As part of its package on Donald Trump’s social media presence, The New York Times published an in-depth analysis of the 45th U.S. president’s Twitter account and activity, and the paper supported its observations with interviews from inside the White House as well as with former Twitter employees.
The article, titled “How Trump Reshaped the Presidency in Over 11,000 Tweets,” has a lot going on, but here are some of the more bizarre takeaways from their research and reporting.
1. Half of Trump’s tweets since taking office have attacked a person, group, or institution.
The Times analysis determined that 5,889 of his 11,000+ tweets since taking office in Jan. 2017 are worded as attacks against targets as varied as television programs, the city of Baltimore, Jeff Bezos, many elected officials, and disfavored members of his own administration.
2. Government officials floated the idea of putting Trump’s tweets on a publishing delay to allow someone else to step in before they went live.
One of the common threads in the Times piece is the pervasive idea that Trump’s tweeting is a source of concern even within the White House. Anonymous sources report his aides trying in vain to enforce temporary moratoriums on Trump tweeting, as well as an early attempt to create a 15-minute delay from Trump hitting “send tweet” and the tweet going live.
The idea was scrapped out of concern that both the public and the president would react poorly if the system leaked.
3. Trump tweets like no one’s watching. Because they aren’t.
Analyzing the time of day at which Trump tweets, he appears to be most active in the morning, before his advisers can arrive and keep an eye on him. A later anecdote says that “Mr. Trump rarely tweets in front of others…because he does not like to wear the reading glasses he needs to see the screen.”
4. Trump’s Twitter account metrics sometimes hit global records.
Interviews with former Twitter employees confirmed that Trump’s account was and is a source of tension within the company. “Mr. Trump’s behavior came up at almost every all-hands gathering and at many smaller meetings of executives,” the article says, and later confirms that Trump’s account “often drove more ‘impressions’ — a key company metric — than any other in the world.”
5. Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino rates potential tweets on the…hot sauce scale?
There’s a lot in that article about White House social media director Dan Scaivno, who works in a “closet-sized room” within shouting distance of Trump (the president summons him by yelling “Scavino”). Besides noting that Scavino has an unusual amount of power as the man who types Trump’s directly dictated tweets, the article also says that Scavino drafts “hot,” “medium,” and “mild” versions of tweets for the president to approve.
After reading Scavino’s options, Trump “always picked the most incendiary ones and often wanted to make them even more provocative.”
6. Less than one-fifth of Trump’s follower’s accounts belong to eligible voters. The ones that are real, that is.
The Times analyzed Pew research and determined that “fewer than one-fifth of his followers are voting-age Americans.” Another firm determined that his Twitter followers are “disproportionately older, white and male compared with Twitter users over all.”
Twenty-two million, or one-third of his 66 million followers, have no profile picture or identifying account information.
7. Trump’s bad grammar and misspellings are (kind of) on purpose.
Even though Trump has Scavino writing out some of his hot, medium, and mild tweets, the common grammatical and spelling errors his account is often mocked for are seen by his staff as a crucial part of his appeal. From the article: “Mr. Trump’s team believes that his unvarnished writing, poor punctuation and increasing profanity on Twitter signals authenticity.”