What You Need to Know About the Trump Pal Twitter Banned

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Roger Stone's Twitter account has been replaced by this notice.
Roger Stone's Twitter account has been replaced by this notice. Credit: Twitter/Illustration by Ad Age

What's this all about?

Longtime friend of Donald Trump and former adviser to candidate Trump was watching CNN on Friday night and was not happy. He took to Twitter to blast CNN and its commentators and anchors—and particularly "CNN Tonight" host Don Lemon, who was covering CNN's scoop that special counsel Robert Mueller had filed criminal charges as a part of his probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Apparently, a number of people noticed what @RogerJStoneJr was up to and notified Twitter.

OK, I just checked—@RogerJStoneJr just shows an "Account suspended" notice now, so I can't see the mean tweets. What exactly did he say?

Naturally, plenty of people screengrabbed Stone's meltdown and various news organizations cited the offending tweets. The New York Times was perhaps the most precious about it, sparingly quoting from them:

Mr. Stone's posts were littered with expletives. He said Don Lemon ... "must be confronted, humiliated, mocked and punished," adding that he was a "buffoon." He said Bill Kristol, a conservative pundit and a former columnist for The New York Times, was "packing on the pounds," and used the hashtag #porky. He used an expletive to describe the political pundit Ana Navarro and wrote that Jake Tapper, who hosts "The Lead" on CNN, "must be held accountable for his lies and very severely punished."

CNN political commentator Keitth Boykin was less delicate about calling out Stone; he stuck screengrabs of some of the worst of Stone's tweets in one place:

Oh dear. Stone really lost his shit. So, what did Twitter say about banning him?

Nothing officially, because Twitter says it doesn't comment about the status of individual accounts. But just below the "Account suspended" notice where Stone's Twitter feed used to be, there's a line that reads, "Learn more about why Twitter suspends accounts, or return to your timeline." One particular passage in the linked page, titled "About suspended accounts," is obviously relevant:

Abusive Tweets or behavior: We may suspend an account if it has been reported to us as violating our Rules surrounding abuse. When an account engages in abusive behavior, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts, we may suspend it temporarily or, in some cases, permanently.

Stone supporters have been citing other high-profile angry tweets that didn't result in suspensions, such as this one that Keith Olbermann directed at Joe Arpaio, the (criminally convicted) former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, after President Trump pardoned him in August:

But strong, angry language is obviously OK on Twitter; what likely pushed Twitter over the edge was Stone's calls to action: saying that Don Lemon must be "confronted, humiliated, mocked and punished" and Jake Tapper "very severely punished."

In July, The New York Times reported that CNN has had to increase security measures at its offices in the wake of President Trump's relentless attacks on the network. A Trump ally urging unspecified "punishment" against CNN's anchors doesn't help matters.

So is this ban temporary or permanent?

Unclear. Stone posted a garbled note on his Facebook page on Saturday addressing just that:

After twitter found that a tweet of mine II was informed that I was suspended for three hours and 22 minutes. That suspension and did some time ago yet my Twitter feed is still not functional. Several media outlets are reporting that I have been permanently banned but Twitter has not informed me that that is the case- yet they seem to be telling reporters I am permanently banned

Other than being a Friend of Trump, who is this guy anyway?

Stone describes himself on Facebook as: "Raconteur, bon vivant, boulevardier, Libertarian conservative, New York Times Bestselling Author."

In an April Business Insider post headlined "Meet Roger Stone: One of Donald Trump's most loyal supporters who is now being investigated by FBI," Eliza Relman writes,

It took nearly 20 years for Roger Stone to realize his dream. Since the 1980s, the self-described "dirty trickster" who's been in and around Republican politics for half a century, had made it something of a mission to make Donald Trump president. Despite parting ways with the Trump campaign in August 2015—Trump says he fired Stone for hogging the media spotlight; Stone says he quit because Trump attacked Megyn Kelly—Stone has remained one of Trump's most loyal true believers.

Read on for details on why the FBI is interested in him.

So what happens now?

In a post headlined "Roger Stone Says He Will Bring an 'Antitrust Case' Against Twitter," New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi writes,

He wouldn't disclose when he plans to sue, saying only that it'll be "when I am ready to." But he added, "I am advised I have a very strong legal case. Twitter wants to avoid being regulated like a utility. No one has been willing to file the antitrust case. I am." (While most antitrust cases are brought by the government, private parties can bring them too, under certain circumstances. Whether Stone would have the standing to do so is a separate question, of course.)

Got it. Hey, back up to the last of Stone's tweets that Keith Boykin screengrabbed. What's a "covksucker"?

Someone who orally pleasures a covfefe.

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