May 27, 2020

Trump Tweets

Twitter Inc said on Tuesday it would take no action at this time on tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump about the 2001 death of a former congressional staff member for Joe Scarborough, after her widower asked the company to remove them for furthering false claims… Timothy J. Klausutis asked that the company remove a tweet by the president ‘alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough.’... Later in the day, Twitter for the first time prompted readers to check the facts in tweets sent by Trump, warning readers his claims about mail-in ballots were false and had been debunked by fact checkers.” Reuters

Both sides condemn the tweets about Scarborough:

“Mr. Trump always hits back at critics, and Mr. Scarborough has called the President mentally ill, among other things. But suggesting that the talk-show host is implicated in the woman’s death isn’t political hardball. It’s a smear. Mr. Trump rightly denounces the lies spread about him in the Steele dossier, yet here he is trafficking in the same sort of trash. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, had it right when he tweeted on the weekend: ‘Completely unfounded conspiracy. Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.’”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

There aren't two sides on this one. This isn't health care. Or taxes. Or even media criticism. This is the tragic death of a young woman, and a family that is being further traumatized by a President too selfish and too cruel to see what he is doing…

“At root, this is about human decency. Do we want to live in a world in which a powerful person can use the death of a private individual to score political points? Is that the sort of thing that we now are willing to say is OK, roll our eyes and chalk it up to ‘politics?’ Not me. There's a line that we as citizens of this country and the world -- and not of any political party -- need to draw. Always. And this is way, way over it.”
Chris Cillizza, CNN

“Trump is clearly driven by his desire to say the most malicious and painful things he can about Scarborough, to take revenge for the former congressman’s now obsessively anti-Trump morning program. The president maintains he doesn’t watch, although this is plainly untrue. The collateral damage is the family of Lori Klausutis, who had to endure her sudden loss and now watch helplessly as the president pushes a deception about her death for his own petty purposes. It’s unworthy of a partisan blogger, let alone the president of the United States.”
The Editors, National Review

“Trump is sending out tweets promoting a false conspiracy theory and also retweeting misogynistic content while the US is in the middle of a pandemic. His goal is to ‘punish’ Joe Scarborough, incite his base, and to distract the public… Count how many tweets he has denigrating others (including falsely accusing them of murder), and how many tweets he has disseminating helpful information to the public about the pandemic. That ratio speaks volumes.”
Stephanie Sarkis, Forbes

Other opinions below.

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From the Left

“Obviously a wise and strategic president would not be doing this. The sane strategy for maximizing Trump’s reelection odds would be to manage the public-health response to the pandemic while taking advantage of a Democratic Congress willing to spend almost unlimited sums to pump stimulus into the economy… In place of effective governance, he is counting on partisanship to polarize the race, keeping it close enough that he can eke out another win by demonizing his opponent. A crucial element of Trump’s polarization method is to suppress all internal dissent…

“While some conservatives may wish to dissent from a handful of discrete claims that Trump makes… they do not wish to discredit him writ large. They need Trump to remain a credible platform from which to launch attacks against Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and other enemies. If conservative elites conceded that Trump is not merely a boor who occasionally goes too far, but a habitual and remorseless liar, they would gravely damage his ability to discipline fellow Republicans by smearing them. To do so would gravely undercut their own party and an administration that continues to serve the conservative movement faithfully.”
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a president who began his political career as the leader of the racist birther movement, which falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama was not born in the US and was thus ineligible for office, would deal so frequently in conspiracy theories

“Those critical of the platform’s exceptions for leaders argue that there is a very easy thing Twitter could do to spare pain to families like Klausutis’s: It could simply decide to enforce its own current policies to everyone equally — including Trump. That would mean deleting tweets, suspending the user, or labeling false content from politicians as misleading. In the case of Trump’s Scarborough tweets, Twitter has chosen not to do so. And in making that choice, it has enabled the president to use the platform as a way to target his political enemies with no apparent regard for consequences — because, at least for the moment, there are none.”
Katelyn Burns, Vox

“While it is impossible to stop the endless distribution of a screenshot of the tweets, taking the original ones down would send a strong message that this behavior is not tolerated. Or, if he must, Mr. Dorsey could set up an independent content board as Facebook has recently done, which could take on thorny questions like this and remove them from his purview. This might seem like a cop-out, but putting these questions up for a more measured debate might be the exit that the company needs to focus on the rest of its business.”
Kara Swisher, New York Times

“The solution in this case is simple: Delete the demonstrably false tweets — which clearly violate Twitter’s own policies — and allow the family of Klausutis its privacy and its dignity. The fact that her widower should have to even make his anguished plea public — and the fact that Twitter has, so far, shrugged it off — speaks to the moral bankruptcy of our hyperpolarized age.”
Sewell Chan, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

When Trump is singled out for his outrageous comments, while Joe Biden gets portrayed as an avuncular goofball for decades of horrifying behavior, it starts to make sense why Trump voters can’t be bothered to care. In 2012, Biden told black voters Mitt Romney was going to ‘put y’all back in chains’...

“Since Biden started running for president in 2020, he has actually threatened to hit another voter who questioned him about his campaign’s addled position on gun rights. He’s also called a voter fat and a liar, and challenged him to an IQ test because he had the audacity to ask Biden about his son’s suspect million-dollars-a-year at a dodgy Ukrainian gas company…

“A U.S. senator read into the congressional record accusations, wholly without evidence, that an honorable and accomplished man is a gang-rapist for no reason other than that fair democratic elections have rendered them politically impotent to stop his nomination to the Supreme Court… When nearly every major news agency in the country is implicated in the vicious social media pile-on and physical threats directed at a Catholic high school kid for the crime of wearing a MAGA hat, to the point outlets such as CNN are quietly settling libel suits, you start to see why Trump voters are nonplussed right now.”
Mark Hemingway, The Federalist

“We suppose there are some Trump followers who enjoy this. The libs say horrible things about you, go ahead and say terrible things about them! There is a difference, though, between mocking someone’s ratings and hurting an innocent family with the memories of their tragic daughter because of a petty feud. A much larger portion of Trump’s support, we’d wager, are people who like his policies and brush off his personality — or try to…

“But is that really the president you want to be, sir? The president for whom people disregard half or even most of what you say as irrelevant? Tuesday was a good day — the economy showed signs of life, lockdowns were ending. You gave the press something else to talk about, and trust us, you did not look like the bigger man. You might be making your enemies angry, but you’re making allies tune out. There’s something worse than being hated. It’s being ignored.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“Even with a pandemic, Trump can easily run for reelection by reminding voters that he turned the slowest economic recovery since World War II into one of the best economies in generations, and he's fully capable of doing it again. He can let Biden word vomit all over himself and let the Chinese Communist Party take center stage as the villain of 2020…

“The Biden campaign's entire reason for existing rests on the assumption that regardless of policy, Trump is too unhinged and unstable for voters to give him another four years of power, and that Biden is uniquely positioned to bring some normalcy and decorum back to the Oval Office. Trump has every reason in the world to be besting Biden right now, and instead, he's tweeting deranged conspiracy theories that confirm the central tenet of the case for ousting him from the White House.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

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