President Trump has said that Twitter allows him to eschew a press corp he routinely decries as dishonest. But those tweets have led to plenty of bad headlines, and poor marks from the American public.
A study released on Wednesday by Pew Research Center found that most stories that included one of Trump’s tweets “were more likely than others to have an overall negative assessment of him or his administration.” Fifty-four percent of stories containing a Trump tweet carried a negative assessment from the journalist who wrote the story. Only 7% had a positive assessment, while 39% had neither.
At first blush, those numbers might appear to give credence to Trump and his supporters, who believe that much of the news media has been unfair and hostile to his administration.
On the other hand, Trump’s Twitter feed is a repository for invective and outright falsehoods. His tweets about MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski’s appearance were widely denounced as sexist. In August, Trump responded to a terror attack in Barcelona by tweeting out a debunked rumor to his millions of followers.
Less than a month later, Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that the United States is “the highest taxed nation in the world.”
Pew’s study noted that “stories with at least one of the president’s tweets were more likely to include a direct refutation by the reporter of something the president or a member of his administration said — whether it was a refutation of the tweet itself, a statement related to the issue referenced in the tweet or another statement altogether in the story.”
“Overall, one-in-ten stories included a direct refutation,” the study said. “This jumps to about one-in-five stories with a Trump tweet (21%), more than double the share that did not contain one (8%).”
Pew said that it analyzed more than 3,000 news stories from 24 different outlets over Trump’s first 100 days in office.
Trump’s use of Twitter has become a defining element of his presidency. Whether he’s picking fights or reacting to something he just saw on television, Trump’s tweets have driven one news cycle after another.
A separate Pew study released earlier this month showed that about one-in-six news stories about Trump or his administration during his first 100 days in office included one of his tweets.
But there are signs that the public has grown tired of the routine. A poll from Quinnipiac University released last week said that 70% of voters believe Trump should stop tweeting from his personal account, which has more than 40 million followers.
That will likely never happen. Trump has frequently touted Twitter as a way to escape the scrutiny of reporters.
“That is the great thing about Twitter,” Trump said at a rally last month. “You know, when the press is dishonest, which is most of the time, and when they say, like, I don’t want to build a wall, I can tweet ‘That was a false story. Boom. Boom. Boom.'”