Donald Trump: The Power of the Tweet
By James Baxley
Donald Trump’s war on the media is a real thing. Trump ordered the media to a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower for what was expected to be a press conference. In the presence of television executives and anchors, including around two dozen anchors and executives from legacy news outlets such as CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and ABC, including Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Gayle King, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?
Did you notice anything missing from this list? The absence of the alternative media. Trump referred to alternative media hosts, journalists, and writers as “info warriors” and has publicly thanked them [alternative media] in spreading the truth and helping him win the presidential race.
The New York Times was quick to lump themselves with the alternative media in the November 10 article, “Online, Everything Is Alternative Media” by John Herrman. Herrman writes, “The pro-Trump media understood that it was an insurgent force in a conversation conducted on social media on an unprecedented scale.”
David Bozell, president of ForAmerica, a conservative nonprofit group describes to Herrman their perceived impact on the election: “Because of our success, we know there are real voters delivering real-time political activism every day on these platforms. The press and the political class, at their own peril, ignored the signs, which is why so many got President-elect Trump’s victory wrong.”
Trump has gone thermonuclear on the media. No political person or public figure has blasted, called-out, or criticized the media in the way Trump has. An example of Trumps criticism came from a rally in West Palm Beach:
“It’s one of the great political phenomenons. The most powerful weapon deployed by the Clintons is the corporate media, the press. Let’s be clear on one thing: The corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They are political special interest no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda — and the agenda is not for you, it’s for themselves. Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it’s a war, and for them, nothing at all is out of bounds. This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me.”
Trump may have a point. The Nieman Lab, a program created by The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University investigates future models that could support quality journalism. The Nieman Lab reports in its self-titled blog Nieman Labthat “Hillary Clinton was endorsed by 229 dailies and 131 weeklies.” Clinton’s endorsements from newspapers include news organizations such as the Dallas Morning News which hadn’t endorsed a Democratic candidate since 1940. The post by Pablo Boczkowski continues, “By contrast, Trump received the endorsement of 9 dailies and 4 weeklies. That’s a 27-to-1 difference.”
It should be clear by now that Trump is the “king of media.” A study by the New York Times shows that Trump received over $2 billion worth of free press coverage during the primaries alone. Trump had effectively used social media to his advantage. For a 70 year-old man, Donald Trump’s social media operation is the envy of the generation which grew up on Facebook and Twitter.
A great example which demonstrates Trump’s social media savviness is his announcement of a campaign appearance. Trump made a post on his Facebook page about a campaign appearance, 14 hours later, his Facebook page had exploded: 92,000 likes, 40,000 loves, and 29,000 shares — and the video included in it had 2.1 million views.
Compare this to Clinton who released a statement on a campaign appearance and only garnered had 14,000 likes, 1,300 loves, and 1,965 shares — and the video included in it had 218,000 views within 12 hours.
Considering the numbers on social media along with the polls, or even in place of polls would’ve been a great indicator of Trump’s standing throughout the election. I believe Trump’s victory wouldn’t had been such a surprise.
The first week of November, the week before the election, Trump’s Facebook page had accumulated 11.9 million likes; his Twitter account had 12.9 million followers. Clinton’s numbers were 7.8 million and 10.1 million, respectively.
Trump’s tweets didn’t just have an effect on the 2016 election as thought. His tweets have had an impact on the stock market and the stocks of individual companies. We saw the “Trump effect” on Boeing’s and Lockheed Martin’s shares when Trump tweeted about the price of the future Air Force One and the future F-35.
“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!,” Trump tweeted. About 18 minutes after the tweet, it had 12,000 likes and 4,300 retweets.
Before Trump’s tweet, shares of Boeing stock had traded unchanged at $152.16; the stock slid to a premarket low of $149.75, down 1.6%.
Less than a week later, Trump tweeted about the F-35 stealth fighter program. The cost is “out of control.” Trump said that “billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases.”
After Trump’s tweet about the cost of the F-35, shares of the aerospace company dropped more than 4 percent but recovered about 2% by the end of the day. The tweet cost Lockheed around $4 billion dollars.
Again Lockheed’s stocks fell after Trump tweeted again (less than 2 weeks after his initial Lockheed tweet) criticizing the F-35.
Lockheed Martin shares fell about 2 percent. Trump’s tweet shaved off about $1.2 billion of Lockheed Martin’s market value.
Trump realizes that papers and TV will pay for access to the Donald. During the campaign he struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcasting, a group that owns or co-owns 173 TV stations across the country. Trump’s deal would offer exclusive interviews in return for unfiltered coverage.
Nobody has had an effect on the fourth estate like Trump has. Even the self-stylized “king of all media” Howard Stern’s tweets never had an effect on the Military Industrial Complex or caused the stock market to react negatively.