Donald Trump used his Twitter account to bombard a reporter with a deluge of negative comments, using his position as president to hound a private citizen.
Donald Trump used his social media platform — with 44 million plus followers and the eyes of the world on him — to single out a Washington Post reporter over an innocent mistake.
Trump’s targeted bullying directed thousands of abusive comments to writer Dave Weigel, in another episode of Trump misusing his position.
Trump posted a tweet complaining that Weigel had posted a series of photos calling into question the attendance at his Florida rally.
He wrote, “.@DaveWeigel @WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in.”
Trump added, “Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!”
And then he did get his apology.
Weigel responded to Trump and said, “I apologize. I deleted the photo after @dmartosko told me I’d gotten it wrong. Was confused by the image of you walking in the bottom right corner.”
That was not enough to satisfy Trump. He followed up Weigel’s apology with an even more vindictive tweet, writing, “FAKE NEWS, he should be fired.”
In both of his tweets, Trump specifically included Weigel’s Twitter handle, a tacit sign to his followers to harass the reporter — even after he apologized for his error.
CNN media writer Brian Stelter pointed this out: “By including Dave Weigel’s @ handle, the president’s statement is inviting followers to gang up on a reporter.”
Whipping up an online mob, beside being juvenile and beneath the dignity of the office (at least until he held it) is just another incident in Trump’s rap sheet attacking the free press.
He has repeatedly declared any news he doesn’t like as “fake news,” and his underlings like Kellyanne Conway have said reporters should be “forced” to publish and broadcast stories that are favorable to Trump.
This is how an authoritarian behaves. They insist that they, and only they, have the answers or deserve to be heard from. They attack those who disagree with them, and they seek to destroy anyone who steps out of line.
It is dangerous behavior, coming from the presidential bully pulpit, and also a childish tantrum in front of millions of people.