Donald Trump operates his Twitter feed as a virtual Statler and Waldorf, casting judgment on the media and individual journalists like a Muppet in the rafters. Trumpian tweets often appear soon after a negative story has run about him or his business, especially in the case of cable news, hinting at the president-elect’s viewing habits (lots of CNN). Occasionally, Trump dispenses plaudits for a piece, but he is more likely to hiss and boo, heckling journalists from his perch.
American presidents have long made their media preferences known. Richard Nixon spent Sunday afternoons watching the NFL; Barack Obama snagged advanced screeners of HBO’s Game of Thrones. But never have we had a leader so interested—some might say obsessed—with journalistic critiques. At CJR, we’ve combed through Trump’s 189 (and counting…) tweets since the election, focusing on those that highlight his touchy takes on the press.
The media tries so hard to make my move to the White House, as it pertains to my business, so complex - when actually it isn't!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
If the press would cover me accurately & honorably, I would have far less reason to "tweet." Sadly, I don't know if that will ever happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 5, 2016
Prior to the election it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world.Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016
“The failing (fill in the blank)”
More often, however, Trump targets specific outlets. He is especially critical of the “failing” New York Times. On the television side, the president-elect has set CNN in his sights, and despite hosting the variety show in November of 2015, Trump bears no love for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue - FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2016
Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016
I thought that @CNN would get better after they failed so badly in their support of Hillary Clinton however, since election, they are worse!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
The failing @nytimes just announced that complaints about them are at a 15 year high. I can fully understand that - but why announce?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes. In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
I cancelled today's meeting with the failing @nytimes when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show - nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
The failing @nytimes story is so totally wrong on transition. It is going so smoothly. Also, I have spoken to many foreign leaders.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2016
The @nytimes sent a letter to their subscribers apologizing for their BAD coverage of me. I wonder if it will change - doubt it?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2016
Wow, the @nytimes is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the "Trump phenomena"— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2016
“No talent” reporters
In perhaps the most disturbing twist of his Twitter timeline, Trump has continued his campaign practice of singling out individual journalists. Vanity Fair Editor in Chief Graydon Carter and CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny have both been targeted after producing coverage to which Trump objected.
Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine. Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
On occasion, Trump has bestowed his munificence on the media, though usually in reaction to stories that reflect positively on him or his decisions. Praise tends to fall to one outlet above the rest.
Thank you to Time Magazine and Financial Times for naming me "Person of the Year" - a great honor!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
A very interesting read. Unfortunately, so much is true.https://t.co/ER2BoM765M— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2016
.@FoxNews will be re-running "Objectified: Donald Trump," the ratings hit produced by the great Harvey Levin of TMZ, at 8:00 P.M. Enjoy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016
'Donald Trump is already helping the working class' https://t.co/GTuNcQhLYx— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2016
'Jeff Sessions, a Fitting Selection for Attorney General'https://t.co/LjKTkAZSFy— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016