Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 9 News List

How Trump uses Twitter storms to make the political weather

Causing a rupture with a close ally, endorsing a hate group, undermining a Cabinet member — it is all in a morning’s work for the US president’s restless thumbs

By David Smith  /  The Guardian, WASHINGTON

In January the New York Times said: “While that habit generated conversation and consternation when Mr Trump was a candidate, he now serves as commander in chief and his 140-character pronouncements carry the power of an Olympian lightning bolt.”

Trump’s very first tweet, in May 2009, promoted an appearance on a late-night TV show. It was the work of Peter Costanzo, who worked in marketing for the publisher of Trump’s book Think Like a Champion and was thinking of new ways to promote it.

“Facebook was already popular for publishers, but Twitter was new,” Costanzo said. “People didn’t really understand what it was or its potential.”

He spotted that there was an impostor already using Trump’s name on Facebook and Twitter. He contacted Facebook and got the 200,000 followers transferred to a new, authentic Facebook account.

“But Twitter had no verification process and the book was coming out in three weeks,” he said.

Costanzo went to Trump Tower in New York to propose a new Twitter identity for the billionaire businessman and The Apprentice host.

“I said, let’s call it ‘@realDonaldTrump.’ He really seemed to like the idea. He liked the sound of it. I set up the account and uploaded the photo you still see today. I started tweeting benignly. It got followers very quickly,” Constanzo said.

He ran the account for about eight months until he left the publishing company. He has since watched @realDonaldTrump “take on a life of its own.”

“The proof is in the result: He used Twitter as a way to really get people to feel he was talking to them and they elected him; they put him in office. There’s no arguing that for him; it’s proved very effective in a positive way,” Constanzo said.

Asked if he had inadvertently created a monster, Costanzo replied: “Whatever way Donald Trump has chosen to use Twitter is obviously his responsibility. It’s proven to be his number one choice for communicating the topics on his mind.”

“I definitely recognize that I started something, but one can’t make predictions what way it’s going to go. It’s been a wild ride. Twitter has been a topic of conversation every week during his campaign and now during his presidency,” Constanzo said.

On his wild Wednesday last week, Trump began tweeting at 6:32am with a familiar plug for the Fox News show Fox & Friends, which he watches in the residence.

The first retweet of Britain First — “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” — followed minutes later, eventually earning a correction from the Dutch embassy, which said the perpetrator was neither Muslim nor a migrant.

Idiosyncratic tweets followed throughout the day as Trump traveled to Missouri — he is known to tweet from cars and planes — then the swipe at May arrived at 8.:2pm. He rounded off the day with another old trope, a dig at Obama, at 9:23pm.

“This is the point of Twitter: the immediacy,” said Costanzo, who now produces and markets books for the Associated Press. “You can get something out there whenever you want. It bypasses traditional media channels and allows people to share whatever they want to share.”

This story has been viewed 1683 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top