Of all the complaints about Donald Trump by Democrats and Never Trumpers, his use of Twitter was a special irritant. The establishment was desperate to get Mr. Trump off Twitter not because they were appalled but because they knew it was his singular and powerful connection to the public. It made the difference during the campaign, and his opponents feared it would be his super power as president as well.
It would be one of the rare times they were right about him.
President Trump’s mastery of the micro-blogging site has become a key factor in his success with governance, self-defense against an old system determined to nullify his presidency, and plays an important part in the ‘art of the deal.’ From negotiations with North Korea, promoting the impact of the tax cuts, pushing back on the fictions of the legacy media, to railing against Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “witch hunt,” Mr. Trump reminds the establishment every day of the fact that he is in charge.
“The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media - but remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN! My use of social media is not Presidential - it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!” the president said in a series of tweets on July 1, 2017.
Those who didn’t take him seriously then now only need look at how Americans are viewing the Mueller investigation. The Washington Post reported earlier this month, “A shrinking majority of Americans say Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian election interference and possible links to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign should continue… The Monmouth University poll finds 54 percent of Americans saying the special counsel’s investigation should continue, with support down from 60 percent in March and 62 percent in July. A 43 percent minority says the investigation should end, up six points since March and 10 points since last summer.”
The very thing his opponents complaint about—his style—is exactly what makes him successful.
Some political critics have mocked the president’s comments on the probe as “tirades” about which Mr. Mueller doesn’t care. But that’s not the point. Mr. Trump is speaking to Americans who have been inundated with hostile and 24/7 legacy media coverage.
Never Trumper and New York Times columnist David Brooks is now regretting the nonstop coverage, but only because Mr. Trump has taken control of the narrative. On PBS’ NewsHour he lamented, "Well, he [Trump] has realized that the Mueller investigation is not a bad thing for him, but a good thing for him, that if he can create a narrative that it’s him vs. the swamp, and that all the arms of the U.S. government are really politicized, things controlled by the Democrats or the elites, by whoever, then he can use the soap opera, give it a new plot twist every single day, which is really what he’s been doing all week, a new set of tweets just to get us talking about it. Personally, I’m sick of all the daily stories about it. I think we overplay it, frankly," said Mr. Brooks.
In other words, Mr. Trump has been able to interject the reality of what’s happening. Mr. Brooks can cast that as a ‘soap opera’ if he wants, but it is another scream in the dark by an establishment mourning the death of a national conversation that had been controlled only by them.
In a story during the 2016 campaign about Mr. Trump’s Twitter use, the New York Times reported, “Mike Berland, a political operative who worked on Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and is chief executive of Edelman Berland, calls it the ‘Wall of Trump.’ We’ve never seen this before in politics,’ Mr. Berland said. ‘This is not just a rally that happens once in a while. This is a continuous Trump rally that happens on Twitter at all hours. He fills the Twitter stadium every day.’” File this as one of those rare times when the New York Times gets a fact correct.
One example of the depth of the cultural impact of the president’s Twitter use is provided by the “Roseanne” show on ABC. During the season finale, the Conner family is facing financial ruin due to a flash flood damaging the family home’s foundation, only to be saved by a Trump tweet. “The show’s season finale featured a fictional state-of-emergency declaration from the president that bailed out the financially strapped Conners after a storm hit. ‘The president spelled ‘Illinois’ wrong in his tweet, but it still counts, right?’ Darlene (Sara Gilbert) cracked,” reported Huffington Post.
The very thing his opponents complaint about—his style—is exactly what makes him successful. A Trump tweet is an unfiltered exercise in candor, a packet of information, about what the president of the United States is thinking. His honesty and the immediacy of the communication builds trust.
Reporters and critics have been the darlings of the political establishment for generations in large part because they’ve controlled the national conversation. Courtesy of the perfect storm of Donald Trump and Twitter, those days are over. Sad!