WASHINGTON — President Trump invited a few of his most ardent digital warriors to the White House on Thursday for its first social media summit. Twitter was not there and its platform was down within the hours main up to the occasion — the corporate blamed an “internal configuration change.”
But the president’s favourite bullhorn made a well timed comeback simply because the summit started, and it struck me that there was no higher means to doc the lovefest between Mr. Trump and 200 of his most passionate on-line followers.
A little bit context is so as right here. In the enterprise, we name this the “nut graf,’’ which tells you why the story is essential.
The president, to nobody’s shock, mentioned early on that he favored the facility of his tweets: their capacity to blow up the web or trigger CNN and MSNBC anchors to react swiftly. He additionally talked about that fewer folks have been participating along with his missives.
The viewers didn’t embrace the standard corporations that come to thoughts for social media: Twitter, Facebook and Google. Instead Mr. Trump gathered a group of far-right voices who he mentioned typically labored with Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.
Mr. Trump moved on to a spread of subjects, together with the technique for beating the Democrats in 2020.
But an uninvited visitor distracted Mr. Trump by actually getting in his face. A fly within the White House! History tells us that the president is easily distracted by these household insects. He seemed to recover quickly, though.
Mr. Trump raised the issue of so-called shadow banning last year after an article in Vice News claimed that certain conservatives were being muted by Twitter’s search function. That turned out to be false. Still, the president and his supporters are convinced that conservative suppression online is a real problem.
Several times, Mr. Trump appeared to gesture to individuals in the crowd, simultaneously praising and chiding them for bad behavior.
The president then took questions from his supporters. Conveniently, the White House stopped broadcasting the event, closing it off to observers.
Up next was a news conference about Mr. Trump’s decision to drop the fight to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The president, his attorney general and his commerce secretary were ushered into the Rose Garden, where the social media attendees awaited. It was unclear what right-wing activists had to do with the legal issues surrounding federal data, but they cheered him on anyway.
Just as rain began to fall, Mr. Trump went inside and left his supporters to squabble with journalists who had assembled to cover the event. Sebastian Gorka, a supporter and briefly a Trump administration official, quickly approached a reporter who described the guests as “eager for demonic possession.”
“Are you threatening me in the Rose Garden?” Mr. Gorka said. The reporter, Brian Karem of Playboy, said no. Still, a chant from Mr. Trump’s supporters broke out: “Gorka! Gorka! Gorka!” Mr. Gorka then called Mr. Karem a “punk.” Another attendee from the social media event crudely suggested to the journalist that Mr. Gorka could take him in a fight.
Twitter flickered off again shortly after, bringing the social media event to its conclusion.
Kate Conger contributed reporting from San Francisco.