By Alex Bregman
As unpredictable as the Trump presidency has been, one thing that has been steady is President Trump’s Twitter feed.
While he’s not the first president to use Twitter, he’s certainly changed the way presidents communicate directly with the American people.
He’s not ashamed to admit that he knows the power of Twitter and takes advantage of it. He told “60 Minutes” after the 2016 election: “It’s a modern form of communication. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. It’s where it’s at.”
That’s despite some Republicans wishing he would put down his phone, including Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who told Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, “Look, if I were advising President Trump, I’d say, ‘Put your Twitter account on hold and make sure that you are not sending out this storm of tweets before you are sure of your facts.’”
Twitter is nothing new for President Trump. As a private citizen, he sent out his first tweet in 2009, promoting his appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”
On the 2016 campaign trail he used it to take jabs at his opponents on both sides of the aisle, and since taking office not much has changed. Despite having won, he still goes at Hillary Clinton and his fellow Republicans, not to mention his self-proclaimed enemy number one: the media.
So how does President Trump taking his message to the American people compare to past presidents?
President Franklin Roosevelt famously held fireside chats — radio addresses to the American people he began in 1933, during one of the country’s darkest times.
President Dwight Eisenhower held televised fireside chats and gave the first televised presidential news conference. He even installed a TV studio in the White House.
Then there’s the weekly presidential address. In the tradition of FDR, President Reagan began delivering weekly radio addresses every Saturday, famously making this statement during a sound check in 1984: “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”
President George W. Bush was the first to go from radio to podcast, and President Obama was the first to make the radio address into a weekly video. But Obama also took to other forms of communication, including humor — his appearances ranged from “Funny or Die” to “The Tonight Show.”
So through chats, laughs or hashtags, Presidents have always looked for the newest and fastest ways to get their messages across to the American people. When it comes to why President Trump loves communicating in 140 characters or less, at least you can say, now I get it.
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