Donald Trump speaks to the world on two different Twitter accounts. One is @POTUS, the formal, traditional voice of the president. By January 23, he had posted only seven messages, three to say thank you. The second Twitter handle is @realDonaldTrump where he tweets in the early hours of the morning with instant responses to social media and television comics or critics. This is the unedited Donald who makes six a.m. headlines on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. By January 23, in six of these messages, he boasted repeatedly about GREAT REVIEWS for his inaugural address and stressed that 31 million Americans had watched on TV, more than watched Obama four years ago. The @realDonald Trump account, started in 2009, has 21.4 million followers; @POTUS which he inherited has 14.3 million followers. It is expected that @realDonaldTrump will be his favorite means of reaching the public. During the campaign, he used this technique to great advantage in becoming the number one story of the day. The beat goes on with blockbuster results, now that he is president.
It is important to understand how Donald Trump views his job and the world. He sits in the White House at night watching television and reading social media, sending out instant reactions and judgments in fourteen character tweets. TV anchors on the three major networks react to the tweets at six a.m. with bold head lines. Panels of political and historical experts then chime in, offering liberal and conservative views. That is the system American citizens, as well as members of Congress, now have for learning what major changes will occur each day in our nation.
The pace and speed of this first week of the Trump presidency have been very fast, with Trump employing the presidential Executive Orders as his means of demonstrating bold decision-making and power. Surrounded by a phalanx of standing aides, he sits at his desk in the oval office, signs each order and holds it up for cameras to click and record. Most of the orders relate to campaign promises, which he stresses after each signing. His years as a showman have been on display every day. He looks like a man of action and resolve. He is in charge and he is executing change as he promised his supporters he would do. It is worth noting that Barack Obama who used executive orders to overcome the relentless Republican opposition, was dubbed “The Imperial President” by his critics. He never issued this many orders in any week of his two terms in office. At this rate, Trump will soon surpass his total.
Two Trump biographers who know him well have described his first week in clear, vivid terms. Tim O’Brien saw the new president as, “a guy on a Pogo stick in the Rose Garden bouncing around with a TV remote control in his hand trying to decide what to respond to in the next 30 seconds on Twitter.” Michael D’Antonio wrote, “ If he could have commanded the attention of the world media every day of his life in the past, he would have. The fact that the press corps is captive in the White House and can be dragged into these executive order signings is, for him, like mainlining heroin. He has hit his stride and is thrilled with this.”
There were certain issues Donald Trump fixated on during his first week in office. The size of the Inaugural crowd on Friday was debated for days. Trump declared, “It looked honestly like a million and a half people, whatever it was, it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” He became very combative when aerial photos clearly showed the crowd did not stretch that far. An analysis by the NYTimes compared photos of the same areas from Obama’s 2009 inauguration that drew 1.8 million people. Park Service and Metro reports of Trump’s crowd was in the hundreds of thousands. Next, he insisted his press secretary , Sean Spicer, meet the press corps on Saturday, to repeat that Trump had “the largest inauguration crowd ever”. Spicer left immediately without taking any questions. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the White House had “alternative facts” about the size of the crowd. This new definition went viral on social media and Chuck Todd, the host, countered, by calling alternative facts “falsehoods”.
Donald Trump moved to a second issue when he charged that three to five million illegal votes had been fraudulently cast in the 2016 election. He was questioning the fact that Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. The immediate response from Republicans and Democrats in all 50 states was that this did not occur. Nevertheless, he insisted there had to be major investigations of the fraud, especially that it could have been by illegal aliens – immigrants. Although representative Chaffetz, head of the House Oversight Committee said they would not pursue this subject, Trump has not moved from his position that a fraud investigation should take place. Coverage by newspapers and television political panels saw fraud as a completely false accusation.
A third position Trump continued from the campaign was his “war” with the press whom he labeled “the most dishonest people on the earth”. He was joined by Stephen Bannon,his chief strategist, who called the media, “the opposition party”. Of the election, Bannon said, “The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 % wrong.” Later, he added, “The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence and no hard work.” Certain journalists reacted defiantly: Stephen Engelberg, editor in chief of Pro Publica, the non-profit news organization, wrote: “We are part of an essential function in any democracy. We are here to tell the truth and we will continue to do so, regardless of how badly some might want us to parrot ‘alternative facts’”.
Other members of the media, particularly newspapers began to use the word ‘lie’ instead of falsehood when referring to words from Donald Trump or members of his staff. John Barry an analyst with the New York Times, titled his valuable article on January 26, “ In Swirl of ‘Untruths”, and ‘Falsehoods,’Calling a Lie a Lie. “ The definition of lie in the Oxford English Dictionary is “ A false statement made with intent to deceive.” Barry draws on Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California, who says of a person who lies, “There is an intention to deceive, and a certain moral opprobrium attaches to it, a reprehensibility of motive. That is a classic explanation of telling lies. In September, when Trump announced that he no longer believed President Obama was born in Kenya, he did it in one spare sentence, “President Obama was born in the United States. Period.” The New York Times responded on the front page with the headline, “Trump Gives Up a Lie but Refuses to Repent.”
Trump visited the C. I. A. later in the week, ostensibly to mend fences with one of our leading intelligence agencies with whom he has been feuding for weeks. However, while there Trump made a serious error and omission. He stood before the Wall of Honor where 117 stars represented men and women who had died in service to the nation. They had all received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Yet, he made no mention of the hallowed ground, of the dedicated and courageous people who were represented by the stars. Instead he gave a rambling speech about himself, the “winning” campaign and his appearance many times on the cover of “Time”– as he has done often since inaugurated. It is a constant theme of self aggrandizement. As many observers have learned. Donald J. Trump is not a man who knows the meaning of humility.
Amazon reports best selling books. Two novels: “1984” by George Orwell became # 1 last week; “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, and Hannah Arendt’s nonfiction “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” The press in all forms is of major importance in our country. Perhaps, Thomas Jefferson said it best. “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I would not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.”
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………Joyce S. Anderson January 31, 2017