Bing, Beep, Chirp: It’s the President!
“Confounding.” “Amusing.” An “attention magnet.” A “trusty weapon.”
President Trump’s Twitter feed has received lots of coverage in The New York Times, earning quite a few colorful descriptors along the way.
And rightfully so: Mr. Trump has used Twitter to celebrate American heroes, to praise friends and allies, and to promulgate policy agendas. He has also used Twitter to assail American businesses (Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Nordstrom, among others) and to criticize political opponents and the judiciary.
Most recently, in a series of tweets posted early Saturday morning, Mr. Trump claimed, without offering any evidence, that President Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower in the month before the election. Those claims led to front-page stories on Sunday and today.
So for Times journalists tasked with covering the president, his Twitter feed, which offers an often unmediated glimpse into his frustrations, his whims and even his television-watching schedule, demands a special kind of attention.
“I have an alert for Trump’s tweets, so my iPhone beeps dependably early in the morning as soon as he hits Twitter,” Mark Landler, a White House correspondent, said in an email. “It’s actually become a substitute for my morning alarm.”
The level of Mr. Landler’s attention varies, though, depending on whether he’s on duty. “If I am, I follow the tweets closely and consult with editors about whether,” as is often the case, “I need to knock out a quick story.”
“On other days, I read them more casually — the background music of my life,” he added.
What does it mean to be “on duty”? Before the Trump administration, one member of the Washington bureau was assigned to be available each day, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, another White House correspondent, said in a recent podcast.
“当班”是什么意思？另一位驻白宫记者朱莉·赫希菲尔德·戴维斯(Julie Hirschfeld Davis)最近在播客节目中说，特朗普政府上台前，华盛顿分社每天都会有一个人被安排待命。
But things changed when Mr. Trump took office.
“We very quickly figured out during the transition to the Trump administration that we were going to need two people,” Ms. Davis explained. “If the president decides to tweet something that’s newsworthy at 9 p.m., then you can’t be asleep.”
Like Mr. Landler, Ms. Davis sets alerts for Mr. Trump’s tweets. Their arrival is accompanied by a distinctive chirp — although she plans to change the tone to something “a little more invasive.”
“We’ve gotten to know his patterns,” Ms. Davis said. “He gets up at 5 and will read the newspapers and watch the morning shows, in particular Fox News and MSNBC.” And then comes the first chirp. “That’s prime tweeting time.”
Amy Chozick, who covered Hillary Clinton’s campaign and is now on leave writing a book, has a different perspective.
报道过希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)的竞选、目前正休假写书的阿米·丘奇克(Amy Chozick)，则有不同的视角。
During the campaign, she received alerts any time Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton (or their top campaign aides) tweeted. “I also took my phone everywhere to check Twitter constantly, in a yoga class, in the bathroom, by my bed in the middle of the night,” she said in an email.
On book leave, though, Ms. Chozick has tried to wean herself off social media. When she sits down to write in the morning, she leaves her phone in another room, returning to it only after three or four hours. “It’s basically like rewarding a small child with peanut M&Ms,” she said.
But the strategy doesn’t always work.
“When I struggle to get words on the page, the pull of Twitter and Trump’s feed, in particular, is almost impossible to resist,” she said.
Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent, acknowledged that he, too, pays close attention to Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed (also with alerts), although he emphasized that Times journalists aren’t scrambling to write articles every time a new tweet pops up.
“Not every tweet is news — we evaluate them the same way we would a presidential quote at a news conference or a White House event,” Mr. Baker said in an email. The same journalistic standards — judgments on newsworthiness, veracity and potential repercussions — apply to coverage of Mr. Trump’s tweets as they do to his messages conveyed via other mediums.
“But obviously,” Mr. Baker added, “the more provocative ones tend to make news.”