The Shocking Reason Why Donald Trump Really Tweets With Grammatical Errors
Those who say President Donald Trump can’t possibly know grammar and spelling as badly as his tweets suggest might actually have a point. White House staffers who compose tweets for Trump’s feed use several tricks to sound more authentic.
And the reasoning has deeper — and more sinister — roots than you may want to believe. Whether we like it or not, Twitter has had a profound effect on our politics and our lives (page 8). Trump’s role in that also says something scary about us, as a nation (page 10).
1. Trump’s tweets reach an unprecedented audience
Trump started tweeting long before becoming president, but his campaign skyrocketed his online presence. By early 2016, his tweets began generating over 10,000 likes and 5,000 retweets each, according to a Politico analysis. His follower count quickly exceeded both Hillary Clinton’s and other politicians’.
Not only did the @realDonaldTrump account quickly become the place to watch for news from and about Trump, it also changed how we use Twitter. For the first time, the social medium became a primary outlet for a politician and soon, a president. Today, his tweets average more than 18,000 retweets and 74,000 likes each.
Next: We also shouldn’t wonder if Trump’s tweets do require multiple authors.
2. Trump’s tweets follow a different process
Trump does not serve as the first president to use Twitter regularly — that honor rests with Barack Obama. And other politicians have also tweeted, but with a lot more oversight. Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign required 22 different people to sign off on a tweet, which made them grammatically sound but stilted.
Both Clinton and Obama also tightly controlled their Twitter accounts. Trump does have staffers help with his signature tweets, to varying effects.
Next: By comparison, the following process seems seamless.
3. Presidents have always employed writers
Presidential speechwriters have always tried hard to channel their bosses’ style and cadence. Trump’s Twitter writers have a similar challenge. According to a Boston Globe report, sending out a Trump tweet requires a three-tiered process.
When a White House employee wants the president to tweet, they write a memo to the president that includes three or four sample tweets. Trump then picks the one he likes best, sometimes with some edits. Other times, he’ll simply blast it out to his 52 million Twitter followers as-is.
Next: It can also get difficult to figure out who actually writes his messages.
4. Sometimes, we can tell what Trump writes
Trump wants the people to believe he writes all of his own tweets. For that reason, his writers have honed in on a style that sounds just like him. However, The Atlantic came out with an algorithm to determine real versus staff-written tweets. It uses a complicated analysis to figure out who writes the material.
“Looking forward to greeting the Hostages (no longer) at 2:00 A.M.” someone tweeted from Trump’s account at 6:41 p.m. May 9. The Atlantic’s analysis pegged it 17% likely written by Trump, based on a complex comparison with past Trump tweets.
Next: You can even follow along using this service.
5. A Twitter bot even determines who wrote Trump’s tweets
The Twitter account @TrumpOrNotBot also rates the authenticity of Tweets sent via Trump’s personal account. “When the Twitter account is so central to his identity, it was interesting to know if a message is from his voice or is staff-written,” said Andrew McGill, who created the bot.
McGill’s bot compares each tweet the president sends with older ones. The bot then determines whether he wrote it, or someone else did. It also assigns a percentage chance that Trump really tapped out the message.
Next: As time goes on though, the bot also encountered a problem.
6. More and more, his tweets sound consistent
McGill said he suspects his bot has gotten less accurate, as Trump’s staff has gotten better. “They’ve gotten increasingly sophisticated about mimicking him online,’’ he said. That said, Trump tweets do have some “tells.” For example, tweets that include photographs or videos likely come from Trump’s staff. And ones with hashtags probably do too, McGill posits.
Next: Staffers have gotten better at using the following forms, though.
7. The president uses this recognizable style
Trump’s staffers use certain ways of writing that the president has all but trademarked. Those include an overuse of the exclamation point!! Capitalization of random Words! And fragmented, loosely connected ideas. Not to mention fragments. Of sentences. We used to think Trump Really Tweeted something when it had those features. But it turns out, staffers have learned how to replicate it. Sad!
Next: This style also does one important thing for Trump’s followers.
8. He tweets that way for a reason
The president’s signature style doesn’t just mean he has a poor command of language. It falls right in line with the way — and the reason — Trump uses Twitter, in the first place.
As Politico put it, “By blurring private and public discourse, Twitter allows Trump to turn locker-room talk, his favored idiom, into presidential speech.” It also keeps the spotlight firmly on him, even redirecting it from events he would rather the media ignore.
Next: And our reaction to it has the following effect.
9. Staffers believe liberal outrage has a purpose
Some staff members said they love the outrage Trump gets from liberals shocked by the Trumpian language they use. They said that debates over presidential typos just reinforce the belief within his base that the president is just like them.
Two sources told the Globe that some of Trump’s staffers believe the error-filled tweets actually boost the president’s standing among his supporters. They also make him more relatable, since who among us has not made a typo?
Next: But his style also has a more sinister side.
10. His Twitter language has a hidden agenda
Not only does Trump use Twitter to seem more like everyone else, he also inflames prejudice and gives hatred a platform. “The president’s use of language, like his White House, is chaotic. But that is not necessarily a problem in itself,” said Langdon Hammer, chairman of Yale University’s English Department. “It’s what he uses language for — the strategic interests served by his sloppiness.”
Hammer added that Trump’s Twitter allows him “to speak vaguely, equivocate, insinuate, inflame, and intimidate.” That, more than his grammar, might represent the scariest parts of what he and his staff actually write.
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