With his tweets about Scarborough's intern, Trump set a trap for Twitter
Even Trump-supporters have wondered about Trump's tweets implying that MSNBC's Joe Scarborough had something to do with a young intern's death in his office when he was still a Florida congressman. It's true that Scarborough and his co-host and wife Mika Brzezinksi have spent three years accusing Trump of treasonous collusion with the Russians, but Trump's venom still seemed strange.
I, however, don't think it was strange at all. Trump is one of the most calculating, rational people ever to occupy the White House. He's been faced with a serious problem, which is the fact that the immensely powerful social media giants, which are the gateway to most information nowadays, have already begun trying to sway the election to Biden. Legislatively, thanks to three years of Russiagate and the current hostile House, Trump has been powerless.
So Trump set a trap. On Wednesday, the Twitter mouse took the bait.
The ostensible story is about Lori Klausutis, 28, who worked in Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach congressional office from 1999 to 2001. On July 20, 2001, when Scarborough was out of town, Klausutis's body was found in the office. Because of a very bizarre medical examiner, it wasn't clear how Klausutis died, making her death ripe for different theories.
Initially, those theories came from the left. In 2010, hard-left Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas lost a gig at MSNBC when he tweeted directly to Scarborough about Klausutis's death. Other leftists such as James Wolcott and Michael Moore attacked Scarborough, too.
After Scarborough turned on Trump in 2016, Trump eventually tweeted out an allusion to Klausutis's death:
So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin? And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the “unsolved mystery” that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2017
It was just recently that Trump again started tweeting about Klausutis’s death:
A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story! https://t.co/CjBXBXxoNS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020
A furiously angry Mika Brzezinksi demanded that Twitter dump Trump:
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) May 20, 2020
I think Mika's demand was what Trump was waiting for. He wanted to goad Twitter into doing something to get him off the platform.
On Wednesday, Twitter took the bait. As I’m sure Trump had calculated, Twitter didn't do something as obvious as responding to Mika's demands. Instead, it flagged two of Trump's tweets as false:
By challenging the president that way, Twitter made the fatal mistake of overtly inserting itself as a content editor, and therefore publisher, of overtly political material. Trump was ready:
Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election. If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen! They tried hard in 2016, and lost. Now they are going absolutely CRAZY. Stay Tuned!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2020
The big action appears to be that Trump will sign an executive order. The best guess is that it will target the social media giants' current immunity from libel and defamation suits because they're viewed as bulletin boards, not publishers. However, when they actively manipulate content — especially the most political content of all, which is statements from the President of the United States — they've put themselves in an editorial position and should be held liable.
This has to have been Trump's goal all along with those Scarborough tweets. He goaded Twitter into censoring him, and the social media giant walked right into his trap. Well played, President Trump. Well played.