Early Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump rushed to Twitter in a rage and proclaimed that he was prepared to “strongly regulate, or close… down” social media companies in retaliation for their supposed bias against conservatives. One particular spark for his rants seems to have been Twitter’s decision to attach a fact-check to his own recent conspiracy-riddled post about mail-in voting, which the president has lied and insisted allows for massive election fraud. On the White House lawn this Wednesday, longtime Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway adamantly defended the president’s meltdown, indicating just how dedicated that the whole Trump team has become in their war on facts.
Trump's latest lies about Twitter and voter fraud aren't just deranged. They're an *abuse of power.* Trump is threatening retribution to facilitate voter suppression *and* to discourage the sharing of concrete information that could save lives. New piece:https://t.co/A9qM2Zq7RY
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) May 27, 2020
Reality is not a matter of political opinion. If the president is lying, as he was about mail-in voting in the post which Twitter attached a fact-check to, no amount of political pontificating will change that. But that’s exactly what Conway melodramatically tried to do.
Asked about what action that the president was prepared to actually launch against social media companies, she told reporters:
‘Twitter can not suppress voices, and others can not suppress votes. That’s part of our democracy. I think the president was saying that conservatives for a very long time have felt that social media could give them the voice that they don’t have in mainstream media… Many people look at social media as the democratization of information for them. Their ability to participate in democracy as they eventually do at the ballot box. So the president is saying, please stop suppressing conservative voices… and they need to do that… Using outlets that are.. proudly anti-Trump to fact-check the president was probably the richest piece of the whole thing.’
Check it out below:
Kellyanne Conway: "Twitter cannot suppress voices and others can't suppress votes." pic.twitter.com/NIyq2azxmJ
— The Hill (@thehill) May 27, 2020
The idea that at least in part because of Twitter’s decision to attach a fact-check to Trump’s lie-filled tweet they’re “suppressing voices” is laughably ridiculous. Quite simply, Conway is behaving as if basic facts and those sharing them with the world are together part of some conspiracy to make the president look bad. It’s all in the service of the president’s monumentally fragile ego — his insistence upon flipping out in response to even the slightest opposition isn’t exactly a secret.
This is all because Twitter fact-checked Trump’s obvious lies about mail-in voting https://t.co/LPA4EJh3W2
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 27, 2020
This Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted:
‘Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!’
What does the president mean by “big action”? Who knows. Does he even know, or is he just trying to sound dramatic?
Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
Ironically, on the very same morning that Trump threatened to shut down social media companies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confidently tweeted about the supposed U.S. commitment to internet freedom around the world.
‘The U.S. stands against, and will not tolerate, government-imposed Internet shutdowns and other forms of censorship during or after this pandemic. We join @FO_Coalition ’s call to promote and protect #InternetFreedom at all times.’
Irony dies a lonely death https://t.co/N5euuKeCbL
— Trading Places Research (@LookingGdLouis) May 27, 2020
A large slew of Twitter commenters pointed out the irony in Pompeo’s remarks, which directly contradict the behavior from the current president of the United States, who acts like a wannabe despot.
Pompeo and his staff are going to feel pretty stupid when foreign governments respond by sending him Trump's tweets threatening to crush Twitter with regulations in retaliation for exercising its right as a private organization to engage in free speech. https://t.co/KfHAC0xqTk
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) May 27, 2020