(AP/Jorge Silva)

Those "Fake News Trophy" stories reveal the worst part of Donald Trump's Twitter obsession

You may be giving Trump too much credit by getting offended by his outbursts


follow us in feedly
Jeremy Binckes
November 27, 2017 5:44PM (UTC)

On Monday morning, President Donald Trump participated in his usual morning routine, which he's regularly followed since his election. He wakes up, watches cable news and gets angry because the news doesn't line up with his unique take on reality.

It's unclear what exactly his disagreement with reported facts was this particular morning, but he apparently thought that at 9:04 a.m. — as his interim pick to lead the CFPB was starting a showdown with the acting director of the regulatory agency and as his party's tax bill remained in a state of uncertainty — it was appropriate to tweet that there should be a "FAKE NEWS TROPHY" awarded to the network that agrees with him the least.

Here we see the problem Trump creates for the media and for the nation captured in 250 characters.

At this moment, the president isn't proposing a major policy right now. That would require effort and an understanding of how our government works, both on a granular level and a macro level, two things he has expressed an aversion to in his actions if not his words.

He isn't even suggesting doing something more tongue-in-cheek, like proposing an actual, satirical tournament for a real fake news trophy. That, again, would require effort including finding facts that were wrong, then organizing and ranking them.

No, Trump would rather just sit back and retweet other people, without even looking at who they are or what they're promoting. Trump made headlines with a different tweet over the weekend, retweeting a fake news peddler going by the Twitter handle "Magapill."

Advertisement:

While outlets were quick to point out that Trump retweeted someone who peddles in fake news (it's not a surprise anymore), the following should also be asked: How long did the president look at the link before writing, "even I didn't realize we did so much?" Did he see the headlines, many of which have nothing to do with him? (One news story: "UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea.")

What about his staff? The White House communications office isn't a well-oiled operation. Though press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been blindly obedient to her boss, her team has traditionally treated Trump as some sort of Schrodinger's cat. That is to say, his Twitter rants are official policy, until they're just his personal opinions.

It's trope and a cliche to write, but it's worth repeating that Trump isn't a traditional politician and shouldn't be treated as one, particularly by reporters. The Associated Press can't write that Trump "will not campaign" for Roy Moore. Yes, he's not on the trail, but his paid shill went on TV to tell Alabamians to vote for Moore and the president tweeted this out over this weekend:

Advertisement:

He's campaigning, for sure, just not within the the narrow AP definition of the term.

Overall, Trump's Twitter account is not a Rosetta Stone for the American public many of us in the press make it out to be. It doesn't say anything of import. It doesn't reveal his or his administration's inner workings.

Instead, it paints a picture of a man screaming into the void, one who has all the hallmarks of a "malignant narcissist who is also on the bipolar spectrum," according to John Gartner. Gartner isn't the only psychologist who seems to think that there are problems with Trump's mental state. More and more are speaking out, and, more and more, it's becoming important to listen to them.

Until we litigate that out, here's a tip to keep your sanity with Trump in charge in the meantime: Pay attention to his actions, not his words. While we in the press can't "unfollow" him, you certainly can.


Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

MORE FROM Jeremy BinckesFOLLOW jbinckes

BROWSE SALON.COM
COMPLETELY AD FREE,
FOR THE NEXT HOUR

Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access

Click Here
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address

•••






Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •