Few presidents have been as widely spoken about as 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, particularly when it comes to his use of Twitter.
President Barack Obama made history when he capitalized on emergent social media platforms and became the first president to have a Twitter account. To many, Obama’s use of twitter symbolized a potential shift in how politics and presidencies may be carried out in future, using newer technologies.
Though while the 44th president amassed a large following, Obama’s twitter ended up being used primarily by campaign staff and less often by the president himself during his presidency.
By comparison, Donald Trump has been magnitudes more vocal and vociferous than his predecessor during his presidency, with his tweets often becoming the centrepiece for entire news days.
Even apparent typos such as when Trump tweeted the still unknown word “Covfefe,” a moment which was talked about among all the late-night hosts, covered by all major media players, and retweeted over 100,000 times.
Never before has there been such a constant stream of insight into the mind of the Commander in Chief of the United States of America, though is this a good thing?
Some would argue no, Trump’s Twitter isn’t a good thing. In this camp is Senator and Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who asked Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey to “do something” about Trump's Twitter, shortly after tweeting that the 45th President should be banned from the platform.
Trump's tweets have also been labeled as “racist,” “abusive” and even “dangerous” by critics.
And yet, despite the endless criticisms and calls for his account to be removed, Trump’s use of the platform hasn’t tapered. He constantly uses the platform to remark on current events, such as the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
So why does he do it?
Well, there’s a method to the madness…
Trump's dependency upon Twitter reveals that there are few places of refuge for the current President when it comes to the media. While this is particularly the case with Donald Trump, it has often been somewhat true of Republicans in general.
This left-leaning nature of mainstream media was described by the late Andrew Breitbart as the “Democrat Media Complex.”
This phenomenon was highlighted in a 2017 Pew Poll which revealed that only 5% of articles covering President Trump were positive, compared to 42 percent for Obama.
Similarly, every late-night host such as Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Steven Colbert, and Seth Meyer have all come out as vocal critics of the current president, frequently lambasting him in their opening monologues.
Understandably, if these are the only outlets through which President Trump can share his opinion, they undoubtedly won’t shine too favorably on him.
We saw this media slant in full force, following the aftermath of the Charlottesville protests over the removal of the statue of Confederate Soldier Robert E. Lee.
Among protesters were a group of white supremacists, heard chanting “Jews will not replace us,” and a car was also driven into the event, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
Following the protests, Trump delivered a press conference in which he stated that there were “very fine people on both sides.”
This caused a media frenzy, with outlets stating that Trump had endorsed white supremacists and white nationalists, suggesting that the President had called the neo-nazis and the man that had killed Heather Heyer, “very fine people.”
However, while this one sentence was (and still is) repeated as one of the most egregious and damning things trump has done, and a blatant example of his own racism and support of white supremacy, this is a patently false interpretation of events.
Only a few moments after his remark of very fine people, aimed at those who were peacefully arguing for or against the removal of a historical statue, Trump goes on to specifically disavow white supremacists and neo-nazis.
“I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”
And while the term “fake news” has become somewhat of a meme in and of itself, it's hard to deny that the media is largely anti-Trump — often to the distortion of the truth.
Another (albeit more trivial) example was recently on The View when the hosts showed a montage of Donald Trump’s previous appearances on the talkshow, among which Whoopi Goldberg stated she “loved” Donald Trump and Joy Behar called him and “upstanding citizen.”
Donald Trump was a friend to the media until he put on the red tie and stood in opposition to the Democrats.
For this reason, Trump’s use of Twitter is both tactical and necessary, in that he gets to control exactly how he is portrayed at any time of the day, a phenomenon he has likened to “owning his own newspaper.”
Whether you’re a supporter of Trump or not, citizens are empowered when they can make informed decisions, based on comments straight from the horse's mouth rather than through a game of Chinese whispers. And, chances are, whether you’re a supporter of Trump or not, you follow him on Twitter.
The media is schismatic and plays into our desire for tribal warfare. You’re either left or right, or pro-this or anti-that. Siloing ourselves into echo chambers that reinforce our political worldview only deepens the chasm between the left and the right, and we will all be worse off for it.
This is why Trump needs Twitter. Fox News will say Trump’s flawless, and CNN, Vox, MNSBC, and others on the mainstream left will ignore his triumphs in the hopes of giving the 2020 presidency to a Democrat. The current impeachment inquiry is no different.
Instead of calling for the President’s social media to be revoked, we should be encouraging all political leaders to be more vocal and transparent on media platforms, so we can cut out the media middlemen and decide for ourselves what our opinions on current leaders are.