NEW: Beware middle management! A never-before-seen KGB training manual, which reads like a cross between Pravda and The Office, explains how disgruntled, underpaid employees in the West were rip for recruiting: https://t.co/JgiNdkjOJX
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) November 3, 2019
The story is members-only, but the teaser tweet did remind me of a certain notorious American personality who’s spent the last quarter-century complaining that nobody appreciates him like he DESERVES…
This story, about “a virtual world in which the president spends significant time mingling with extremists, impostors and spies,“ made me physically ill. https://t.co/PcaTc82Lyd
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 3, 2019
… Mr. Trump, whose own tweets have warned of deep-state plots against him, accused the House speaker of treason and labeled Republican critics “human scum,” has helped spread a culture of suspicion and distrust of facts into the political mainstream.
The president is also awash in an often toxic torrent that sluices into his Twitter account — roughly 1,000 tweets per minute, many intended for his eyes. Tweets that tag his handle, @realDonaldTrump, can be found with hashtags like #HitlerDidNothingWrong, #IslamIsSatanism and #WhiteGenocide. While filters can block offensive material, the president clearly sees some of it, because he dips into the frothing currents and serves up noxious bits to the rest of the world.
By retweeting suspect accounts, seemingly without regard for their identity or motives, he has lent credibility to white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots and obscure QAnon adherents like VB Nationalist, an anonymous account that has promoted a hoax about top Democrats worshiping the Devil and engaging in child sex trafficking…
To assess this unprecedented moment, The New York Times examined Mr. Trump’s interactions with Twitter since he took office, reviewing each of his more than 11,000 tweets and the hundreds of accounts he has retweeted, tracking the ways he is exposed to information and replicating what he is likely to see on the platform. The result, including new data analysis and previously unreported details, offers the most comprehensive view yet of a virtual world in which the president spends significant time mingling with extremists, impostors and spies.
Fake accounts tied to intelligence services in China, Iran and Russia had directed thousands of tweets at Mr. Trump, according to a Times analysis of propaganda accounts suspended by Twitter. Iranian operatives tweeted anti-Semitic tropes, saying that Mr. Trump was “being controlled” by global Zionists, and that pulling out of the Iran nuclear treaty would benefit North Korea. Russian accounts tagged the president more than 30,000 times, including in supportive tweets about the Mexican border wall and his hectoring of black football players. Mr. Trump even retweeted a phony Russian account that said, “We love you, Mr. President!”…
The president gets some of his questionable material on Twitter from the 47 accounts he follows that show up in his feed, a curated timeline of tweets that come mostly from his family, celebrities, Fox News hosts and Republican politicians, some of whom in turn follow Twitter accounts that promote QAnon or express anti-Islam or white nationalist views.
QAnon-related accounts have potentially migrated to the president’s iPhone courtesy of retweets by Donald Trump Jr., the Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo and the conservative commentator Eric Bolling, all of whom Mr. Trump follows. The younger Mr. Trump has also retweeted Russian intelligence operatives pushing divisive stories about immigration and voter fraud…
Beyond the people he follows, there is another potential pathway to the president on Twitter — his “mentions,” the surging stream of tweets and replies that are directed at him by tagging his handle.
Fake accounts that Twitter identified as being run by foreign intelligence agencies have made frequent use of this tactic to try to get his attention: Russian accounts targeted Mr. Trump with tweets making the false assertion that Russia did not hack the Democratic National Committee’s emails. A Chinese account directed a tweet at him calling CNN “goofy commies.” And an Iranian account heckled him, saying, “Every morning that American people wakeup, they are nervous about your new tweets.”…
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) November 2, 2019
Amazing interactive content here:
“Fewer than one-fifth of his followers are voting-age Americans, according to a Times analysis.” https://t.co/lOL1hwtgPL
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 2, 2019
… Early on, top aides wanted to restrain the president’s Twitter habit, even considering asking the company to impose a 15-minute delay on Mr. Trump’s messages. But 11,390 presidential tweets later, many administration officials and lawmakers embrace his Twitter obsession, flocking to his social media chief with suggestions. Policy meetings are hijacked when Mr. Trump gets an idea for a tweet, drawing in cabinet members and others for wordsmithing. And as a president often at war with his own bureaucracy, he deploys Twitter to break through logjams, overrule or humiliate recalcitrant advisers and pre-empt his staff.
In a presidency unlike any other, where Mr. Trump wakes to Twitter, goes to bed with it and is comforted by how much it revolves around him, the person he most often singled out for praise was himself — more than 2,000 times, according to an analysis by The New York Times…
As much as anything, Twitter is the broadcast network for Mr. Trump’s parallel political reality — the “alternative facts” he has used to spread conspiracy theories, fake information and extremist content, including material that energizes some of his base.
Mr. Trump’s use of Twitter has accelerated sharply since the end of the special counsel’s Russia investigation and reached a new high as Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry, the analysis shows…
His top campaign aides are embracing the outrage that Mr. Trump stirs with his tweets to reinforce his anti-establishment brand and strengthen his bond with the fiercely loyal supporters who propelled him into office. And as public backing for impeachment grows, the president is using the platform to build a defensive echo chamber…
Trump has the impulse control of an overtired toddler.
Zero chance he has thoughts which he manages to keep unexpressed for weeks. https://t.co/CLwC0CMJR9
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@HoarseWisperer) November 2, 2019
Very high chance, though, that he stews over every ‘attack’ on his perceived greatness, coming up with increasingly And another thing!… responses to salve his fragile ego and get boosted by his (real & fake) followers:
Like the bully he is, the President is always trying to imply that he has some killer moment waiting for his enemies, when in fact what he's doing, every time, is making stuff up out of sweaty fear and panicky stupidity. https://t.co/df7rlZVVXE
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) November 3, 2019