President Harry S. Truman kept a sign saying “The buck stops here” on his desk in the Oval Office. The phrase framed his sense of ultimately taking responsibility to actions of leadership.
Donald Trump, who will become America’s president in less than two months, has a penchant for Twitter, and early-morning musings of 140 words when he’s challenged or angry. His smartphone is always at the ready.
On the Nov. 13 edition of “60 Minutes,” Lesley Stahl asked President-elect Trump if he would be tweeting about things upsetting him when he becomes commander in chief. “I’m not a big tweeter,” Trump said. “I mean, I don’t do too many, but they hit home. And they have to get a point across.”
However, Trump also bragged about his millions of followers on social media, adding that it gets the word out and provides a “method of fighting back” instantaneously.
“I’m going to do very restrained, if I use it at all, I’m going to do very restrained,” Trump told Stahl. “I find it tremendous. It’s a modern form of communication. There should be nothing you should be ashamed of. … The fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera, I think it helped me win all of these races where they’re spending much more money than I spent. You know, I spent my money. A lot of my money. And I won. I think that social media has more power than the money they spent, and I think maybe to a certain extent, I proved that.”
Since winning the election, President-elect Trump has lashed out on Twitter at the cast of “Hamilton,” called out “Saturday Night Live” and again needled the New York Times as a “failing newspaper” without offering any evidence to back up his claim.
The “Hamilton” incident didn’t even involve Trump. His running mate, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, was the one booed and lectured by the cast while attending the Broadway play. But Pence handled the situation with dignity, saying he wasn’t offended and enjoyed the play.
Presidents have always used the latest technology to communicate. President Franklin D. Roosevelt did fireside radio chats and also had a press pool — a practice every president since has continued and one we encourage the Trump administration to adopt. Even though you have millions of followers on social media platforms, that doesn’t mean you should avoid holding traditional press conferences.
On Jan. 20 Trump will be provided the proverbial keys to the @POTUS Twitter account. Words matter, and words issued by the president of the United States matter a lot — even a small burst of words in a tweet. We urge the new president, as the leader of the free world, to show more restraint in his social media statements.
Guest editorial reprinted from the Enid, Okla., News & Eagle.