CNN Special Report “Twitter and Trump” with Bill Weir explores the President’s prolific and controversial use of the social media platform on Friday, August 25, at 9 p.m. ET.
People don't like Trump's Twitter habit and don't believe that it does good things for either Trump or the country
If Trump scaled back his tweeting his numbers would almost certainly improve
President Trump’s approval ratings are dismal in the new CNN national poll. Ditto his trust ratings. And the numbers around whether his first six months on office have been a success or a failure. And virtually every other number in the poll.
There’s also a clear solution to Trump’s problems – or at least a way to stop the bleeding – contained in the poll. And it goes like this: STOP TWEETING. Or, at a minimum, stop tweeting about the things Trump is obsessed with tweeting about.
Seven in 10 Americans say that Trump’s tweeting habits “too often seem to be in response to news he may have seen on TV” and believe that Twitter is a “risky way for a president to communicate.” More than six in 10 say his tweets “too often turn out to be misleading” and are “easy to misunderstand.”
These numbers don’t just reflect reflexive Democratic dislike for all Trump does – and tweets – either. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans say his tweets are too often a response to what he sees on TV. Forty-nine percent of Republicans say his tweets don’t send the right message to world leaders. Fifty percent of Republicans believe the President’s tweets are a risky way to communicate.
The message from all of these numbers is un-missable: People don’t like Trump’s Twitter habit and don’t believe that it does good things for either Trump or the country.
If Trump scaled back his tweeting – or avoided days like Monday where he spends a significant chunk of time settling petty scores with other politicians via Twitter – his numbers would almost certainly improve, according to the CNN poll.
That’s not to suggest that less – or even no – tweeting from Trump would solve all of his political problems. It wouldn’t. But, what it would do is begin the process of reorienting the way in which the public perceives him to be acting and thinking day in and day out. At the moment, much of the perception of Trump on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is formed by what he tweets. And that perception is not good.
But, here’s the thing: Trump will never stop tweeting or fundamentally alter what and who he tweets about.
Trump believes that Twitter is absolutely critical to his political success. He views it as one of the main reasons he is president today.
“My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth,” Trump tweeted way back in October 2012.
In the second general election presidential debate – almost exactly four years after the tweet above – Trump opined on social media and its uses in response to a question from CNN’s Anderson Cooper about whether his Twitter feed was presidential:
“Tweeting happens to be a modern-day form of communication. I mean, you can like it or not like it. I have, between Facebook and Twitter, I have almost 25 million people. It’s a very effective way of communication. So you can put it down, but it is a very effective form of communication. I’m not unproud of it, to be honest with you.”
(Sidebar: “Not unproud” is a great way of describing your feelings. I am not unproud of my old YouTube videos, for example.)
And, as president, Trump has sounded a similar note.
“My use of social media is not Presidential - it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” he tweeted on July 1. “Make America Great Again!”
Trump has also repeatedly – and wrongly – suggested that the only people who want him to stop tweeting are the media. “The Fake News Media works hard at disparaging & demeaning my use of social media because they don’t want America to hear the real story!,” Trump tweeted in May. “Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people),” he tweeted on August 1. “Only way for me to get the truth out!”
The media, as I have written repeatedly, do not want Trump to stop tweeting; it’s a unique window into how he thinks and what he cares about.
But, in Trump’s mind, it is far easier to blame the media for critiquing his social media habits than to face the reality that even many of his supporters don’t like what – and that – he tweets.
Trump won’t change. Particularly when the belief that Twitter got him elected is so ingrained in his mind. Need proof? Trump tweeted 13 times on Monday. He had sent two more tweets and retweeted something from “Fox & Friends” before 7:30 a.m. today.