Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Stories about President Trump's photo op at St. John's church after peaceful protesters were forcefully cleared from the area averaged the most online attention of any issue about the president this week.

Why it matters: Trump's force-over-compassion approach to the demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd had Republican allies backpedaling to keep a distance — and led to a wave of condemnations that got plenty of online traction on their own.

The blowback against Trump was strong and swift all week:

While the photo op generated the most average interactions, the fallout after Twitter placed a warning label on Trump's "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" tweet for glorifying violence generated the most total interactions, according to NewsWhip data.

  • That's largely due to the volume of stories on the topic. There were 7x as many items written about Trump and Twitter and other social media platforms as there were about the stroll to St. John's.

Between the lines: Trump seemingly backed himself into a corner all week long, but gave some room for his Republican allies to stand with him in his fight against Twitter.

  • Trump and his allies accused Twitter of overreaching and asked why similar measures weren't taken against leaders of authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world.
  • He then signed an executive order aiming to shield social media companies from liability for content users post to their platforms.
  • But in private, allies warned Trump that the tweet could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported.

The bottom line: Trump's already sliding political standing does not appear to be improving. 67% think Trump has mostly increased racial tensions in the country, according to a new NPR/PBS/Marist poll.

Go deeper

The cracks in Trump’s GOP shield

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President Trump’s mockery of coronavirus masks, his false claims about the dangers of voting by mail and his insinuations that a cable TV nemesis was involved in a murder are testing more high-profile Republicans' willingness to look the other way.

The big picture: Republicans learned a long time ago how dangerous it is to alienate Trump’s base — which is why any hint of disagreement, even a whisper, is so remarkable when it happens.

How an impeached Trump wins

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President Trump is showing how he could be impeached, survive and still win re-election, something never done before in American history.

Between the lines: Trump officials think two things must unfold for this to happen: Republicans must stay unified, in votes and voice, and the economy must be strong, in jobs and market returns. The trends are strong on both fronts.

Competitors ready to pounce on TikTok bans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Growing security and privacy concerns over Chinese-owned short-video app TikTok have given a lift to alternatives like Byte and Dubsmash, which have seen spikes in downloads from smartphone users recently, according to data from SensorTower.

Why it matters: If TikTok's meteoric rise in popularity among U.S. youth gets slowed by rising tensions with China, or ended by a threatened ban by the Trump administration, American teens will still have to get their hits of meme-laden video somewhere.