by Eddie Scarry | Washington Examiner
President Trump used his Thanksgiving holiday to return again and again to his antipathy for the news media, which left many in the press scratching their heads over the long break.
Between Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day, and Monday, the president fired off 26 tweets (and two retweets of other accounts) on topics ranging from pending tax legislation to the Alabama Senate race to personnel moves at the Consumer Finance Protection Agency. Of those tweets, eight were about the media, and on more than one occasion they were targeted at specific outlets and scathing in tone.
Reacting to a tweet from White House social media director Dan Scavino about the MSNBC program “Morning Joe” on Monday, Trump tweeted, “The good news is that their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!”
Trump is known to be an avid Twitter user, posting his thoughts about the day’s news most frequently in the mornings when his messages seem to coincide with cable news segments on any topic that animates him.
But there is often little or no discernible pattern to his Twitter activity and the holiday weekend was no exception.
“I have no clue why he weighed in so much,” one CNN producer told the Washington Examiner. The producer, whose network was perhaps Trump’s biggest target over the holiday, was not authorized to speak on the record.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!”
The network and some of its on-air talent took exception with the slight.
CNN’s publicity department used its own Twitter account to reply, “It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S. to the world. That’s yours. Our job is to report the news. #FactsFirst.”
One of Trump’s media tweets seemed crafted purely for the sake of causing mischief.
“Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named ‘Man (Person) of the Year,’ like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot,” he said Friday. “I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!”
The magazine denied that it had ever indicated Trump would be its “Person of the Year.”
After Trump’s broadside against “Morning Joe,” a producer at MSNBC speculated that Trump was likely on a tirade against the media in anticipation of some pending news story that may break and consume the White House.
“Something might be coming this week that has him wanting to diminish the credibility of cable news,” the producer said.
At least one big story related to the administration did break over the holiday and it will likely still have consequences into the near future.
The New York Times reported on Thanksgiving Day that former national security adviser Mike Flynn and his lawyers were no longer communicating with the White House about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference. The report set off speculation through the weekend that Flynn may be negotiating with Mueller’s team for a plea bargain or otherwise cooperating with the investigation.
On Sunday, Trump wrote on Twitter, “Since the first day I took office, all you hear is the phony Democrat excuse for losing the election, Russia, Russia, Russia. Despite this I have the economy booming and have possibly done more than any 10 month President. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The next day came Trump’s tweet against “Morning Joe” and a separate one proposing a competition to find out which TV news outlet was “the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite president (me).” Trump specifically said, however, that the game would exclude Fox News, which he generally views favorably.
The series of tweets seemed to be, as they often are, a reaction to something, but it wasn’t clear what.
Another producer, this one at Fox, said it likely was the Russia coverage.
“I think,” the producer said, “he knows Mueller is hot on his trail and he’s freaking out and trying his distraction strategy.”