As the president continues to take heat for posting insults, spreading conspiracy theories and spouting unsubstantiated claims through his Twitter account, many are calling for his account to be deleted.
However, Trump supporters like CNN commentator Jeffrey Lord argue that Trump’s use of Twitter is analogous to Franklin Roosevelt’s use of radio in his “Fireside Chats” and John F. Kennedy’s use of television as America’s first televised president.
Lord insisted on CNN last week that President Trump has revolutionized the way politicians connect with the people, establishing and maintaining a strong base from a social media platform.
Should Trump delete his Twitter? Danny Hayes, a political science professor at The George Washington University, says that the platform isn’t the issue.
“Technology isn’t the enemy,” Hayes said. “But to the extent that it’s used to spread falsehoods and misinformation, to enflame passions, to attack other people… I don’t think the way that Trump uses his Twitter is helpful to democracy or to the country at all.”
During an election season that utilized social media more than past years, Trump’s Twitter presence became the signature aspect of his campaign.
Nevertheless, Trump’s use of Twitter can simply be a sign of the times. Presidents have long used the latest in technology to connect to the American people. In an era of social media domination, Trump may be considered smart for fostering such a strong following on a social media platform.
In fact, Trump began sending out tweets in 2009 that expressed sentiments that reflect some of his presidential positions today.
"My persona will never be that of a wallflower – I’d rather build walls than cling to them" –Donald J. Trump
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2009
In addition, Trump also soon began tweeting about President Obama and his policies, establishing himself as the government critic that he later ran an entire campaign on.
President Obama played golf yesterday???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2013
Obama will go down as the worst President in history on many topics but especially foreign policy.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2012
The president quickly established his position as a say-it-like-you-mean-it character, tweeting insults at other public figures as early as 2011.
I feel sorry for Rosie 's new partner in love whose parents are devastated at the thought of their daughter being with @Rosie–a true loser.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2011
.@ariannahuff is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2012
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2012
While the Twitter of this unapologetic Washington outsider impressed his supporters during the campaign, calls for Trump to delete his Twitter have come to an apex in recent months, especially following the president’s still unsubstantiated wiretapping claims against former president Barack Obama.
The initial late-night tweet came about a month ago; but still, the controversy continues into today’s hectic news cycle. Several other political actors, such as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and former national security advisor Susan Rice, have been pulled into the story and have fueled the “wire tapping” story fire. Over a month later, the claims and its continuing aftermath still dominate the news – all because of a few tweets.
The president’s social media revolution is powerful, but is it as revolutionary as FDR’s Fireside Chats? Hayes rejects this comparison.
“The argument that somehow this is analogous to other major changes to the way that presidents have used technology to communicate with the American people is premature because it’s unclear whether or not this has been helpful,” Hayes said. “By all accounts, Trump’s use of Twitter is viewed, not only by a lot of voters but a lot of other politicians, as a liability.”