This is one of the strangest things ever in American politics. A president that comments on issues, and basically anything that comes into his head, on social media. The vast majority of Donald Trump’s tweets are about him. He is so thinned skinned that any kind of criticism will be countered with forceful insults and vindictiveness. A man with this kind of volatile temperament better have handlers nearby that can quickly and effectively reign him in.
Donald Trump’s Twitter account wasn’t always the powerful spectacle it has become. Journalist Adam Harris goes through the archives to see how it evolved.
In the month since the election, Mr Trump has taken to Twitter to lambast what he views as unfavourable media coverage, rail against corporations who might take jobs overseas and defend his phone calls with international leaders.
Journalists and pundits are still trying to discover if there is a method to Mr Trump’s Twitter madness. We looked at his seven-year Twitter history to see what could be learned.
His interaction with Twitter began much like any other high profile account managed by a group of marketing professionals.
In May 2009, Mr Trump, then a private businessman, sent his first tweet promoting a forthcoming appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
There were tweets about The Apprentice, his appearances, family milestones and quotes from Mr Trump himself. The tweets directly from him were usually tagged “from Donald Trump,” but rarely veered into politics.
By June 2011, tweets no longer acknowledged whether they were directly from Mr Trump or originated with his team and the lines between his businesses and political pursuits began to blur.
Methods to his medium
But Mr Trump still prefers tweets to more traditional media – he hasn’t held a press conference since 27 July. Although he has only given a handful of interviews since being elected, he has tweeted more than 130 times about topics ranging from the media to foreign policy to domestic affairs.
Indeed, Mr Trump does favour tweets over contact with the press – a policy he tweeted out, of course.
“If the press would cover me accurately & honourably,” he tweeted on Monday, “I would have far less reason to ‘Tweet’.”
On the other hand, his tweets appear to be influenced by the media – his tweet that said flag burners should be jailed came roughly 30 minutes after Fox News ran a story on flag burners.
And on 29 November, Mr Trump tweeted that Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s recount effort was a “scam”, joined by “badly defeated” Democrats. The tweet, however, followed a Fox News segment reporting that the Clinton campaign would join the recount efforts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
As the President-elect, Mr Trump’s tweets have added import.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump criticised Boeing for the price tag associated with the manufacture of Air Force One, which he said would cost taxpayers $4bn. The company saw a near immediate dent in its share prices, but recovered after revealing that it does not yet have the contract to build it. Instead it has a development deal with the government.
“We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States,” said Boeing spokesman Todd Belcher in a statement.
“We look forward to working with the US Air Force on subsequent phases of the programme allowing us to deliver the best planes for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer.”
It took six years after being inaugurated for Mr Obama to give up his Blackberry.
According to senior advisor Kellyanne Conway, who spoke during in an interview with Jake Tapper, it is still undecided whether Trump will continue to have personal access to his Twitter account when he assumes office.