It’s been a rough few days for Kevin McCarthy.
He had already been exposed as a liar for denying a New York Times report that he told Republican members he was going to recommend that Donald Trump resign in the wake of the January 6 insurrection. The Times produced the audio – and McCarthy was left with this gibberish response.
Which is bad!
But on Tuesday night, the Times published more of McCarthy’s conversations with fellow Republican leaders from January 10, 2021 – audio in which he suggests that the actions of some of his members may be fomenting violence and wonders whether their social media feeds could be taken away.
“Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?” wondered McCarthy.
That sentiment is a big problem for McCarthy – and even a bigger one than openly speculating about Trump resigning.
Here’s why: Members of Congress are, like all of the rest of us, inherently selfish. They care most about what affects them directly – and less about things that are more general in nature.
So while McCarthy suggesting that he was going to tell Trump to resign – and openly lying about having done so – isn’t a great look for the House minority leader, it doesn’t directly impact the daily lives of members of his conference.
But calling for some of the most Trump-y members of Congress to have their social media accounts suspended? Well, that impacts each of those members directly. And that makes it matter.
It’s made worse by the fact that Trump allies have been arguing for years that Big Tech is biased against them and working to silence their voices. Now you have the leader of the Republican Party in the House speculating that his own members should have their Twitter accounts taken away.
Fox host Tucker Carlson, who is among the most influential voices in the GOP, bashed McCarthy Tuesday night for his comments.
“Unless conservatives get their acts together right away, Kevin McCarthy or one of his highly liberal allies like Elise Stefanik is very likely to be speaker of the House in January,” said Carlson. “That will mean we will have a Republican Congress led by a puppet of the Democratic Party.”
Now, CNN reported that McCarthy received a standing ovation for his defense of his recent comments at a House Republican conference meeting Wednesday morning.
“McCarthy defended the remarks as saying they needed to discuss every scenario — and the tapes only included a portion of his comments and don’t have the full context. He also said that he doesn’t talk about GOP members publicly and only does in private — and if there are any problems, they should discuss the matter privately, according to the sources.”
(Sidebar: Not sure how needing to discuss every scenario means that you propose certain members have their Twitter accounts taken away, but I digress…)
Maybe McCarthy’s support holds strong. But we already know that the likes of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have publicly expressed doubts on whether McCarthy should be speaker if Republicans win the House majority in this year’s midterm elections.
And McCarthy has already seen his hopes of becoming speaker done in by a conservative rebellion back in 2015.
Is this deja vu all over again? Amazingly, that may well be up to Carlson. If he lets the McCarthy audio drop and moves on, then McCarthy likely survives. But if Carlson stays on the story – and pressures Trump-aligned members of Congress to speak out against McCarthy, then the California Republican could have a much larger issue on his hands.