Trump's First 100 Days Show a President Obsessed With 'Fake News'—and Twitter

G.lanktree

President Donald Trump’s habit of sharing his unfiltered thoughts online hasn’t let up during the first 100 days of the "Tweeter in Chief’s" administration.

Trump has used the social media platform to attack his enemies and “fake news” as well as promote his television appearances and the “great” meetings he’s having to—in his words—bypass "dishonest media" and speak directly to his base.

As Trump reaches the 100 days milestone Saturday he has published a little over 500 tweets. Newsweek Media Group has used computer code developed by academics around the world to analyze texts to examine the 9,152 words in those missives and figure out what they tell us about his presidency so far.

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"Most of the people that want me to stop [tweeting] are the enemies,” Trump told the hosts of Fox & Friends during an interview in February. A month earlier a poll showed nearly 70 percent of Americans view his tweeting negatively since Trump’s casual words could "have unintended major implications without careful review."

Despite White House staff efforts to stop the president from over-sharing, Trump has nevertheless continued to tweet prolifically. The president even prefers his @realDonaldTrump account with its 28.4 million followers to his official @POTUS handle because of its wider reach.

Expressions-1-hor

Daniele Palumbo

The phrase that most often leapt from Trump’s fingertips to his smartphone over the past 100 days is “fake news”—which appears 30 times in the president’s tweets.

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Days the president tweeted the most came when there were large developments in several investigations by Congress and the FBI. These probes are looking into alleged contact and collusion between Trump’s 2016 election campaign officials and Russian government agents.

“This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign,” Trump tweeted on February 15. This appeared along with 10 other tweets after a New York Times story revealed Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is being investigated by the FBI. The “fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories,” Trump wrote.

In all, the president attacked the “failing @nytimes” a total of 15 times on Twitter during his first 100 days. Yet he continues to read the paper.

Trump also played defense March 3 when he sent out 13 tweets, many shielding Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he called “an honest man” who “did not say anything wrong,” after it was revealed Sessions incorrectly claimed in his Senate confirmation hearing that he didn’t have contact with Russian officials during the election. Evidence emerged March 1 that Sessions had, in fact, spoken with Russia’s ambassador twice.

“We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!” Trump wrote later the same day, including a photo of Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer eating doughnuts with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2003. A day after these tweets Trump wrongly accused former President Barack Obama of “wiretapping” Trump Tower during the election.

Fake news aside, the single word Trump uses most in his tweets is “great,” which appears 86 times. The president is constantly referring to “great meetings” or “great honors” and eight other variations on the theme. He has tweeted his campaign slogan “make America great again” a total of 24 times in his first 100 days, making “great” one of the president’s favourite words.

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words-hor

Daniele Palumbo

Joy and positivity are, in fact, the emotions that appear most in the bulk of words Trump uses, according to natural language processing. Researchers are conducting language analysis of large data sets drawn from social media, such as in a 2012 University of Bristol study that measured the effect of the Great Recession on the collective mood in the United Kingdom.

Despite the fact that many associate Trump with negative politics, approximately 57 percent of the president’s tweets have a positive tone to them. But although Trump’s tweets don’t show much ‘anger’ in the Newsweek Media Group analysis, they tend toward feelings of disgust when talking about his enemies. Trump's Tweets slamming The New York Times, CNN, Democrats, and Obama attempt to rally his audience to a shared disdain toward the president’s political enemies.

The analysis also found Trump doesn’t use a large number of words or complex sentences to express himself. This finding lines up with a Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science analysis of Trump’s campaign speeches in 2016 that found the president’s grammar on par with a fifth-grade reading level.

The president used just 2,215 unique words in the more than 9,000 that make up his tweets—a small vocabulary drawn from the 171,476 English words still in use. Most native English speakers have a written vocabulary of at least 20,000 words.

The text analysis reveals that few of his tweets are analytical or reflective and are written in a straightforward, often divisive way that doesn’t open up debate or discussion. His small vocabulary means he often repeats the same words again and again. One tweet on March 14 simply says “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” with screenshots of a Fox Business jobs report.

Much of this also comes across in Trump’s speaking style too. But linguists say there may be a method behind it all. "There is a lot of repetition, building up patterns of trust with the listener, repetition of 'you know,'" Paul Breen, a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster told the Associated Press April 26. "I think there is actual method in what others may portray as his madness," he said.

"I went to an Ivy League school,” Trump reminded people in 2015 as he set out at the beginning of his campaign for president. “I'm very highly educated. I know words; I have the best words."

number of tweets + content-verSmall

Daniele Palumbo

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