@realDonaldTrump, the Twitter feed that went from the random musings of a reality TV star to the cudgel of a US president, died on Friday. He was not quite 12 years old.
The provocative handle was birthed by a New York real estate mogul who used it to help him become the 45th President of the United States.
It all started with a May 4, 2009 tweet promoting Donald Trump’s upcoming appearance on David Letterman’s show.
He died more than 57,000 tweets later, with Trump using some of his latest posts on the powerful platform to sympathize with a pro-Trump crowd that besieged the halls of Congress in a deadly assault as lawmakers were on the prowl. point of certifying his defeat.
The account disappeared when Twitter announced on Friday that it was permanently unplugging @realDonaldTrump over concerns that Trump was using it for “further incitement to violence.”
Trump countered that he would “build our own platform in the near future. We will not be reduced to SILENCE! “.
Trump, a rookie politician but a seasoned salesman, realized the power of social media like few other politicians.
And he wielded it with unprecedented power to diminish his opponents, shape elections and shape reality – at least in the eyes of his supporters.
At first, @realDonaldTrump seemed innocent enough.
Its owner, who had a prolific background in marketing casinos, real estate, and even Oreo cookies, used the platform primarily to promote his books, media appearances, and friend friends.
But as Trump began to play seriously with a race for the White House, it became a tool to burn opponents and shape his nationalist, “America First” philosophy.
It deployed its venom equally, whether it was insulting famous enemies (Rosie O’Donnell was “rude, rude, obnoxious and stupid”) or using xenophobia to slander a country (the Britain “trying to cover up its huge Muslim problem”).
A new tool
Peter Costanzo, then director of online marketing for the publishing house that publishes Trump’s book, Think Like a Champion, helped bring Trump to the platform.
Twitter was still in its infancy at the time.
But Costanzo, who later came to work for the Associated Press, saw the then 140-character-per-post platform as a new tool the real estate mogul could use to boost sales and reach a wider audience.
Costanzo had seven minutes to pitch his case to Trump — “Not five minutes, not 10,” he recalled in a 2016 interview.
Trump liked what he heard.
“I said, ‘Let’s call us @realDonaldTrump – you’re the real Donald Trump,'” Costanzo recalled. “He thought about it for a minute and said, ‘I like it. Let’s do it.'”
Aside from Trump’s family, no one seemed immune to his wrath on Twitter. Trump attacked Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, 2016 political rivals, current administration staffers, former administration staffers, the Republican Party and cable networks.
@realDonaldTrump has been prolific: on days when his owner was particularly agitated, such as in the midst of impeachment proceedings, he posted over 100 tweets.
In his most popular tweet on October 2, 2020, @realDonaldTrump announced that Trump and first lady Melania Trump had contracted the coronavirus.
The post got 1.8 million likes and nearly 400,000 retweets, according to Factba.se, which tracks the president’s social media habits and comments.
The account was used to announce layoffs. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned of his withdrawal in a tweet.
The narrative threatened adversaries in the most colorful terms. Before Trump ‘falls in love’ with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un through secretly exchanged letters, Trump took to Twitter to dub him ‘Rocket Man’ and vowed to respond with ‘fire and fury’. if the authoritarian dared to attack the United States.
@realDonaldTrump has frequently aired misleading, false and malicious claims, such as the baseless ideas that protesters at Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were paid by liberal philanthropist George Soros, and that the November election was plagued by electoral fraud.
Trump often tweeted well past midnight and before dawn, a cathartic outlet for grievances (Witch Hunt! Crooked Hillary, Russia, Russia, FAKE NEWS, etc.)
For the most part, @realDonaldTrump and his 280-character messages effectively allowed Trump to bypass the DC media establishment and amplify the allies’ message.
Sometimes @realDonaldTrump stumbled. Trump deleted 1,166 tweets, and in his last few months on the platform, 471 tweets were flagged by Twitter for misinformation, according to Factba.se.
In one of his most memorable Twitter stumbles, Trump in May 2017 sent (and later deleted) a cryptic tweet after midnight that read “Despite constant negative press covfefe”.
The gibberish has ignited the Twitterverse with speculation.
The theories included that the chief tweeter had fallen asleep in the middle of the message and that the man who once boasted of having “the best words” added a new word to the lexicon to correctly describe the collusion between Democrats and the press. .
The mystery was never solved.
‘Why not more?’
Sam Nunberg, a longtime — and now former — adviser to Trump, said in the summer of 2011, after Trump announced he was not running in 2012 but wanted to stay relevant, his team had decided to start using social media to boost his profile.
They chose to focus on Twitter, where he already had an account and several hundred thousand followers. Nunberg recalls sending daily reports to Trump about his subscriber growth.
Trump sometimes returned it with handwritten notes – “Why not more? “Why so slow?”
They celebrated when they hit the million mark.
“Twitter was certainly pivotal in building Donald Trump as a political figure within Republican politics and he enjoyed it very much as well,” Nunberg said. “Remember he used to say, ‘I wanted to own a newspaper. It’s great, it’s like a newspaper without the losses.’”
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, took to Twitter shortly after the platform banned @realDonaldTrump to note that he continues to empower Iran’s supreme leader “and many other dictatorial regimes ” to use the platform, but can’t stand his father.
“Mao would be proud,” mocked Trump Jr.
Ultimately, @realDonaldTrump offered a snapshot of Trump’s state of mind for more than a decade, a period in which the Apprentice TV star transformed into the 45th US President.
Later, when historians seek to gain insight into Trump’s thoughts on the issues of his time – from actress Kristen Stewart’s treatment of co-star Robert Pattinson to the president’s views on Russian interference in the US election 2016 – the first stop could inevitably be one of many digital archives that have preserved @realDonaldTrump tweets.
With Trump, whatever the topic, there’s always a tweet for it.