Former President Donald Trump was reinstated to Twitter last month after 15 million of the social media site’s users were polled, asking whether they believed Trump should be reinstated. A slim majority, 51.8 percent of users, voted in favor of reinstating Trump.
“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, tweeted.
Yet Trump indicated that he had no interest in returning to Twitter, suggesting instead that he would stick with his own social media platform, Truth Social.
Now, as Trump’s presidential campaign gears up for a run in what will likely be a contested GOP field, the question is being posed: can Trump win without the use of Twitter?
Yes, Trump can definitely win without being on Twitter. I’m not suggesting he will win, either the GOP nomination or the general election, but whether he does will not relate to his presence on Twitter.
The Benefits of Twitter
The benefits of Twitter are obvious.
Users can amplify their voices to millions of people. And the format of Twitter is perfect for the modern audience. Twitter is a microblogging site, which caps posts to a few hundred characters. The result is a superficial, easily digestible product that modern audiences (whose attention spans have been decimated by TikTok, Instagram, three-minute pop songs, and shit movies) find palatable.
Operating within the microblogging format, skilled operators like Trump (or AOC) can present complex issues as super simple. This perfectly suits the hyper-partisanship of our time. A guy like Trump can use Twitter to dismiss sprawling left-wing policies with a single word. Sad! AOC can do the same with a hashtag. #sexism!
Basically, Twitter is perfectly calibrated for a guy like Trump.
Trump Without Twitter
But Trump doesn’t need Twitter, or his 87.8 million Twitter followers, to get his message out. While Twitter has become the world’s de facto public square (a status that Musk’s acquisition perhaps threatens), Trump’s message is always going to get out. Why? Because the mainstream media is always going to relay Trump’s message.
Take, for example, Trump’s posts on Truth Social – a social media backwater. Most posts on Truth Social are not amplified, certainly not in the way that a tweet is on Twitter. But when Trump posts on Truth Social, CNN then tells you what Trump posted on Truth Social. Hell, I’ve done it here on 19FortyFive. Trump’s social media posts are going to get amplified, even if the chain of amplification is indirect.
The Media and Trump
Regardless of whether Trump is using Twitter or any other social media platform, the mainstream broadcast and print media are going to make sure you, the general public, are intimately aware of every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth.
Because Trump is ultimately, without question, the media’s one and only golden boy.
The media loves to hate on Trump. I understand why. Trump is a general menace. But what might be obscured in the way the media endlessly Trump-bashes, is how deeply enamored the media is with Trump. The media doesn’t just love to hate on Trump, the media loves Trump. No one drives clicks, hits, or subscriptions like Trump. The media covers Trump incessantly because Trump pays the bills like never before.
The point is: Trump doesn’t need social media to get his message amplified. Because the media is going to broadcast every syllable that slips out of Trump’s mouth, or from his fingers. The entire institution of media has recalibrated itself to cover Trump first and foremost. Trump is the media’s sun, the gravity source that everything is centered around.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.