Think: Michael Beschloss, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Douglas Brinkley. All three are historians who have pored over thousands and thousands of letters written by presidents over the last 200 plus years. And in so doing, helped us understand our history, our democracy.
Now think: Greta Van Susteren. Presidential historian? She has pored over roughly 500 presidential tweets over the course of 100 days.
Yes, I know what you are thinking: What's wrong with this picture? A lot!
But face it, this is 2017 and we have a president who doesn't have a quill and an ink bowl. He has an iPhone and 140 characters. So do you, so do I. What is hard to come to grips with is this: President Trump is the “tweeter-in-chief.” We have a tweeting president, and a very active one at that. I just have not yet gotten used it.
While he has tweeted the occasional self-described "clinker,” the truth is Trump has outsmarted us in the media. He has figured out he can go around us and speak directly to the people. And face it, Trump can do math. He has checked the numbers and realized that an appearance on a successful cable show will get him a few million viewers at best, but his two Twitter accounts? A combined following of more than 45 million followers.
Yes, I know — this just doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem right to me. But alas, this is 2017 and maybe we — maybe I — will get used to it.
I do worry that bypassing the media, avoiding the question and follow-up questions, is not good for the nation and neither is communicating in only 140 characters. These are serious times with serious issues and somehow this feels more like a game of cat and mouse with the media. The people need more … but I digress.
Arguably the most biting and buzzed-about tweets from Trump fall into the category of insults.
Since taking office, the president has tweeted the word “fake” 40 times — from decrying media outlets as “fake news” to referring to the Senate minority leader as “Fake Tears” Chuck Schumer. Another favorite “F-word” of Trump? Fail. He has used some form of that word (fail, failure, failing) on Twitter nearly two dozen times during his presidency, most frequently directed at The New York Times — “the failing @nytimes.” He has also used it to describe President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, Democrats’ special election results in Kansas and Georgia, and rapper Snoop Dogg’s career. And who could forget the most mud-slinging social media moment of the Trump presidency thus far — that early-morning Twitter spree accusing Obama of wiretapping him. What was with that?!?!?
But not everyone is subject to these succinct jabs from Trump. Another category I see in the president’s Twitter feed? Cheerleading. Less than 24 hours after taking office, he was specifically thanking Fox News for the “GREAT” review of his inauguration speech. Since then, he has sent 30 tweets promoting Fox News programming, sharing Fox News articles, or praising the network’s ratings.
Perhaps the biggest recipient of the president’s cheerleading is Trump himself. Long after the bravado of campaign-mode has ended, he still isn’t shy to boast about the “big crowds of enthusiastic supporters” and “long standing ovations” at his events. In fact, Trump has worked his “Make America Great Again!” rallying cry into 13 post-inauguration tweets. In the world of Trump’s Twitter, everything he does is a “WIN!” — and he won’t miss a chance to tell you about it.
And in between the slapping of his foes and the showboating of his friends (and himself), there were many instances of Trump acting presidential on Twitter. And while these tweets may seem mundane in comparison to their splashy, headline-grabbing counterparts, they represent a more traditional use of the medium — to promote policy and give the public a glimpse of White House goings-on. The most notable difference between these tweets and the rest? His tone. He is reined in, refined, and blunt in his objectives without resorting to his signature Twitter barbs.
The foregoing is not a complete recitation of Trump’s first 100 days of tweeting, but it gives you a taste. And my advice to the president for the next 100 days? It is what everyone from his wife Melania to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they want him to do — stop tweeting! But since I do not see that happening, I have some advice for the rest of us for the next 100 days of the Trump presidency: #BuckleUp, it will be wild!
And by the way, follow me on Twitter @greta
Greta Van Susteren is the host of "For the Record" airing weekdays on MSNBC at 6pm ET