Did Republican Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) have an epiphany that led him to apologize on Twitter less than two hours after he passed on two opportunities to do so on Fox News, or was he playing two media platforms to avoid who saw which message he was conveying?
On Wednesday night, Collins was convinced that Democrats were terrorist sympathizers, telling Lou Dobbs of Fox Business that they “are in love with terrorists” and that they “mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families.” He refused to apologize as recently as Friday morning when he appeared on Fox News. But just a couple hours after his TV appearance, Collins issued an apology on Twitter.
— Peter (@Petervideo23) January 9, 2020
Collins was immediately scorched after making the initial comments about Democrats loving terrorists. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara blasted Collins on Twitter, calling him an “un-American ignorant asshole” while offering up financial support for whoever might challenge the congressman for reelection.
Filmmaker Judd Apatow, who has a strong political presence on Twitter, also called for the congressman’s ouster come election time, quote tweeting the video of Collins’ comments with the caption in all caps, “REGISTER TO VOTE DOUG COLLINS OUT.”
But the strongest response may have come from the Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who took to Twitter on Thursday rebuking Collins while writing about her personal experiences fighting against terrorists. “I left literal parts of my body in Iraq, where I was fighting terrorists. Donald Trump spent months attacking an ACTUAL Gold Star Family. Rep. Doug Collins should be ashamed of himself for perpetuating this offensive lie,” Duckworth wrote.
On Friday morning, Collins seemed defiant and refused to back down or apologize while on Fox News, even when host Bill Hemmer quoted Collins’ harsh language back to him and asked why he said it. Collins expressed “frustration” while claiming Democrats don’t use the correct terminology when speaking about Soleimani. Hemmer interrupted Collins’ excuse-making and repeated Collins’ line from Wednesday, saying, “Here are your words: ‘They are in love with terrorists.’ Do you honestly believe that?”
Collins showed no sign of being apologetic and said Democrats have brought this kind of verbal attack onto themselves: “I think their actions are betraying them at this point.”
— Peter (@Petervideo23) January 10, 2020
But less than two hours after the Fox News interview, Collins took to Twitter and apologized for what he said on Wednesday. “Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week,” he wrote.
Let me be clear: I do not believe Democrats are in love with terrorists, and I apologize for what I said earlier this week. (1/5)
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) January 10, 2020
Collins’ said all the right things in his apology on Twitter. After giving some reasons for his harsh statements, he added, “but that does not excuse my response on Wednesday evening.”
But calculation as to where he decided to give the apology cannot be discounted here. Collins chose Twitter, where the original backlash was harsh. And he posted the apology almost immediately after he passed on the opportunity to apologize, twice, on Fox News.
Not only do Twitter users skew younger than Fox’s audience, they also are more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans. Bottom line: If Collins was truly sorry, why didn’t he say so when pressed on Fox News about it?