Retweet This: It's Time for the Media to Ignore Donald Trump's Twitter Tirades
As a journalist I admire this about President Donald Trump: The man knows how to write tight.
He gets more response from 140 characters than I’ve gotten from the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written in my career.
That said, it’s time that we in the media stop creaming ourselves every time the Commander-in-Tweet puts his itty-bitty little fingers on a digital phone.
It’s not news. It’s a distraction.
These aren’t presidential position papers. These are the ramblings of a man who only five years ago was tweeting about the love affair between the stars of the movie Twilight.
“Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart,” Trump tweeted on Oct. 17, 2012. “She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again — just watch. He can do much better!”
So can journalists.
The most egregious media response to a Trump tweet came after he posted a doctored video of himself beating up CNN at a WWE match.
CNN reacted as if the president had just deleted the First Amendment or ordered Patton's Army to attack Wolf Blitzer.
“It is a sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters," a CNN spokesperson told The Hill without explaining why the network was reporting on itself.
The Sunday morning after the tweet, CNN host Frederica Whitfield went GLOW on Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin.
Zeldin was trying to give thoughtful response, saying he wanted the president “to set the highest possible example for my 10-year-old daughter.” He also praised some of CNN’s journalism.
But Whitfield wanted blood in the ring.
“But today … right now … this tweet … your response to that,” she demanded. “What’s your message to the president?”
This from a journalist was once referred to the Dallas cop shooter as “brave and courageous.”
CNN even sicced its investigative team on the source of the video that Trump tweeted.
The reporters traced it to some basement dweller who goes by the handle of HanAssholeSolo, who referred to Trump as “the God Emperor himself” and frequently posts racist rants.
Geez, there’s a shocker.
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But because HanAssholeSolo apologized, CNN agreed not to out his real name.
Other media reports say the network’s crack K-File squad got the wrong guy, anyway. Who cares?
Come on, people. Trump’s an entertainer. A reality TV star who happens to be running the country. (Hmm … I wonder if I could sell that pilot.)
The CNN tweet seemed like a lame attempt to be funny. Trump’s no more going to bash a CNN reporter's head against the floor of a wrestling arena than equally lame former CNN resident comedian Kathy Griffin is going to lop off the president's head.
A conservative friend gets a chuckle over these media machinations about Trump’s tweets. “This is how he gets his message to his base,” my friend said. “He’s not writing for you guys.”
I can buy that.
Trump’s tweets are for the third of the country who would still support him if he stood “in the middle of Fifth Avenue” and shot somebody. They struggle to digest any information that comes in bites larger than 140 characters.
And sometimes even that is too much for them to swallow.
Case in point: On the Fourth of July, NPR tweeted the Declaration of Independence, one line at a time.
Many Trump supporters started typing furiously in response, creating a mass demonstration of the perils of sleeping through history class.
For example, @NPR tweeted this:
“It is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government … ”
And @JustEsrafel replied:
“So, NPR is calling for revolution. Interesting way to condone the violence while trying to sound ‘patriotic.’ Your implications are clear.”
When @NPR tweeted: "A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
@JohnLemos11 (account deleted) responded: "Propaganda is that all you know how? Try supporting a man who wants to do something about the Injustice in this country."
But let’s not be too hard on these folks. It’s easy to see how you could mistake President Trump for King George.
Besides, @JustEsrafel said he learned a lesson from the Twitterstorm of response to his post.
“If my stupidity spurns us to READ our Declaration of Independence then I don't mind the comments. Worth the embarrassment,” he wrote.
Let’s hope CNN and other media outlets also will learn a lesson and stop salivating over the red social media meat in Trump’s tweets. All journalists need to follow the lead of the New York Times and the Washington Post and produce reporting that will take more than 140 characters to explain away.
In fact, everyone needs to take a chill pill about politics on Twitter and Facebook. Put down your cellphone and read a newspaper or two or three.
Oh, on second thought, that’s a fine idea but not right this moment. First, retweet or share this column. I need the traffic.
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