Early Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump said he would continue to use Twitter even though “the fake MSM” doesn’t like it, saying the social network allows him to broadcast what he called “the honest and unfiltered message” about his government to Americans.
The President went on to criticize the “fake news” of media outlets such as CNN, NBC and the New York Times, saying if he had relied on those organizations, he would have had “zero chance of winning” the presidential election.
It’s not the first time Trump has talked about how using social media allows him to get his message out to Americans directly. During an interview in January, he said he liked using the social network because he was “covered so dishonestly by the press.”
At the same time, however, that direct and unfiltered message has also caused problems for the president and his administration on a number of occasions.
To take just one example, courts in both Washington state and Hawaii used tweets that Trump posted about his proposed immigration ban to strike down the legislation, on the basis that his comments suggested the ban was targeted specifically at banning Muslims, which is unconstitutional.
Some legal experts have warned that his recent comments about the travel ban could cause similar complications as the case heads to the Supreme Court.
In a response to his Tuesday morning rant, the American Civil Liberties Union — one of the groups that has been fighting the immigration ban — suggested that it may use Trump’s tweets on the topic to help in that ongoing battle.
There have been reports recently from a number of news outlets that members of Trump’s administration would very much like to filter his tweets by having his legal team look at them before they are sent out. But Trump apparently isn’t in favor of that kind of strategy.
Direct access to his Twitter account was reportedly taken away from the president for a brief period during the election campaign, because of concerns about the impact that his unfiltered tweets might have. During that time his tweets were edited by spokesman Hope Hicks.
According to a number of White House insiders, some of the tweets that appear on Trump’s personal account come from him, via his personal Android phone, while others are written by members of his staff and are posted from an iPhone.
Trump’s defense of his Twitter use comes just a day after one of his advisers, Kellyanne Conway, criticized the media’s focus on his individual tweets, referring to what she called its “obsession with covering everything [he] says on Twitter.”
A number of media observers have pointed out, however, that the tweets from Trump are essentially official communications from the president of the United States, just as press conferences or news releases are, and therefore they deserve to be covered.
CNN media analyst Brian Stelter said the president’s tweets are an important part of the public record of his administration, since they provide a glimpse into his emotional state and give his unfiltered perspective on the events going on around him.
As more than one journalist noted in response to Trump’s Tuesday morning rant, most of the media would probably love for him to continue tweeting, because it provides them with a real-time glimpse into his thought process and endless fodder for articles. Any pressure to stop doing so seems more likely to come from members of his own administration.