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The New York Times’ Amy Chozick argued that President-elect Donald Trump should be given credit for using Twitter as he continues to avoid the press, normalizing his tweets as “refreshing” and ignoring the fact that Trump’s tweets have dangerously breached international precedent, swung stock prices, and promoted neo-Nazis, among other embarrassments.
On the December 27 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, Chozick joined a panel with Azi Paybarah of Politico and Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics to discuss Trump’s recent Twitter use. Chozick conceded that a president-elect should explain his policy positions in “more than 140 characters,” but still argued Trump deserves “a little bit of credit” for using Twitter to speak to his supporters because, according to her, President Barack Obama struggled to speak to his supporters early in his presidency.
Chozick went on to compare Trump’s reckless and amateurish approach to presidential communications with Obama’s, who she criticized as being “more thoughtful and careful about everything,” seeming to consider Obama's approach a negative characteristic in a president. As for Trump, she described his Twitter use as “refreshing.”
But Trump’s temperamental outbursts in 140 characters or less are far from praiseworthy by any reasonable standard and should not be a form of presidential communication or policy-making indulged -- or normalized -- by the press as Chozick suggested.
As Greg Sargent explained in The Washington Post, arms control experts noted that Trump could exacerbate nuclear tensions in an international crisis if his tweets are interpreted incorrectly, such as when he recently tweeted that he wanted to “greatly strengthen and expand” the United States’ “nuclear capability.” Trump has already caused a serious strain in the U.S. relationship with one major nuclear power -- China -- after he bizarrely tweeted that he took an unprecedented call from the Taiwanese President (followed by several tweets attacking China).
Trump has also used Twitter to bully American companies and citizens into submitting to his poorly reasoned demands and embracing his falsehoods. Trump sent the stocks of Lockheed Martin and Boeing into a freefall at various times earlier this month when he tweeted that he was going to cancel Boeing’s contract for the new Air Force One over cost and, later, Lockheed Martin’s over the cost of the F-35 fighter jet. In addition, after Trump falsely claimed he was saving 1,100 jobs at a Carrier factory in Indiana, he used his account to attack Chuck Jones, a union boss at the Carrier plant who pointed out that many people were still losing their jobs, prompting many Trump supporters to send death threats to Jones and his family.
Trump has also outrageously used Twitter to mainstream dangerous hate and bigotry by consistently retweeting white nationalist and “alt-right” Twitter accounts. During his campaign, Trump retweeted several neo-Nazi and white nationalist sympathizing twitter accounts, including one with the handle @WhiteGenocideTM, which according to ThinkProgress, “tweets obsessively about white women allegedly being raped by various minority groups.”
Chozick’s defense of Trump is another example of how media figures are normalizing Trump’s hostility toward and complete disregard for the press. Time and again since the election, Trump has broken serious norms, with members of the press enabling his behavior by sanitizing his ties to extremists, echoing his lies, and whitewashing his comments.
Watch the full segment below: