After tearing into media executives at a meeting on Monday and abruptly canceling a meeting with the New York Times via Twitter on Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump is using yet another tool to strip the traditional news media of their power and relevance: social media.
Skipping the normal press conferences, televised addresses, or other conventional ways presidents talk to the people, Trump took to YouTube — just like he did in 2012 to demand President Obama cough up his papers — to pledge to make good on some campaign promises.
Trump also used Twitter to bypass the news media on Tuesday. The Times only learned Trump had bailed on their meeting plans when he announced the decision on Twitter. (He then uncanceled the meeting.)
Trump’s efforts to bypass media organizations and talk directly to the people has precedent. In the 19th century politicians on whistle-stop tours traveled by train to make their cases to constituents. In the 1930s and ’40s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt used a relatively new technology — the radio — for “fireside chats” with the American people.
While Obama also used YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools, Trump is making them his main way of communicating with the public. He has used Twitter to lash out at the Times, the “crooked media,” and the cast of Hamilton, in ways the news media couldn’t dilute, edit or contextualize.
Many who follow Trump’s tweets, including the Times editorial board, have questioned his priorities, wondering why he hasn’t called out people who carried out bigoted attacks in his name as vociferously as he has criticized the “Hamilton” cast.
Trump made a gesture of inclusiveness in his YouTube address, ending it by saying he would be a president of everyone — “and I mean everyone.”
That inclusivity is exactly what the “Hamilton” cast asked of Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence — which is what prompted Trump’s castigation of the cast.