Having drawn the ire of the mainstream press for his extensive use of Twitter in announcing major developments and policy shifts, President-elect Donald Trump will not end the "onslaught" of posts on Twitter that fed his unconventional campaign, even after taking on the formalized duties of the Oval Office later this month, as Bloomberg notes following an announcement by incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer who said he expects Trump "will boldly use" Twitter to make major policy announcements.
Shortly after his victory on November 8, Trump said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he was rethinking his use of social media: “I’m going to be very restrained, if I use it at all, I’m going to be very restrained,” Trump said. That, however, has not happened and since then, during the countdown to Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, he’s shown little sign that he intends to follow that pledge.
In fact, making news and issuing statements on social media sites that also include Facebook and Instagram will “absolutely” continue, despite any prior promises to the contrary, incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“You know what? The fact of the matter is that when he tweets, he gets results,” Spicer said.
“You know, with all due respect, I think it freaks the mainstream media out that he has this following of over 45 plus million people that follow him on social media, that he can have a direct conversation,” Spicer said. “He doesn’t have to have it funneled through the media.”
Indeed, he doesn't, and the fact that the media suddenly finds itself locked out in this most important of information dissemination and filtration pathways, has unleashed the biggest period of soul-searching for the conventional press in decades.
In recent tweets, Trump has hinted he’d like to change decades of policy on nuclear weapons; praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin even after accusations by intelligence agencies that Russia attempted to tamper with U.S. elections; and said the United Nations is a “club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
As a result, Trump was scolded by foreign policy experts last month when he used Twitter as the venue to say that the U.S. should greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nuclear weapons. For now, if anything, this outside criticism has only emboldened Trump to avoid conventional media outlets.
On Dec. 28, the incoming president tweeted that he was trying to disregard statements by President Barack Obama that he considered “inflammatory.” “Thought it was going to be a smooth transition - NOT!” Trump said in the post.
After Putin said on Dec. 30 that he wouldn’t respond in kind to an Obama administration order expelling 35 Russian diplomats in response to that government’s hacking of Democratic Party officials, Trump tweeted: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!”
A day after praising Putin, Trump raised eyebrows by wishing a “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies.” New Year’s Day brought a more conciliatory greeting ”to all Americans” that cast ahead to “a wonderful & prosperous 2017 as we work together.”
Trump’s tweets have also targeted specific companies, including Lockheed Martin Corp. for what the president-elect termed “out of control” costs for the F-35 fighter jet, and Boeing Co. for “ridiculous” costs to build a new 747 Air Force One for future presidents. “Cancel order!” Trump said in a Twitter post on Dec. 6, sending Boeing shares lower.
Trump currently has 18.3 million followers on Twitter, 16.8 million on Facebook and 4.5 million on Instagram. He has tweeted more than 34,000 times since joining the social media platform in 2009.
As Bloomberg adds, Spicer was asked on “This Week” about Trump’s Twitter statement on Dec. 22 that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
Surprisingly, despite having the president-elect as the brand's most vocal and prominent ambassador in the world, Twitter continues to lose key personnel, most recently on December 30, when in a series of Tweets, Twitter’s Managing Director for Greater China Operations Kathy Chen says that as the Twitter APAC team is working directly with Chinese advertisers, it is the right time for her to leave the company. She joined Twitter less than 8 months ago, in April of 2016.
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Aside from the topic of Trump's tweeting, Spicer also said on Sunday that the White House may have disproportionately punished Russia by ordering the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies. Spicer said that Trump will be asking questions of U.S. intelligence agencies after President Barack Obama imposed sanctions last week on two Russian intelligence agencies over what he said was their involvement in hacking political groups in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
"One of the questions that we have is why the magnitude of this? I mean you look at 35 people being expelled, two sites being closed down, the question is, is that response in proportion to the actions taken? Maybe it was; maybe it wasn't but you have to think about that," Spicer said.
Trump is to have briefings with intelligence agencies this week after his return from vacation to New York on Sunday. On Saturday, Trump expressed continued skepticism over whether Russia was responsible for computer hacks of Democratic Party officials.
"I think it's unfair if we don't know. It could be somebody else. I also know things that other people don't know so we cannot be sure," Trump said. He said he would disclose some information on the issue on Tuesday or Wednesday, without elaborating. It is unclear if, upon taking office on Jan. 20, he would seek to roll back Obama's actions, which mark a post-Cold War low in U.S.-Russian ties.
Spicer said that after China in 2015 seized records of U.S. government employees "no action publicly was taken. Nothing, nothing was taken when millions of people had their private information, including information on security clearances that was shared. Not one thing happened." "So there is a question about whether there's a political retribution here versus a diplomatic response," he added.