Casey Mulligan, a veteran of President Donald Trump’s White House staff, believes people who really want to understand the chief executive should look to his Twitter account and a common technique he employs to capture media attention.
Mulligan, author of the soon-to-be-released book “You’re Hired! Untold Stories of Successes and Failures of a Populist President,” served as chief economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers during a sabbatical from the University of Chicago in 2018 and 2019.
“You understand a lot about where Trump is going if you know how to interpret his tweets,” he told The Western Journal.
The economics professor argued there is a reason that the president gives so much attention to serving up a “steady stream of bizarre, bombastic, and sometimes hilarious messages” to his more than 84 million followers on Twitter.
Mulligan noted in his book that a 2018 Gallup poll revealed 76 percent of U.S. adults reported seeing, hearing or reading about Trump’s tweets “a lot” or “a fair amount.” That translates to about 190 million people.
“That’s even more people than watch the annual Super Bowl, and more than double the number of people watching the typical Presidential debate,” the author wrote.
The figure also represents a far larger audience that even the best-rated news television programs, which may garner an audience of three or four million.
Mulligan explained that Trump often exaggerates or embellishes issues on Twitter just to get the media to cover something he believes needs attention.
It’s a mutually beneficial tradeoff, the former White House staffer told The Western Journal.
The media gets to call him a liar, “which they enjoy, and he gets to broadcast whatever issue he’s interested in. I think [Trump] views that as a trade and it certainly works out that way.”
Mulligan offered as a case in point the 2019 Economic Report of the President, which showed the economy grew 3.1 percent during the calendar year 2018. That annual growth rate had not been seen since 2005.
When this was presented to Trump, he determined it would not get fair coverage from the media, so he called for social media director Dan Scavino to join the Oval Office meeting, Mulligan said.
Scavino is the one who runs Trump’s Twitter account, typing most of the tweets for the president, according to Mulligan.
“POTUS began with a now familiar strategy for getting the press to cover a new fact, which is to exaggerate it so that the press might enjoy correcting him and unwittingly disseminate the intended finding,” he recounted in his book.
Mulligan recalled that Trump asked those in the room, including Kevin Hassett, then the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, if he should tweet the U.S. had its best growth in 20 years or even 50, rather than the actual 13 years.
“POTUS quickly decided, as he did on many occasions, to initially report the result with 100 percent precision, exactly as provided by CEA. Later his communications team could gauge whether the coverage needed exaggeration,” Mulligan wrote.
In the tweet below, Trump added on one year, some weeks after an official White House statement pegged the length of time at 13 years.
3.1 GDP FOR THE YEAR, BEST NUMBER IN 14 YEARS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2019
Mulligan dispelled the notion that Trump walks around with an iPhone just tweeting whatever comes to his mind.
“I never saw him with a personal electronic device,” Mulligan told The Western Journal. “So the idea that he’s walking around with a phone and tapping in stuff” on the fly is not true.
The tweets are reviewed by “many people,” he said.
On Thursday, Trump successfully employed his Twitter account to cause the media to cover his concerns with mass mail-in voting.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Trump tweeted early Thursday morning.
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
His controversial tweet came the same day the Commerce Department reported the nation experienced its largest GDP drop ever of 32.9 percent in the second quarter, due in large part to COVID-19 shutdowns.
The president cannot change Election Day, but his tweet did start a media frenzy, which he happily noted later in the day with a follow-up post.
“Glad I was able to get the very dishonest LameStream Media to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting (not Absentee Voting, which I totally support!),” Trump said.
Glad I was able to get the very dishonest LameStream Media to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting (not Absentee Voting, which I totally support!).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
“As we see in New York, where we’re five weeks out from that election — and, in fact, we still don’t know the outcome of a congressional race, and that is certainly not what we want to see in November,” she added, referring to that state’s 12th Congressional District race.
Later in the briefing, McEnany offered the example of Los Angeles County to further highlight the problems with mass mail-in ballots.
“Look at LA County, where 112 percent of LA County is registered. That means you have 12 percent of excess ballots floating around,” the press secretary said. “We know at least 12 percent that are not accurate ballots that were mailed out.”
“So, mass mail-in voting is certainly subject to fraud, and good work on the part of ABC, CBS, Washington Post and The New Yorker for highlighting the fraud that is at play, the delays that are at play — because those are, after all, the facts,” she concluded.
To summarize, Trump’s tweet allowed him to place a spotlight on the potential for fraud that comes with universal mail-in voting and to push the second quarter’s abysmal GDP number off the front page, so to speak.
Mulligan said keeping an eye on the president’s tweets is advisable for those who want to stay in the know: “It’s important to know how the Twitter works, it’s not just fun.”
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