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WH Defends Trump's Tenacious Tweeting

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No, Pres.-Elect Donald Trump does not Tweet too much, White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday when asked if he’d advise Trump to cut back on his use of Twitter.

Trump has a history of expressing controversial views and policies on Twitter, such as when he suggested this week that flag-burning should be criminalized.

Earnest defended Trump’s frequent use of Twitter after commenting on the president-elect’s Tweet on flag-burning. Earnest was asked if he was suggesting that it would be wise for Trump to rely less on Twitter to communicate his policies.

“I don’t mean to do that,” Earnest replied, adding that "President Obama has found Twitter to be a useful mechanism for communicating with the American public and providing some insight to all of you about what he’s thinking about."

Earnest did caution that Twitter shouldn’t be a president’s only method of communication, while conceding that “Interacting in that form with the independent media is not just valuable, it also is part of the job.”

Indeed, Trump has relied heavily on Twitter to communicate with the public. In November, Trump Tweeted more than 180 times via @realDonaldTrump – an average of about six times a day – with half of those posts coming since the Nov. 8 election.

Pres. Obama’s Tweet total on @POTUS pales in comparison. Obama posted only eight Tweets in November, with five since the election.

Meanwhile, the White House’s Twitter page (@WhiteHouse), populated by staffers, has been keeping pace with Trump’s, with 180+ Tweets in November, half coming since Election Day. But, as the page explains: “For tweets from the President, follow @POTUS.”

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REPORTER: "Policy aside, a number of times in the last week or so you’ve noted that the method that these positions have come out from the President-elect have been Twitter.  Are you suggesting that maybe it would be wiser, given the stature of the office, for the President-elect to be tweeting less or to be finding another way to sort of communicate some of these positions?"

MR. EARNEST: "I don't mean to do that.  I think what I've observed is that, since the election, this seems to have been the principal method that the President-elect has used to communicate with the American public and to communicate with all of you, with the exception of at least one off-the-record meeting that he held with journalists in New York last week.  So I don't mean to make that reference pejoratively because the truth is President Obama has found Twitter to be a useful mechanism for communicating with the American public and providing some insight to all of you about what he’s thinking about.

"At the same time, President Obama has not relied just on Twitter to communicate with the American public and interact with all of you.  Over the course of the President’s foreign trip, for example, when he traveled around the world, meeting with world leaders, talking about some of our highest national security priorities, the President, over the course of that trip, convened three different news conferences to answer your questions and to speak to all of you about those meetings and about the way that he was representing and advancing our interests around the globe.

"Interacting in that form with the independent media is not just valuable, it also is part of the job.  And President Obama takes that part of his job quite seriously.  And it’s something that we’ve done extensively during his time here in office. 

"But obviously the President-elect and his team will have to develop a communications strategy that they believe is most effective to informing the American public and is also consistent with the expectations that the American people have about transparency and accountability for those in positions of authority.  And part of that is an individual in a position of authority submitting or even subjecting themselves to skeptical questioning from an independent news media.  That’s a valuable and critically important part of our democracy, and, in fact, the success of our democracy depends on it."

 

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