Twitter: since it was launched in 2006, it has become the third most popular social media site, with an estimated 320 million monthly users. Over 550 million people have sent a tweet, including 83% of world leaders.
One of those world leaders is Donald Trump. Prior to becoming President, he used a personal account @realDonaldTrump. He now also uses the account name @POTUS. Approximately 27 million people follow him.
While Trump has used his account since becoming President to make announcements, he has also used it to criticize and condemn many people, including the media and his political opponents. Is this the way a President should behave? Or is he entitled to say/tweet anything he wants, regardless of his office?
To answer that question, it’s important to actually look at some of his tweets since he was sworn in as President on January 20, 2017. (Note – all tweets are copied exactly as they appear in his Twitter account, including spelling, grammar and capitalization.)
If he didn’t originally coin it, Trump has certainly repeated the phrase “Fake News” enough times to take credit for it. During his first news conference as President-Elect, he used the term to describe the reporting from various news agencies. Since then, he has been calling out reporters and media outlets several times a week for being fake news, particularly targeting CNN and the New York Times. Politicians must accept that working with the media is part of the job. Displaying such a public disrespect for the media, whose job it is to cover the President, is not a professional or appropriate way for any politician to act. Trump’s credibility has suffered by his online disparagements.
Here are a few examples:
“Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election.” (February 6)
“Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media.The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.” (February 18)
“Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!” (February 26)
“Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!” (March 15)
Many of the tweets Trump has sent have been proven to be false or inaccurate. (See more on this topic in my previous post on Truth or Alternative Facts.) In no case has he ever removed the tweet, corrected it or clarified his meaning. He seems to believe that he can say – and post – anything he wants, without regard for truth, evidence or accuracy. What message is he sending when he tweets statements that he knows to be untruthful? Claims that he knows can be fact-checked and corrected? Accusations that have never been proven? And the irony is that this is the man who spent most of the election campaign accusing his opponent of being a liar.
“will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and…. even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” (January 25)
“Look forward to seeing final results of VoteStand. Gregg Phillips and crew say at least 3,000,000 votes were illegal. We must do better!” (January 27)
“Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage,.. …protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer. Secretary Kelly said that all is going well with very few problems. MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!” (January 30)
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” (March 4)
“122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision” (March 7)
While you don’t have to like everyone, there is an expectation that a world leader will at least be considerate of his/her counterparts in other countries. Trade, defense, immigration and tourism are major economic industries for the U.S. They rely on many other countries around the world for their financial sustainability. And beyond the political, respect is (or should be) an expectation among world leaders.
“Mexico has taken advantage of the U.S. for long enough. Massive trade deficits & little help on the very weak border must change, NOW!” (January 27)
“Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!” (January 29)
“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” (February 2)
“Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how “kind” President Obama was to them. Not me!” (February 3)
“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes….. …vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” (March 18)
Everyone has opponents, especially politicians. But once the election is over, it is crucial for a President to be able to work with members of the opposing party. In a bi-partisan system, it is the only way to get legislation passed, initiatives implemented and appointments confirmed. At least, that’s the way it is supposed to work.
“The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain & Lindsey Graham is wrong – they are sadly weak on immigration. The two… …Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.” (January 29)
“Nancy Pelosi and Fake Tears Chuck Schumer held a rally at the steps of The Supreme Court and mic did not work (a mess)-just like Dem party!” (January 31)
“Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!” (February 5)
“SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” (February 9)
“The Democrats made up and pushed the Russian story as an excuse for running a terrible campaign. Big advantage in Electoral College & lost!” (March 20)
What’s Really Happening in the White House?
While monitoring Trump’s Twitter account can be very frustrating, it is even more concerning to follow others who are allegedly on his staff and reporting what really happens in the White House. The Twitter account @RoguePOTUSStaff claims to be “The unofficial resistance team inside the White House. We pull back the curtain to expose the real workings inside this disastrous, frightening Administration.” Having someone on the inside to correct the record and provide context can offer some clarity, but also shows how little Americans know about about what is really happening behind the scenes.
“Everyone in the room knew POTUS was lying about 5 million illegals voting, but nobody dared to point it out. What have we done?” (January 26)
“POTUS fuming after judge order last night. Suggested having agents to “do it anyway” & ignore order. Preibus said to be at wits end.” (January 29)
“Just so we’re clear, it’s not Obama behind the leaks. Approx 50% of staffers are actively participating one way or another. #Iamtheleak” (February 28)
“POTUS wants Congress to be too busy looking for non-existent wiretap evidence that they can’t investigate Russiagate.” (March 6)
“Spicer: “I wish he’d have an affair. That’d be better than defending the stupid s*** he says in Twitter.” (March 8)
“The media has been beaten into submission. They are too afraid to lose access again, so they aren’t pressing when they know it would hurt.” (March 9)
“POTUS licking his wounds as it sinks in his wiretap claim went too far. Trying to hide it but he’s moping, embarrassed.” (March 17)
The President of the United States should be a role model. Regardless of politics, people should be able to look at their elected representatives and see someone who exemplifies trust, respect, acceptance and tolerance. Instead, Americans have watched a President use his social media feed to belittle, scare monger, lie, berate, denigrate, boast and ridicule. It has been a shocking education in how not to act as a President.