Donald Trump's tweets aren't official presidential statements or statements of policy -- and the media obsesses over them anyway!
Both of these statements can't be true. They directly contradict one another. Trump's tweets either matter or they don't. (Spoiler alert: They do!)
And yet, over the last 48 hours, a slew of Trump surrogates -- not to mention Trump himself -- have tried to argue that the only way to understand Trump's social media presence is to hold both of those ideas in your head at the same time.
Here's Trump's take from this morning -- via Twitter
, of course: "The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out."
Let's be clear: There is NO ONE in the media who wants Trump to stop tweeting. Not one person. Never before have we had a direct line into how a president thinks like we do for Trump. And that's all thanks to Twitter. The media, whatever you think of us, is dependent on access -- of being given glimpses into who this President (or any president) really is and how they go about making their minds up on a given issue. And Trump's use of Twitter gives us that access in ways that would be unimaginable if he was a more orthodox or traditional president.
What's remarkable is that Trump's logic regarding his Twitter feed isn't even the most tortured defense of his social media practices out there this morning. That award goes to New York Rep. Chris Colllins
during an interview on CNN's "New Day."
Here's a part of what Collins said about Trump's tweets:
"You take them seriously because they are our President's thoughts. However, the nuances at the end, there will be a certain filter they go through when they become official policy. I mean, the attorneys always either water things down or look at the various nuances. So there is a balance. I understand it's a very narrow road I'm talking about. But you know, we need to look at official statements that have been filtered for the policy but meanwhile the tweets are unfiltered look as to how President Trump is looking at the world considering whether it's terrorism, whether it's travel, whether it's whatever it may be, jobs, the economy, tax reform, health reform. I think it's frankly refreshing."
Let's just follow Collins' logic here: Trump tweets need to be taken seriously --→ Official policy goes through a filter, unlike the tweets -→ Attorneys always change stuff --→ I get this doesn't make much sense -→ Official statements = filtered -→ Tweets are the real Trump -→ This is all good and people love it.
So. Um. Here's the thing. What Collins did in his "New Day" interview is make the case I made yesterday: That Trump's Twitter feed is more important than what his staff says is the White House's position
. That Twitter is the authentic Trump, the one not lawyered up and filtered down.
Any attempt to differentiate between Trump's Twitter feed and the official voice of the White House is a distinction without a difference. When the president speaks, it is the word of the White House. When the president tweets, it is also the word of the White House.
That is a reality that the White House staff, who, by the way, are the only ones urging Trump to tweet less, needs to come to grips with. The best way to keep the message coming out of the White House consistent is to stop -- or drastically curtail -- Trump's tweeting. Which we all know isn't going to happen. Which is good for journalism and bad for Trump's White House staff.