This may be the ultimate Trump tweet in that it’s (a) nakedly trollish, (b) at the expense of a waaaaay less powerful political enemy, (c) hard for his critics to get *too* upset about, precisely because it’s facetious (“can’t you take a joke?”), but also (d) the sort of thing right-wing media would have doused itself in gasoline and lit a match over if it had come from Obama or “Crooked.”
The Dow is down 573 points perhaps on the news that Representative Seth Moulton, whoever that may be, has dropped out of the 2020 Presidential Race!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019
The market finished down more than 600 points today. That’s real money in people’s investment accounts up in smoke, a slide driven in part by the president’s own, shall we say, “erratic” behavior. “Am I right that Trump sparked a market tanking, and now is making a stupid joke about it?” asked Tim Carney of the Examiner. “Why would he do that?”
…for the lulz? Why does any troll do what he does?
This one just happens to be president.
Per point (c) above, his friends in the media had to moderate their outrage at the tweet accordingly:
MSNBC is taking Trump's Seth Moulton tweet VERY seriously pic.twitter.com/kWTIFRYsc7
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) August 23, 2019
CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Trump's tweet joking about Dow being down 573 points: "I'm glad this is all funny to the president. Whether it's farmers losing their livelihoods or workers losing part of their hard-earned 401(k)s. It's Hilarious, Mr. President." pic.twitter.com/G1XnI8zfjv
— Contemptor (@TheContemptor) August 23, 2019
Although not all critics were so restrained:
.@sethmoulton received the Bronze Star for valor for “fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire” in battles against Iraqi insurgents.
Donald Trump made up “bone spurs” to avoid service in Viet Nam.https://t.co/wJbwMtB6dx
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) August 23, 2019
What should a reporter do with the sort of tweet Trump sent? Is it news because everything the president says is news by definition, or should they ignore it on the theory that it’s a joke and he is, after all, a troll who’s trying to get a rise out of people? Harrumphing about it only gives him the reaction he’s after. On the other hand, ignoring it means people won’t know that this guy is cracking jokes in public about a market downturn which his own policies and increasingly bizarre tweets engineered.
There should be a chapter on this in the next edition of the AP Stylebook. “Presidential Sh*tposting: What to Do When It Happens to You.”
I’m off to write a hot take that Trump’s apparent brain damage will hurt Biden next year by causing nervous Dem primary voters to focus more closely on his acuity. Exit question via Alex Griswold: The joke would have been funnier if he had omitted the “whoever that may be” bit, no?