[Background and quotes from a Washington Post article by Phillip Rucker and Danielle Paquette.]
One day last week, President-elect Donald Trump fired off an early morning tweet to his 18.9 million Twitter followers: “General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!” Some 18,000 recipients retweeted it to others, multiplying the president-elect's slap at General Motors.
What of it, you ask? Well, for starters, Google searches for information about GM spiked by 200%. By the stock market's closing bell that afternoon, GM stock had fallen -- despite the fact that Trump's claim was false.
GM executives rushed to save their reputation, issuing a statement: "All Chevrolet Cruze sedans sold in the U.S. are built in GM’s assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio.” It's true that their plant in Mexico makes a Cruze SUV, but it is sold primarily in European markets with only 2% sold in the U.S.
A few days later, Trump did it again, this time firing off a tweet scolding the House Republicans for trying to gut the independent ethics office, which added impetus to their quickly reversing that decision. The result was a good thing; what I'm addressing now is Trump's twitter method of communicating and the dangerous power he has.
Then there was his tweet promoting his inauguration singer Jackie Evancho, which was followed by a big jump in sales of her latest album. And then he taunted his replacement on "The Apprentice," Arnold Schwarzenegger, for the show's poor ratings. Another attack on another car maker for wanting to build a plant in Mexico, which prompted action from Toyoto.
Rucker and Paquette concluded:
"Prolific, indiscriminate and often deceptive tweeting has been a central part of Trump’s public identity for years, well before he ran for president. He long ago mastered the medium to promote his brand, deflect unwanted attention and settle scores.
"During the campaign, Trump used Twitter to insult his adversaries and punch at people he thought had slighted him . . . . But now, two weeks before being sworn in as president, Trump’s megaphone . . . has consequences that go far beyond a 'there-he-goes-again' dismissal. He is about to be the president, moving markets and taking action.
"On Saturday, Trump used Twitter to argue again that Russia’s hacking during last year’s presidential campaign had no bearing on his victory, despite a report from U.S. intelligence agencies concluding that the Russian strategy was to boost Trump’s chances. . . .
"Trump’s communications approach has left corporate executives, celebrities, politicians, foreign diplomats and national security brass apprehensive about what he might pop off about — and when. . . . . "
Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, [boasted that] “Donald Trump’s Twitter account is the greatest bully pulpit that has ever existed . . . . In 140 characters, he can change the direction of a Fortune 100 company, he can notify world leaders and he can also notify government agencies that business as usual is over. . . ."
Think of it !! A president Trump firing off a 140 character message and "changing the direction of a Fortune 100 company" -- or perhaps starting a war.
Blind to the danger he poses, Trump prefers to brag about the quality of his twitter writing. He claims that people call him "the Ernest Hemingway of Twitter."
What a revolting, immature. frightening -- and maybe very perversely effective -- form of government by intimidation. There seems no way and no one to stop him, short of impeachment.