President Donald Trump’s twitter account is, without a doubt, the most powerful twitter account in the world. With 49.6 million followers and counting, his personal twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, has more than twice as many followers as the official twitter account of the President of the United States, @POTUS.
The subject matter of his tweets includes political proclamations, policy updates, and the occasional jab at a political opponent or a member of the media who has drawn his ire. In an interview with Fox News, the president even went as far as to say, “I think that maybe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Twitter, because I get such a fake press, such a dishonest press.”
During his campaign, users’ countless interactions with President Trump’s tweets made them nearly impossible to miss. This, in conjunction with an Adobe media study which found that 39 percent of high school students, 51 percent of college students, and 41 percent of young professionals use twitter to get their news, was the president’s ace in the hole.
Had the media made a more concerted effort to fact-check, analyze, and report on president Trump’s twitter activity, the results of the election would have been markedly different. The media failed to do so, however, and the president used his unfiltered, unchecked virtual megaphone to instill in the American public a sense of doubt and distrust of both his opponents and the mainstream, ultimately winning him the election.
We have entered into a new era of politics characterized by populism, divisiveness, and skepticism. President Trump’s tweets leading up to the election and during his term as president have fostered an environment in which facts are debatable and truth is subjective. The ways in which politics are covered, both independently and by the mainstream media, must adapt to combat this trend.
The president’s tweets are not just tweets- he has the ability to hold a press conference at his fingertips, and his use of this platform must be covered in the same way that the media covers traditional press conferences. It is the responsibility of the media, specifically journalists, to prosecute the president’s tweets.
President Trump’s tweets must be fact-checked to confirm their accuracy. The president’s tweets must be analyzed to determine what motivates him to press “tweet” and determine if and how they affect policy and politics in the real world. Most importantly, this fact-checking and analysis must be reported in order to better inform voters, discredit what is really “fake news,” and make fact objective again.