Trump doesn’t miss a beat as Twitter’s Media Critic in Chief

December 20, 2016
Andreas Eldh (Creative Commons)

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”

One of the president-elect’s most frequent targets is “the media.” Despite garnering $5 billion in free airtime during the campaign, Trump has made it clear he’s no fan of the mainstream press.

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“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.

“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.


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.


Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.