This probably worked out best for Gab, which already had enough problems as it was. According to CNN, aides in the White House made plans to get around social media blockades on Twitter and Facebook by moving to platforms more popular with populists and extremists. A potential move to Parler got pre-empted by Amazon after they took the site off-line, but Gab and other platforms remained open.
That is, until Jared Kushner and Dan Scavino put the kibosh on it:
While Trump has railed against his suspension, telling reporters this week that free speech was under assault, CNN has learned of a new effort by one of his top advisers to keep him from emerging on fringe platforms in place of the major ones he was banned from.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner intervened when other officials tried restoring the President’s social media presence on sites that are often havens for extremists, such as Gab, following an unprecedented ban from several major platforms.
According to an outside adviser and an administration official, Kushner and deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino blocked efforts by other aides, including personnel chief Johnny McEntee, to get the President on fringe social media platforms after he was suspended in some fashion from almost every major one, including Twitter, Facebook and, now, YouTube.
Those officials had initially attempted to use other Twitter accounts, including those run by campaign officials, to tweet in Trump’s name.
That’s pretty interesting, if true. Trump has been rendered essentially silent by the social-media blackouts, but that’s in part because he has yet to avail himself of the bully pulpit at the White House, at least in prepared remarks. (Trump did meet briefly with reporters yesterday.) Perhaps we have become so accustomed to proclamation by tweet that we don’t recall that Trump has a briefing room and a pack of reporters who will carry whatever message he sends to millions of Americans, live. Maybe Trump himself has forgotten that, too; he certainly hasn’t made any move to use that access in any meaningful way.
One has to wonder why Kushner and Scavino want to limit his other options as well, especially Scavino, whose job revolves around social-media management. It might be that they are concerned about amplifying Trump’s connection to the fringe by participating in their preferred platforms. If the plan is to run again in 2024, that kind of association would be counterproductive, especially after the events of the past week. And those platforms might be happy not to get the attention Trump would attract, and give their providers reason to deplatform them as well.
The near-silence out of the West Wing looks like more than just a concern over fringe platforms. Kushner and Scavino might have belatedly decided to impose some message discipline at the White House to preserve order, and to keep from adding to the momentum for a second impeachment and potential removal. Trump created the chaos that led to this moment in large part by stirring it up on social media, and this hangover won’t go away with a hair-of-the-dog solution. The longer Trump stays quiet, the more likely he’ll exit on January 20.
Still, one has to wonder just how Trump’s son-in-law will explain to the boss how he helped cut off social-media outlets of any kind in this crisis. Maybe Gab agreed to donate money to Trump’s re-election campaign? I kid, I kid … kinda.