- President Donald Trump’s Twitter use has gotten to the point where the social media company has, for the first time, marked two of his tweets with a fact check for the public.
- His use of the platform to communicate with his fans and detractors is unprecedented. Trump’s tweets from the White House have the ability to not only drive news cycles but spark policy and force the hands of his opponents.
- Back on Mother’s Day, President Trump came close to breaking his all-time record for most tweets in a day.
- The president’s Twitter use is often understood as trying to create a distraction or push for a shift in messaging when he doesn’t like his press coverage. He also tweets a lot about ratings.
- Using a database logging all of Trump’s tweets, Business Insider analysed how Trump wields tweets in order to control the narrative.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Donald Trump was a prolific Twitter user well before entering politics.
Now that he’s president, his tweets can move markets, force the hands of world leaders, and scramble his own administration into action.
Over the last week, Trump has used his influence on Twitter to hammer out false accusations that a cable news host murdered a former staffer and to call the legitimacy of mail-in voting into question. And for the first time, Twitter slapped a fact check on two of Trump’s tweets that attempted to undermine public confidence in voting by mail. The president has since issued a “Clean up your act, NOW!!!!” directive to social media platforms.
Trump is truly the first social media president, and it’s hard to imagine what his time in office might look like if Twitter wasn’t at his disposal. The platform allows him to shift the story, control the narrative, and speak directly to his constituents in an unfettered, unfiltered way that thrills fans and pains critics.
The volume – and volatility – of Trump’s tweets tell a bigger story than the day-to-day controversy over their content. In Trump’s world, you distract from one problem – impeachment, poor ratings, the Mueller Report – by creating another (on Twitter).
Here are Trump’s record days on Twitter, and why he may have been running rampant over your timeline, according to the Factba.se database:
1. Peak ‘Apprentice’: 161 tweets on Jan. 5, 2015
Trump’s ability to flood the zone with tweets and retweets was on full display back in 2015.
With the 14th season of the “Celebrity Apprentice” premiering – his final one as the show’s host – Trump went to town promoting the show on a Monday.
As expected, the show’s ratings were a major focus.
The bulk of these tweets would have benefited from the quote tweet function, which did not exist at the time.
So for most of these, Trump is just copy and pasting people praising him and tweeting that out instead of hitting the retweet button, which he still had fully at his disposal.
Despite all of the busy Twitter days that have come since he moved into the Oval Office, the record still stands.
2. Davos dreaming: 142 tweets on Jan. 22, 2020
While overseas in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum,Trump’s impeachment trial was set to get underway in the Senate.
The House had already impeached him on the counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from his efforts to get dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son in Ukraine
Trump was eager to change the subject, promoting his appearances on cable news, touting the “Very successful (for USA) trip” and quoting people defending him on Fox News.
He also weighed in on the Democratic primary, once again alleging the primary was “rigged” against Bernie Sanders.
Adding those to a mix of retweeting Republican lawmakers and the Republican National Committee’s campaign videos, Trump hit a clip of as many as 41 tweets per hour.
Some were also hard to make sense of, such as a nonsequitur “NO PRESSURE” tweet during the evening over in Davos.
That day’s total of 142 is his record so far as president.
3. The Mother’s Day storm: 126 tweets on May 10, 2020
Not long after Trump tweeted an almost obligatory “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!” at 8:10 a.m. on Sunday, May 10, he cleared 50 tweets and retweets combined by the bottom of the hour.
Outside of the president’s Twitter account, the news was not good. The coronavirus death toll mounted and his approval ratings continued to sag as new polls showed former Vice President Joe Biden ahead in key swing states.
Trump’s topics were a mix of old and new.
He re-litigated the Russia investigation, calling for Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on the probe to be revoked.
In addition to retweeting a QAnon conspiracy theory account and a bunch of other regularly referenced people, Trump kept beating the drum on his newly formed “Obamagate” conspiracy – accusing the former president of a crime he can’t quite explain.
Trump kept up that blistering pace through the night, ending up with 142 tweets on the day and nearly breaking his presidential record.
4. More impeachment woes: 123 tweets on Dec. 12, 2019
When the House Judiciary Committee was debating what would become the two articles of impeachment against President Trump, he kicked his tweeting into high gear.
Although Trump was irritated – decrying the process as a “hoax” and retweeting his Republican defenders – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been hesitant to begin the process at all, were it not for the scandal snowballing from an anonymous whistleblower complaint about Trump seeking leverage over the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden.
As lawmakers parsed through the Ukraine scandal, Trump live-tweeted the cable news coverage by touting anyone who was willing to defend him.
Trump hit 58 tweets per hour, for an average of one tweet every 62 seconds, according to the Factba.se database.
5. ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ redux: 119 tweets on Jan. 6, 2015
If Trump had somehow managed to shoehorn all of the promoting he was doing on Twitter for the “Celebrity Apprentice” into one day, he would have hit 280 tweets in 24 hours.
In total, he’s tweeted about the show more than 1,000 times since creating his account, according to the Factba.se database, and continues to do so to this day.
But because there are only so many hours in the day, Trump picked up where he left off the day before and clocked in at 119 tweets the day after he set his all-time record.
Following another common pattern in his Twitter use, Trump shared articles mentioning him, such as a TMZ story involving comments he made about former NFL wide receiver Terrell “T.O.” Owens, who was competing on the show that season.
6. Impeachment woes, Sunday shows edition: 105 tweets on Dec. 8, 2019
After a week of contentious Ukraine hearings on Capitol Hill, President Trump fired off on Twitter as big interviews on the major networks’ Sunday shows aired.
Programs like “Meet The Press,” “Face the Nation,” and “Fox News Sunday” usually feature panels of reporters and political operatives recapping the news of the week and offering analysis. They also usually have a couple of news-making interviews with federal officials.
With the Ukraine scandal approaching formal articles of impeachment, Trump went into TV critic overdrive.
Trump was critical of “Fox News Sunday” for featuring guests – including Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California – who were not staunch supporters of the president, and touted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for defending him on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Overall, Trump’s high volume Sunday was another example of his propensity for using his executive time to watch TV and weigh-in in real-time, all day long.
7. “Vote for @realDonaldTrump & stop Hillary!” A preview of things to come: 102 tweets, April 12, 2015.
Again, in the era before the quote tweet function, Donald Trump did a lot of copy and pasting.
On the day Hillary Clinton announced her plans to run for president in 2016 – confirming what had been a foregone conclusion in the political press for years – Trump gave a shoutout to just about anyone who was tweeting at him to encourage the then-real estate mogul to take on HRC.
A common theme among those whom Trump touted that day was an imagined debate between him and Clinton.
While it may have seemed like a distant fantasy then, even for Trump’s most ardent fans, it would become a reality just over a year later.
8. More ratings, more ‘Apprentice’: 100 tweets on Feb. 27, 2013
Trump’s last triple digit tweet day came on the heels of another new season of the Celebrity Apprentice.
Using Twitter to keep the publicity going, Trump tweeted heavily about his appearances on Jimmy Fallon, Howard Stern, “The Today Show,” and “The Kelly and Michael Show,” the latter of which also featured his daughter, Ivanka.
Otherwise, Trump took some shots at his now-campaign adviser Karl Rove for his work on Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s reelection race.
9. “Carlos Danger” and Steve Jobs come back from the grave: 95 tweets on July 24, 2013.
Trump was not alone in tweeting about Anthony Weiner, whose online alias “Carlos Danger” had been making headlines.
The former congressman was waging a comeback campaign for mayor of New York City, only to have it all unravel again by being embroiled in a second sexting scandal.
As a longtime fixture of New York tabloids, Trump was quick to weigh in.
Elsewhere, Trump tweeted about iPhone screens being too small, and quipped that Steve Jobs should come back from the grave.
Otherwise, Trump was not tweeting as much about ratings, but he was still weighing in frequently about the biggest story on TV that day, rarely passing up an occasion to inject himself into the conversation.
10. More Chuck Todd: 92 tweets on Jan. 27, 2015
Although Trump would be running for president in a few months, something about Chuck Todd hosting “Meet the Press” made him think he could do a better job.
Trump is a creature of TV, even watching up to seven hours of cable news in the White House residence before heading down to the West Wing to start the work day.
Otherwise, Trump spent the day tweeting about the Miss Univese pageant – a fixture of his celebity persona – and alleging that Hurricane Juno was not that bad, blaming President Obama for reasons that are unclear.
There were also more Celebrity Apprentice retweets, of course.
These Twitter tears have relied heavily on retweets with original posts scattered throughout.
Here are five “honorary mentions” or days when Trump lashed out at those he disagreed with, in his own words with original tweets.
11. Trump’s tirade targets some common enemies: 36 tweets on Nov. 17, 2019.
If it’s Sunday, chances are Trump is live-tweeting “the shows.”
The Commander-in-Tweet took aim at the “Fake News,” “Fake Whistleblower,” “Do Nothing Democrats,” and “Never Trumpers” in a Ukraine investigation tirade.
Catching up with those Sunday shows, Trump in the same tweet lauded Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and condemned Fox News host Chris Wallace.
He also heaped praise on Rep. Elise Stefanik and Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, and displayed somewhat uncharacteristic generosity toward former Vice President Joe Biden, saying he is not a “rabid dog. He is actually somewhat better than that.”
While the Sunday shows often seek to frame the important news stories for the coming week, this is a prime example of Trump trying to counterprogram them one tweet at a time.
12. A day for freewheeling and wide-ranging rancor: 36 tweets on July 11, 2019.
Trump had a packed morning: He body-shamed Sen. Elizabeth Warren and resurrected her nickname of “Pocahantas”; compared former Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg to to cartoon character Alfred E. Neuman from “Mad” magazine and tagged an incorrect Twitter profile in the process (that’s since been deleted); and joked about staying in the White House beyond a second term.
While hyping a Social Media Summit geared toward protecting Americans’ right to free speech, Trump ended up sowing confusion by referring to “that day in November, 2016, that I came down the escalator with the person who was to become your future First Lady.” Seeing as the election happened in November 2016, however, he was likely referring to announcing his presidential campaign in June 2015.
Trump also claimed that “didn’t use many banks” because he didn’t “need their money.” However, The New York Times reported that he took $US2 billion in loans from Deutsche Bank alone.
13. Trump defends a ‘congenial phone call’ with the Ukrainian president: 35 tweets on Oct. 3, 2019.
Trump was in Florida, where he signed the “Executive Order on Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors.”
But the actual workings of the government didn’t stop him from doubling down on the Democratic party and its alleged partner-in-crime, the news media, and accusing them of conducting the “Greatest Witch Hunt” in American history based on a “congenial phone call.”
Trump also continued slinging mud at Rep. Adam Schiff and renewed calls for his ouster.
This would only get more heated as the impeachment inquiry progressed.
14. Trump rains down on Robert Mueller: 34 tweets on July 24, 2019.
Trump clung tightly to the victim card, casting former Special Counsel Robert Mueller as Public Enemy No. 1 ahead of his highly-anticipated testimony at the conclusion of the Mueller Report into Trump’s alleged collusion and obstruction.
He also blasted Democrats for “illegally” making up a crime and “pinning it on a very innocent President.” Even “crooked” Hillary Clinton and “lying and leakin'” James Comey didn’t escape the line of fire.
But his tune changed as the day progressed, with The Times reporting that the White House was abuzz because Mueller’s testimonial had been a disappointment, and Trump crowed over the left’s “BIG” defeat.
15. Democrats v. Trump: 34 tweets on Oct. 14, 2019.
Decrying the “impeachment scam,” Trump characterised Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan as a “despicable human being!” and then lashed out at Adam Schiff, who served as the lead impeachment manager, for protecting the identity of the whistleblower who sounded the alarm on the April 21 call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump that triggered the ensuing impeachment trial.
He shared segments by Mark Levin on “The Mark Levin Show” on Fox News that labelled the impeachment inquiry as a “coup” and described Pelosi as “the ring leader in this whole rogue operation.”
And he also issued a statement imposing “powerful” sanctions on Turkey and called on “anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds.”
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