There have been many articles written about Twitter’s role in the election of Donald Trump—it’s difficult to ignore its influence. Trump used—and uses—Twitter to subvert the traditional media filters and speak directly to the public. He’s a brilliant propagandist, and Twitter is, by far, his most effective tool in pushing a fact-free narrative. His general usage, while often unhinged, served to ingratiate him further with disenchanted voters during the primary and general elections, but his erratic and unprofessional manner wore out it’s welcome rather quickly. A Wall Street Journal/ NBC Poll published on January, 18th showed that 69% of Americans disapproved of Trump’s twitter usage while only 9% strongly supported his usage.
Many seemed to believe that Trump would change and leave his petty Twitter habit behind him when he assumed office. He hasn’t—and things have not been good. Campaigns are turbulent maelstroms, finely tuned chaos factories that churn out truths, lies, half-truths, half-lies, promises, generalities and platitudes at at a stunning rate. Facts become muddled by the spectacle and the unceasing surge of information and disinformation.
But the din of the campaign has now faded—he can’t point to Hillary Clinton anymore (although he certainly still tries). It’s now much harder for Trump to wash away brazen lies and petulance; there is no one else to blame or deflect on to. The campaign is over, now is the time to govern; now is the time to act like a grown up. But if you thought Donald Trump would act ever act like a grown up, or exercise adult-level impulse control, you certainly weren’t paying much attention over the last 30 years. Plus, running a campaign and running the federal government are drastically different enterprises that warrant drastically different skill sets. Trump is the least wonky person in D.C., he’s a campaigner—why do you think he’s still throwing rallies? He’s highly-skilled at getting attention, and Twitter gets him attention.
While it’s possible that Trump’s Twitter usage hasn’t eroded his core base just yet, things have not been moving in the right direction—the latest Gallup Poll (Monday) showed an abysmal 37% approval rating. If we go through the first few months of the Trump presidency, many of the issues dominating the news were centered around his tweets.
It started with inauguration size:
This gave way to his unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud:
Then he bashed Mexico:
Then he bashed Arnold Schwarzenegger:
Then he bashed Iran:
Then a U.S. federal judge:
Then he said (and he wasn't kidding) that all any negative polls are fake:
Then he called out Nordstrom on behalf of his daughter:
Then there was—of course—the "EASY D" tweet:
The Blumenthal/Gorsuch lie:
Then came a cadre of tweets about John McCain, "fake news" outlets, leakers, Hillary Clinton, Russia, Chicago, and the democrats to name only a few. But all of it was mere child's play when compared to his tweet storm on March, 4th when he accused President Obama of the Watergate/McCarthyesque "tapping" of the phones at Trump tower:
It's also worth noting that 1 hr and 17 minutes after tweeting that the previous president had "tapped" his phones, he tweeted this:
Trump can’t let go of Twitter; he can’t reign in his adolescent need to wildly spew his unfiltered thoughts on to the world around him—and it’s finally starting to hurt him. The lies are building up and not going away. Whatever happened to the voter fraud investigation? Crickets now. And his “so-called judge” comment was brought up in the Gorsuch confirmation hearings yesterday.
Polls show that most of the (electoral college-aided) demographic majority that pushed Trump to victory wanted, for lack of a better term, a freak in the sheets (campaign), but a man in the streets (white house). But they were unaware that this particular brand of freak does not differentiate based on locale.
For some reason, many Americans thought that his pomposity and limitless verve would fade away on the day he placed his hand on the Lincoln Bible. In many ways, it’s been far worse. The lies have continued entirely unabated by facts or criticism from his own party, and he is just as allergic to walking back statements or apologizing as ever before.
Today, the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal of all places destroyed the president for his “endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.” They state that the president flat out refuses to see the truth when it comes to his “wire tapping” charge, claiming “the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle[.]” They assert that Trump is “his own political enemy[,]” and they’re absolutely right. His credibility, which was never high, is plummeting further with each tweet he lets loose on the digisphere. The angry pitter-patter of his thumbs has caused issue after issue for the administration with little to nopayofff on the other end. His tweets claiming that people love the new health insurance bill aren’t changing the minds of anyone who reads anything outside of his tweets; his “fake news” claims have grown tired and predictable and his denouncements of the Russia investigation are worthless if outright collusion is discovered. His hardcore base still loves it I’m sure, but that’s a rather small well to pull from—it’s not going to move the needle much. He can only run from reality for so long—truth still exists.
UPDATE: 3/22/17 9:54pm: The following Quinnipiac pole was released this afternoon:
60% of Americans polled don’t think the president is honest, and 66% don’t think he is level-headed; those are significant numbers.
And the crazy thing is, the bar was set so astonishingly low, that he could’ve assumed office and been fairly disastrous and still garnered significant acclaim from the right. And when you think about all the garbage his administration could’ve avoided if he would’ve only stopped tweeting, it’s rather insane that he’s continued the practice—it’s embarrassing.
There are no signs that he’ll stop tweeting; there are no signs he’ll stop lying, and there are no signs that he will do anything to suppress the erosion of public trust.
Previously published on The Overgrown.