Trump Says Social Media Helps Him to ‘Circumvent’ Fake Media

By Patrick Goodenough | May 5, 2017 | 4:36 AM EDT

President Trump addresses an event Thursday on the USS Intrepid museum in New York marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. (White House video screengrab)

( – Social media enables him to “circumvent” unfair or false media reporting and quickly share the message he wants to get out, President Trump said Thursday.

Asked during a press appearance in New York with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about his “unconventional” presidential tweeting, Trump said, “I’ve got over 100 million people watching, and social media is the way to go.”

“This way, if somebody’s not treating you properly or if you do have indeed fake media – not all of it is fake, some of it’s fantastic actually, but – you can just sort of circumvent.”

“There are many different forms, but it’s a fast way of getting the word out,” he said, adding that he thought it had really helped during Thursday’s congressional debate over a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. (Trump sent several tweets during the day, declaring ObamaCare to be in a “death spiral,” mocking House Democrats’ attempts to defend it, and touting its proposed replacement.)

“I think it’s a great way to communicate, and it’s a modern way to communicate,” he said.

Earlier in the appearance with Turnbull, Trump accused media outlets of pushing “fake news” by exaggerating how badly a phone call last January between the then newly-inaugurated president and the Australian prime minister had gone.

(At the time it was reported that the two had sparred over an agreement Canberra reached with the Obama administration last year for the U.S. to resettle more than 1,200 refugees held by Australia in offshore detention centers.)

“You guys exaggerated that call. That was a big exaggeration, okay?” Trump said. “We had a great call. I mean, we’re not babies. But we had a great call, right?”

Later Thursday, during an event marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea – when U.S. and Australia fought together against Imperial Japan – Trump joked about the phone call, saying it was “a very nice call” but conceded that it “got a little bit testy.”

“But that’s okay,” he added. “We have a very good relationship and I am very proud of the relationship.”

Trump’s claim of reaching 100 million people online has drawn scrutiny in the past, with critics adding up his followers and fans on major social media platforms and saying the numbers don’t add up.

On Twitter, the @realDonaldTrump account has 28.7 million followers and @POTUS has 16.9 million; Facebook records 22.1 million likes for the Donald Trump account and another 1.5 million for the President Donald J. Trump page; and the president has 6.7 million followers on Instagram.

Still, Trump’s more provocative tweets – such as the March 4 one accusing President Obama of monitoring Trump Tower phones and others accusing North Korea of “looking for trouble” or putting Iran “ON NOTICE” over a ballistic missile launch – invariably draw extensive social and conventional media attention, greatly multiplying their reach.

Trump tweeted some 440 times – not including retweets – during his first 100 days in office.

“We’d love it if every world leader used Twitter as their primary mechanism to talk to their constituencies,” a Twitter executive told Bloomberg Television this week.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow