Trump Will Regret His Return to Twitter


Trump became a Twitter star by two means. The first was the novelty of a presidential candidate popping off like a sloppy drunk at closing time. Personal attacks on his enemies, policy shifts, firings, lies about a “fixed election,” warnings about the “deep state,” his running commentaries on Fox News broadcasts and self-praise — Trump churned out tweets like an automatic writer. Political journalists created Donald Trump columns in their TweetDeck set-ups and shouted, “Didja see what Trump just tweeted?” throughout the workday. Trump sought to make news with his tweets and did, as many of his eruptions became instant news stories.

The environment that so nurtured Trump’s nuttism has degraded since he filled our silos with his opinions and policy statements. Many journalists still use Twitter, but the site has lost its cultural and political primacy. During his vacation from Twitter, TikTok became the world’s most popular domain, and his comments on Truth Social or at rallies no longer carried instant weight now that he was an ex-president. Even since announcing his candidacy and leading the polls, Trump has often failed to make himself Topic A in the political conversation (except for during his spurt of indictments). Even Fox News, which pampered him like a pet pig during his presidency, now gives him the cold shoulder.

Instead of being president or his party’s leading presidential candidate, Trump is mostly a multiply charged criminal defendant battling state and federal prosecutors. After dipping his toe into the new Twitter stream, it’s likely that Trump will aggressively recycle his 2015 to 2021 act on the service. But who will listen?

Like most boars who are ignored, Trump will likely roar louder to be heard. But that won’t likely win him the audience and approval he seeks. As the New York Times reported in 2019, an aide told him that the more he tweeted, the less people paid attention. Trump believed that the likes his tweets won were evidence that a decision was popular, but that wasn’t the case, the paper found. Tweets that got the most likes tended to be more poorly received by the electorate, a reality Trump refused to acknowledge.

Many journalists wrongly believe that they were “responsible” for Trump’s political success because they didn’t vet him heavily enough in 2016, a notion I shot down in March of that year. But it is true that they became slaves to his Twitter feed once he became president, rightly understanding that a president’s statements are newsworthy even if disseminated in electronic bursts. But if Trump believes he can return to Twitter during the 2024 campaign and run the 2016 script again, he’s wrong. It’s not the same press corps that transmuted his tweets into news stories back. They learned a lesson.

It’s not the same Twitter as before. It’s not the same river. It’s not even the same lake.


But is it the same pond? Send speculations to [email protected]. No new email alert subscriptions are being honored at this time. Join me in calling it Twitter. Don’t follow me on Mastodon, Post, Bluesky, Notes, or Threads. My RSS feed is an ocean that refuses no river.


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