David Zurawik: Trump tweets, words on election increasingly covered with warning labels and preempted on social media and TV

David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun
·2 min read

As President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims about winning the election while alleging Democratic fraud have mounted in recent days, social media and cable and network TV have taken to covering them with warning labels on Twitter and preempting them altogether on television.

The president isn’t exactly being silenced, but his credibility is being seriously undercut on two of his most important platforms. Twitter and cable TV were the twin pillars of his winning 2016 media messaging strategy.

Representative of what’s happening to Trump on Twitter, several of his tweets have been covered with a statement that says, “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about the election or other civic process.”

Alongside the statement is the word “view,” which allows the user to click on it to see the tweet in question.

The most recent tweet treated this way at the time of this writing on Friday was posted at 2:22 a.m. It says: “I easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with LEGAL VOTES CAST. The OBSERVERS were not allowed, in any way, shape, or form, to do their job and therefore, votes accepted during this period must be determined to be ILLEGAL VOTES. U.S. Supreme Court should decide!”

This is similar to what Trump said at the podium of the White House Thursday night. MSNBC, CNN, CBS and ABC cut away altogether from coverage of Trump as he headed down a road filled with allegations and claims lacking evidence to support them. They instead fact checked his words that had already aired.

Early Wednesday morning when Trump made similar claims of winning and allegations of fraud against the Democrats, anchors at CNN, MSNBC and CBS quickly fact checked and labeled them as false for viewers.

Trump has developed a powerful messaging machine with Fox News, the Breitbart News Network and others the last four years, but being contextualized this way on Twitter and preempted on major cable and network news channels is a serious blow to his ability to deliver his message at a time when he seems to need it more than ever.

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ABOUT THE WRITER

David Zurawik is The Baltimore Sun’s media critic. Email: david.zurawik@baltsun.com; Twitter: @davidzurawik.

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