One can certainly understand if the media is a tad confused. This week, Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway chided media for taking President Donald Trump’s tweets so seriously and denied that tweets are one of his preferred methods of communication. Shortly thereafter White House press secretary Sean Spicer reminded media that Trump’s tweets are “official statements” and thus serious articulations of policy.
Conway was incredulous when asked about Trump’s attacks on the mayor of London within hours of the most recent terrorist attack. The comments led to politicians across the political spectrum denouncing Trump’s comments in both the U.K. and the U.S. However, when asked about the tweets, Conway objected to “this obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what he does as president.” NBC Host Craig was understandably taken aback by the comment since Trump has repeatedly stressed the important of his use of Twitter and noted “That’s his preferred method of communication with the American people.” Conway shot back “that’s not true.” It is not true that Twitter is Trump’s preferred method of communication?
Trump himself pushed back on the most recent criticism of his tweets for taking the words of London Mayor Sadiq Khan out of context and undermining this Administration’s case for the Supreme Court. He reaffirmed the important of Twitter to both his winning and keeping the White House: “The FAKE MSM is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.”
Spicer then made clear that these tweets are “official statements” and not some playful presidential past time: “The President is the President of the United States,” Spicer said at his daily press briefing. “So they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States.”
With the damaging tweets on the pending Supreme Court case, the affirmation of these tweets as “official statements” are likely to be played back to the Administration in upcoming briefing by opponents to the immigration order.
Indeed, it is chilling to think of these often ill-considered tweets as a form of official statements. Yet, it is bizarre to think that the media should not take the tweets seriously. Trump is not some character yelling incoherently in the metro that you try to ignore. He is the President of the United States and his words have impact around the world.