act of terror.

In other shutdown-related Politwoops news, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., made headlines with a quote about the GOP’s position telling the Washington Examiner, “We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” He released a statement to attempt some damage control and then quickly tried to scrub the record of the whole thing by removing the press release from his website and associated tweet. Unfortunately for him, Politwoops caught the deletion and has a screenshot of his press release that is now archived for all to see.

Media outlets citing Politwoops this week include the Washington Post, USA Today, Salon and the Arkansas Times. Be sure to keep your eyes on Politwoops for more messaging changes from politicians and welcome to our latest addition, democratic Texas Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis.