Bob Woodward’s book on Donald Trump’s presidency has offered a glimpse of Trump behind the scenes. While Trump and White House officials have denied portions of the book, much of it can be corroborated with public information, and some details match things other officials and whistleblowers have shared. Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has used Twitter as a primary means of public communication, and his tweets have been shared, analyzed, sometimes ridiculed, and questioned. Now Woodward has provided some information from the other side of the Tweetscape — how Trump’s tweeting habit is handled in the White House, and how Trump obsesses over the medium, even to the point of printing his own tweets to re-read.
Fear: Trump In The White House describes multiple times that Trump’s team tried to get his tweeting under control. In Chapter 13, Woodward is describing a meeting between Trump and Senator Lindsey Graham. They’re discussing the negative reaction to tweets in which Trump accused Barack Obama of illegally wiretapping him, and Graham is quoted as telling the president, “You got an uppercut to the jaw, delivered by you,” and “Don’t tweet to your disadvantage.” In Chapter 23, he describes Reince Priebus’ attempts to control the tweeting by controlling Trump’s television access, working to prevent Trump from returning to the White House early enough on Sunday evening to see himself covered on MSNBC and CNN.
Chapter 25 details Hope Hicks, Staff Secretary Rob Porter, Gary Cohn, and Dan Scavino trying to convince Trump to let them vet tweets. He could draft a tweet and let one of them check it before sending, or they could suggest tweets that he could send. Woodward says Trump initially agreed, but then just continued to tweet as he pleased anyway.
This is my megaphone. Let’s not call it Twitter. Let’s call it social media.
However, while he ignored what his staff thought of the tweets, Trump didn’t ignore what his audience liked. He ordered printouts of any tweet that received more than 200,000 likes, and studied them to find what made them successful. An example of a recent Trump tweet that received more than 200k likes is one of POTUS’ ‘drain the swamp’ messages — posted after an anonymous White House official wrote an op-ed saying that staff works to oppose the president’s most dangerous ideas.
I’m draining the Swamp, and the Swamp is trying to fight back. Don’t worry, we will win!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2018
Priebus is even said to have referred to Trump’s bedroom, where, Woodward says, he sits with “the clicker, the TiVo, and his Twitter account,” as “the devil’s workshop,” and called early mornings and Sunday nights “the witching hour,” due to the worries the staff had over what problems Donald Trump would cause with the next round of tweets.