Apr 3, 2017

​Trump 101: Trump tweets — backfire and blanks

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

When President-elect Trump was preparing to move to the White House, some of his aides and security experts conspired to impose more guardrails on his raw, prolific tweeting.

"They tried everything in the book," a top campaign official recalled. Some members of Trump's inner circle feared that what was an undeniable asset during the campaign — the power of authentic, direct communication — might become a mixed blessing as the leader of the free world.

How right they were. Trump has continued tweeting just as before, and the result has been a dilution of the impact — a bit of a "boy who cried wolf" effect. As an example, a former aide cited Trump's repeat this week of his "change libel laws?" crusade. The tweet got little attention.

"People kind of get that's he's messing with them," the former aide said.

  • Trump's view: When the President held a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in mid-March, a German reporter asked Trump whether he regrets any tweets in hindsight. "Very seldom," was Trump's reply. And he added what is undoubtedly true — that he "probably wouldn't be here right now" were it not for his use of social media during the campaign.
  • The tradeoff: Twitter helped Trump kill his primary opponents, and allowed him to circumvent negative mainstream media coverage during the campaign. As president, though, his weapon of choice has inflicted wounds on himself as well as his adversaries. ("So-called" federal judge, anyone? Key news organizations as "the enemy of the American people"?)
  • The damage: Twitter has been the source of Trump's most persistent controversies. Remember, the whole fiasco with Rep. Devin Nunes and the House intelligence committee began with an unsubstantiated Saturday morning tweetstorm in which Trump accused President Obama of illegally wiretapping him. Trump couldn't have thought much about the gravity of these tweets, because he followed them with a jab at Arnold's "pathetic" ratings on "The Apprentice," then hit the golf course.
  • Public skepticism: Trump's most ardent fans love his tweeting, but most voters don't. A Quinnipiac poll found 59% of voters think Trump should get rid of his Twitter. Trump's approval ratings are worse at this point than any President in the era of political polling (back to Harry Truman, according to FiveThirtyEight).
  • Fear factor wanes: Republican House members used to tell us how their biggest fear was Trump going after them on Twitter. We hear less of that now, and members are beginning to openly mock Trump.
  • Bottom line: It's hard to think of a time Twitter has helped Trump since the inauguration. And it's distracting him from better use of a medium with a bigger reach: TV.

Go deeper

Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by late Saturday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 664,608 — Total deaths: 30,846 — Total recoveries: 140,156.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 124,377 — Total deaths: 2,190 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Trump rules out quarantine in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut after pushback

President Trump on the White House grounds on Saturdya. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Saturday night that he's decided not to introduce quarantine enforcement measures fo New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut, but a "strong" travel advisory will be issued for those states. The CDC later announced domestic travel restrictions for the states.

Why it matters: Trump said hours earlier he was considering quarantine measures to combat the rise in novel coronavirus cases. But he received pushback, notably from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who told CNN such a measure would cause "chaos." "This would be a federal declaration of war on states," Cuomo added.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health