Twitter: Trump’s cyberbully pulpit
Donald Trump is about to become the most powerful person in the world, and “needs to stop attacking ordinary Americans,” said David French in NationalReview.com. When union leader Chuck Jones of the Indiana Carrier plant last week called Trump a liar for exaggerating the number of jobs saved in his deal to limit the company’s move to Mexico, the vengeful presidentelect blasted Jones on Twitter for doing “a terrible job representing workers.” As is often the case, Trump fanatics then immediately piled on. Within half an hour of Trump’s tweetstorm, Jones’ phone was ringing off the hook, with threats like “We’re coming for you” and warnings to keep an eye on his kids. Trump’s tweets are “pathetic,” and he “needs to grow up and take criticism like a man.”
Actually, Trump’s Twitter battles “are a brilliant strategy,” said David Danford in TheFederalist.com. He has “revolutionized presidential communications,” controlling the debate while “playing the opposing side like a fiddle.” Trump orchestrates news cycles, stokes media hysteria with seemingly impulsive tweets, and when things calm down, “like clockwork, every 24–48 hours” he unleashes another volley. He often goads critics into condescension toward his supporters. Elites miss the point that many of Trump’s ideas—about immigration, voter fraud, trade deals—“are shared by millions, if not most Americans.” Deploying Twitter as FDR did his fireside chats, Trump connects to them in a direct, visceral way.
FDR never incited mob violence, said Michael Cohen in The Boston Globe. With his bully pulpit, this “petulant, thin-skinned, and vindictive man-child” has threatened retribution against anyone who stands up to him. Sooner or later, “Trump’s unhinged behavior” will lead to someone getting seriously hurt. Nothing will stop Trump from using Twitter as a weapon, said Michael D’Antonio in the New York Daily News. He has said “My life is war,” and believes the only winning strategy is “massive and total retaliation,” whether it’s against Boeing for questioning his trade policies or against the 18-year-old woman who challenged Trump’s stance on women’s issues at a forum last year. After Trump tweet-shamed her as “arrogant,” she “was subjected to a torrent of threats” of violence and rape. By “painting a rhetorical target” on individual citizens’ backs, he’s making it clear that in the Trump presidency, dissent will be punished. Freedom of speech will not exist “if people are afraid to exercise it.”