WASHINGTON (AP) – @realDonaldTrump, the Twitter show that turned from a random reflection of a reality TV star into a stick of the American president, died on Friday. He was not 12 years old.
The provocative handle was born to a New York real estate mogul who used it to help him become the 45th president of the United States. It began with a tweet on May 4, 2009, 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 mob that besieged congressional halls in a deadly attack as lawmakers had to attest to his defeat.
The account suffered its death when Twitter announced on Friday that it was pulling the plug permanently on @realDonaldTrump, citing fears that Trump would use it to “further incite violence.”
Trump, a novice politician but an experienced salesman, realized the power of social media in ways few other politicians have. And he is using it with unprecedented force to reduce 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 extensive experience in marketing casinos, real estate and even Oreos, used the platform mostly to promote his books, media appearances and handing out friendly caps to friends.
But when Trump began to flirt with the White House, he became an instrument for burning opponents and shaping his nationalist philosophy, “America First.”
He spread his poison equally, whether he insulted enemies of celebrities (Rosie O’Donnell was “rude, rude, nasty and stupid”) or used xenophobia to discredit the country (Britain “is trying hard to cover up their massive Muslim problem”) .
Peter Costanzo, then director of online marketing for the publishing company that publishes Trump’s book, Think Like a Champion, helped bring Trump to the platform.
At the time, Twitter was still in its infancy. But Costanzo, who later came to work for The Associated Press, saw the 140-character message platform as a new tool the real estate mogul could use to boost sales and reach a wider audience.
Costanzo was given seven minutes to introduce himself to Trump – “Not five minutes, not 10”, he recalled in a 2016 interview.
Trump liked what he heard.
“I said, ‘Let’s call you @realDonaldTrump – you’re the real Donald Trump,'” Costanzo recalled. He thought for a minute and said, “I like it. Let’s do this.'”
Except for Trump’s family, no one seemed beyond his anger on Twitter. Trump has attacked Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, 2016 political rivals, current administration officials, former administration officials, the Republican Party, and cable networks.
@realDonaldTrump was prolific: In the days when its owner was particularly excited, for example in the midst of impeachment proceedings, he pushed out over 100 tweets.
In its most popular tweet on October 2, 2020, @realDonaldTrump announced that Trump and First Lady Melania Trump developed from a coronavirus. The post has 1.8 million likes and nearly 400,000 retweets, according to Factba.se, which tracks the president’s habits and comments on social media.
The account was used to announce layoffs. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned of his download on Twitter.
The bill threatened opponents with the most colorful words. Before Trump “fell in love” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un through secretly exchanged letters, Trump used Twitter to call him a “rocket carrier” and promised to respond with “fire and fury” if the authoritarian dared to attack the United States.
@realDonaldTrump often spreads misleading, false and malicious allegations, such as the baseless idea that protesters at Judge Brett Cavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were paid by liberal philanthropist George Soros and that the November election was rigged by the election.
Trump often tweeted well after midnight and before dawn, a cathartic way out of complaints (Witch Hunt! Hillary Curve, Russia, Russia, Russia, FALSE NEWS, etc.) For the most part @realDonaldTrump and its 280 character posts effectively allowed Trump to work around the media outlet in Washington and expand the Allied message.
Sometimes @realDonaldTrump stumbled. Trump deleted 1,166 tweets and in his last months on the platform had 471 tweets marked by Twitter for misinformation, according to Factba.se
In one of the most memorable stumbling blocks on Twitter in May 2017, Trump sent (and later deleted and) a mysterious tweet after midnight that read “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”
The beating set fire to Twitterverse with speculation. Theories include that the chief caveman fell 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 describe the secret agreement between Democrats and the press.
The mystery was never solved.
Sam Nunberg, a longtime and now former Trump adviser, said that in the summer of 2011, after Trump announced he was not running in 2012 but wanted to stay current, his team decided to start using social media. media to improve your account.
They chose to focus on Twitter, where he already had an account and several hundred thousand followers. Nunberg recalls sending daily reports to Trump on the growth of his followers. Trump sometimes returned it with handwritten notes – “Why not more?” “Why so slowly?”
They celebrated when they reached the million mark.
“Twitter definitely played a key role in building Donald Trump as a political figure in Republican politics, and he liked it a lot,” Nunberg said. “Remember, he said, ‘I wanted to own a newspaper. That’s great, it’s like a lossless newspaper. “
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., took to Twitter shortly after the platform banned @realDonaldTrump, noting that he continues to allow Iran’s supreme leader “and many other dictatorial regimes” to use the platform, but cannot to stick to his father.
“Mao will be proud,” mocked Trump Jr.
In the end, @realDonaldTrump offered a momentary glimpse into Trump’s state of mind for more than a decade, a period in which TV star Apprentice became the 45th president of the United States.
On the way when historians look for Trump’s thoughts on the problems of his time – everything from actress Kristen Stewart’s attitude to co-star Robert Pattinson to the president’s views on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election – the first stop may inevitably to be one of the many digital archives that have preserved the @realDonaldTrump tweets.
With Trump, whatever the topic, there is always a tweet about it.
Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Nancy Benak and Zack Miller contributed to the reports.