Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones. He's done some other stuff, too. You can email him at email@example.com. But you don't have to. But you can. But you really don't have to.
Donald Trump tweets a lot. He's pretty good at it too! Personally, I love his Twitter account. It's a mix of insanity and self-promotion and insanity and, well, self-promotion. But it's endearing!
I've always assumed that Trump sends his own tweets. This is not because Twitter is a holy place and everyone sends their own tweets, but his account tweets so many weird things that I figured he couldn't have a professional ghost tweeter at the helm. That person would never let him send half the things he sends. But then a few weeks ago my colleague Ian Gordon pointed me to a Washington Post profile of his media handler, Hope Hicks, which had me in tears:
On his plane, Trump flips through cable channels, reads news articles in hard copy, and makes offhanded comments. He's throwing out his signature bombastic, sometimes offensive tweets. Hicks takes dictation and sends the words to aides somewhere in the Trump empire, who send them out to the world.
Dictating is still tweeting in a sense, but it really isn't the same. This means he's not scrolling through his timeline, checking his mentions, having the full Twitter experience. He's broadcasting.
Mr. Trump doesn't use a computer. He relies on his smartphone to tweet jabs and self-promotion, often late into the night, from a chaise lounge in his bedroom suite in front of a flat-screen TV.
Now it's possible that it's a combination of both: Sometimes he dictates, and sometimes he tweets.
While this is an answer, it begs a new question: How much of his tweets are his? To figure this one out, we put on our social-media detective hats and took a trip to Twitonomy.com.
Since April 23, @realDonaldTrump has tweeted 3,197 times. (Twitter's API limits how many tweets analytics tools can access, so we can't go further back than that.)
A majority of those tweets (1,707) have come from Twitter for Android. Another 1,245 have come from Twitter.com. Ninety-nine have come from a BlackBerry, and another 99 have come from an iPhone.
From the above WSJ article, we know Trump doesn't use a computer, so Twitter.com is out. Those are being done by someone else. The question is: What smartphone is Trump using? Once upon a time, Trump made his dissatisfaction with the iPhone very clear when he demanded that Apple manufacture a larger screen. This is something Apple ended up doing with the iPhone 6 and the still larger iPhone 6+. It's unclear if this enticed Trump back into the fold. There are some massive smartphones out there! Maybe he has a Galaxy Note 5.
So, if that is accurate, only 3 percent of Donald Trump's last 3,197 tweets—at most—actually came from his fingers. (Possibly less if one of his aides also uses an iPhone.) The rest were apparently dictated or, in the case of the Nazi image, sent out by an intern. He's obviously a busy person (and old, at that), so I understand why he doesn't send all his own tweets. But still, it takes some of the magic away.
Below are some more charts from Twitonomy about Trump's tweets:
Josh Barro has a good piece up examining whether reform conservatives like David Frum are celebrating the rise of Donald Trump. Frum & friends have long pushed for the GOP to soften its stance on entitlement reform and Trump is leading in the GOP polls while simultaneously attacking his fellow Republican candidates for wanting to cut Social Security, so his ascendency in many ways vindicates the reform conservative point that American conservatism need not be about "going Galt."
“There were a lot of people who wanted to think the Tea Party is a straightforward libertarian movement,” said Reihan Salam, the executive editor of National Review. But he said Mr. Trump’s ability to lead the polls while attacking Republicans for wanting to cut entitlement programs showed that conservative voters are open to “government programs that help the right people.”
Too true. A lot of conservatives are just fine with welfare as long as it goes to "the right people."