Trump tweets
May 31, 2020

With protests against police brutality happening in all corners of the U.S., President Trump tweeted two words on Sunday night: "FAKE NEWS!"

He did not elaborate. The tweet was sent as demonstrations continued for a sixth day, triggered by the death last week of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The incident was recorded, and Floyd is heard saying, "I can't breathe."

Floyd's death comes as the country tries to come to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 104,000 Americans and cost tens of millions of jobs. The first protest over Floyd's death was in Minneapolis, but the movement quickly spread nationwide. While most demonstrations have been peaceful, fires broke out in Los Angeles and New York on Saturday night as tensions flared between police officers and protesters. Over the weekend, The Washington Post estimates, more than 2,500 people were arrested in two dozen cities.

Curfews are in place in Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, and other major cities, and the National Guard has been activated in 15 states and Washington, D.C. Thousands of protesters gathered at Lafayette Square across from the White House on Sunday night after Trump sent his tweet, and a small building inside the park was set on fire. At that point, a few minutes before D.C.'s 11 p.m. curfew was about to go into effect, riot police moved in to push the protesters out.

Earlier in the day, Trump tried to pin the unrest on the media, accusing journalists of being "truly bad people with a sick agenda." Catherine Garcia

May 31, 2020

President Trump declared via Twitter on Sunday that he will designate anti-fascism activists as terrorists.

Under the law, Trump does not have the authority to do so, Mary McCord, a former head of the Department of Justice's National Security Division, told The New York Times. "If such a statute were passed, it would face serious First Amendment challenges," she said, adding that currently, the only terrorist authority is for foreign organizations.

Protests continued across the United States on Sunday against police brutality, and in the evening, Trump simply tweeted, "LAW & ORDER!" This is a turn from earlier this month, when Trump supported protesters in Michigan, including many who were armed, that decried restrictions placed on businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien have all painted left-wing anti-fascist protesters — also known as antifa — as agitators, with O'Brien saying on Sunday's This Week that "it's the violent antifa radical militants that are coming out under cover of night, traveling across state lines, using military-style tactics to burn down our cities."

In response, host George Stephanopoulos told O'Brien, "The Department of Homeland Security, which reports to you, has put out intelligence notes over the weekend warning that domestic terrorists from the far-right and the far-left, both, are looking to exploit this. It's not just antifa and the left, they're saying they're worried about the far right as well." Catherine Garcia

May 22, 2020

President Trump has been attacking Fox News on Twitter in recent weeks, and on Thursday evening he gave one surprisingly candid clue as to the source of his frustrations. "Many will disagree, but Fox News is doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd," he tweeted. "Net Result = BAD!" He called some personalities "garbage," including hydroxychloroquine skeptic Niel [sic] Cavuto, two black commentators, "and many others."

Liberals may view Fox News as "Trump TV," Gabriel Sherman reported at Vanity Fair earlier this month. "But that is not the way Donald Trump himself sees it. Trump loves that many Fox hosts are his loudest cheerleaders — but any deviation from Trumpian orthodoxy he views as betrayal," and his "frustration with Fox has only intensified during the coronavirus pandemic" as network executives "sidelined the network's most flagrant coronavirus deniers."

"At the end of day, Trump thinks he owns Fox," a Republican who discussed the network with Trump told Vanity Fair. "He thinks he made them."

But The Wall Street Journal reported in January that an investment firm owned by a Trump ally, Republican National Committee co-chairman Thomas Hicks Jr., was in talks to buy One America News Network (OANN), the even friendlier alternative network Trump has been elevating for months. Hicks is close with Donald Trump Jr., and the negotiations are ongoing. "Tommy Hicks and Don Jr. have been looking to buy a station for Trump TV," one source briefed on the talks told Sherman. "This is all about building a Fox competitor. Trump is really aiming to take down Fox." OANN owner Robert Herring Sr. told Times of San Diego that "so far we know nothing about Trump Jr. buying our company," and "we are not anxious to sell." Peter Weber

May 19, 2020

President Trump posted an unusually large number of all-caps tweets on Monday, from "REOPEN OUR COUNTRY!" and "LOSER!" (a reference to Sen. Mitt Romney [R-Utah]) to "OIL (ENERGY) IS BACK!!!!" But he spent Monday evening tweeting Fox News clips and retweeting attacks on the network and one of its hosts, Neil Cavuto. Every once in a while, Cavuto is prone to give a more-in-sorrow-than-anger lecture to Trump about truth and the problems with his falsehoods. But what irked Trump on Monday was Cavuto warning people not to follow Trump's lead on taking hydroxychloroquine.

Trump even retweeted an anti-Trump account whose point he appears to have missed.

One Trump retweet referred to Cavuto as "an a--hole," another said it's "hard to believe Cavuto is this foolish & gullible," while another accused the Fox News host of "sheer stupidity." Trump himself finally weighed in on a tweet asking Laura Ingraham what the problem is with her "irresponsible colleague" Cavuto. "Fox News is no longer the same," Trump lamented. "We miss the great Roger Ailes. You have more anti-Trump people, by far, than ever before. Looking for a new outlet!"

Ailes resigned in disgrace in 2016 from the network he created, amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations and settlements. He died in 2017. Peter Weber

April 27, 2020

Sarcasm is dead, but irony is still alive and kicking.

President Trump started an active day of tweeting Sunday by wishing first lady Melania Trump a happy 50th birthday, and he ended it by agreeing with himself.

In between, Trump retweeted a bunch of attacks on various Democrats (plus Karen Pence's birthday wishes for his wife), accurately noted he did not call the coronavirus itself a "hoax," insisted he isn't firing Health Secretary Alex Azar, misspelled hamburger in a tweet about his work schedule, said he wants a more pro-Trump alternative to Fox News, and went on a rant about reporters and their "Noble Prizes." He deleted the "hamberger" tweet and the Noble Prize thread.

Some observers assumed Trump had mixed up the Nobel Prize — which does not have a journalism category — and the Pulitzer Prize, and others predicted he would claim he was just being sarcastic, as he had after speculating about injecting disinfectant and "powerful" light into human bodies to kill a virus. Both groups were probably right.

Trump, apparently irked by a report on his TV-heavy schedule, actually left the White House several times in March — rallies in three states, Mar-a-Lago, FEMA headquarters — though maybe it felt like "many months."

On Saturday, Trump blamed the media for ruining his nightly coronavirus briefings. In reality, Trump "was convinced to pause the daily coronavirus briefings because advisers concluded his performances were damaging," The Washington Post's Philip Rucker tweeted. "But instead of adjusting his pandemic messaging, he's still praising himself, attacking reporters, and airing grievances — just all on Twitter." Peter Weber

April 13, 2020

President Trump approved a federal disaster declaration for Wyoming on Saturday in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Now, for the first time in U.S. history, all 50 states are under a federal disaster declaration. In a tweet Sunday evening, Trump portrayed the historic 50-state disaster as a sign of progress against the outbreak.

Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam have also had disaster declarations approved. Disaster declarations open the door to federal funds and allow governors to sidestep certain regulations, CNN reports. As of Monday morning, the U.S. has a confirmed 557,000 COVID-19 cases and 22,109 official coronavirus deaths, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there are 1.86 million reported cases and 115,000 deaths. Peter Weber

April 13, 2020

President Trump is clearly unhappy with a New York Times report published Saturday that details several instances in which his "inability or unwillingness to absorb warnings coming at him" from top officials about the COVID-19 coronavirus, starting in mid-January, led to his administration "squandering vital time as the coronavirus spread silently across the country."

For example, top U.S. health officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar — then in charge of the White House coronavirus task force — and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci were concerned enough about the virus by mid-February to schedule a Feb. 26 meeting to convince Trump to enact strict mitigation strategies like targeted "quarantine and isolation measures," the Times reports. But after another top U.S. health official issued a bleak warning about the outbreak on Feb. 25, the meeting was canceled, "replaced by a news conference in which the president announced that the White House response would be put under the command of Vice President Mike Pence." Trump issued social distancing guidelines March 16.

Trump issued several tweets Sunday criticizing the article, the Times, and the news media in general. The Times story is "fake, just like the 'paper' itself," he tweeted Sunday night. "I was criticized for moving too fast when I issued the China Ban, long before most others wanted to do so," and Azar "told me nothing until later." He retweeted a former GOP candidate calling for firing Fauci, adding that he "banned China long before people spoke up." (Trump issued his China travel restrictions Feb. 2 with the backing of Azar and Fauci but not his economic team, the Times reports, and "40,000 Americans and other authorized travelers have still come into the country from China since that order.")

Trump even mocked Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace after he mentioned the Times article on his show, asking: "What the hell is happening to Fox News?"

Meanwhile, Fox News host Sean Hannity went after one of the six Times reporters credited with writing the article. You can read the article or five takeaways at The New York Times. Peter Weber

March 23, 2020

President Trump is worried about the media, he tweeted late Sunday night, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional leaders were furiously working to iron out differences in a massive coronavirus stimulus/bailout package. "I watch and listen to the Fake News, CNN, MSDNC, ABC, NBC, CBS, some of FOX (desperately & foolishly pleading to be politically correct), the @nytimes, & the @washingtonpost, and all I see is hatred of me at any cost," he tweeted. "Don't they understand that they are destroying themselves?"

Republican pollster Frank Luntz pointed out that Trump, at least in the past, denied watching much TV and said he "seldom, if ever" watched CNN or MSNBC.

Maybe Trump has broadened his buffet of news sources as president, or at least his "executive time" to watch and read the news. But sleep is good, too, especially when there's a dangerous new virus on the loose. Peter Weber

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