It's not Twitter's job to silence Trump

I was preparing to appear on CNN Tuesday night when the breaking news alert came that President Trump ...

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 9:27 PM
Updated: Jan 3, 2018 9:27 PM

I was preparing to appear on CNN Tuesday night when the breaking news alert came that President Trump had tweeted about the size of his nuclear "button" -- as a response to North Korea's Kim Jong Un's statement about having a nuclear "button" on his own desk.

Almost immediately, some commentators began pleading with Twitter to block the President's account for violating the platform's rules against abusive behavior.

It is unlikely that the President's tweeting about North Korea gets us anywhere geopolitically, and I think the tone and volume of his tweets makes each subsequent one less impactful. But Trump's latest tweet revives a longstanding and critical question: is it Twitter's job to censor the President of the United States?

My view is a resounding no, that wading into those waters puts American democracy in dangerous territory.

My advice to those who spend each day refreshing their Twitter feeds for their next hit of outrage is to stop taking the bait. No 71-year-old person who so enjoys a hobby is going to stop, and I doubt anyone in this world enjoys anything more than Donald Trump enjoys snapping off a signature missive.

We must accept that the President sees himself as our national pundit-in-chief, whose job it is to set the national conversation. He is, hands down, the most influential and skillful Twitter troll of all time. Whether this is good or bad for the presidency is a debate for another day, but it is the current reality of his office. And it is not going to change.

I concede that tweeting about nuclear buttons is something worth debating vigorously, especially since no one will be around to say, "I told you so," if our countries do start a nuclear war using the platform of a company that has never turned an annual profit.

But we can't expect a corporation -- as my fellow panelmate Symone Sanders suggested last night -- to censor the President. I was stunned, frankly, that someone with such close ties to the most anti-corporate wing of the Democratic Party would want this to happen.

I thought Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters hated corporate influence in our politics. But now, because the President said something they don't like (and is admittedly weird), they clamor for a corporation to intervene?

There are political remedies for people who don't like the President's tweeting. They can try to win more seats in the Congress during the congressional midterms, and then ask their representatives to impeach the President (which I fully expect to happen should the Democrats take control of the US House). Or they can try to beat the President in the 2020 presidential election.

Either is a decidedly better remedy -- at least the pursuit of it -- than pleading with corporations to censor our elected leaders. And early indications are that Twitter agrees with me, as a statement from the company indicates no appetite for shutting down the President's stream of consciousness.

Those demanding this action from Twitter should put the shoe on the other foot: What if a conservative commentator called on American cable and broadcast outlets to stop airing Bernie Sanders' comments slamming capitalism? What if I said it was dangerous for a politician to suggest upending our entire system of free markets, and it was therefore justified to block his statements from reaching the public's ears?

We know the answer: The American left and media establishment would be outraged about such a suggestion, and rightfully so.

We can all be upset or outraged at the speech and actions of our elected officials on any given day, especially in this case. But to suggest a solution of corporate intervention is, in my opinion, a dangerous school of thought in a country built on free speech and a process-driven representative democracy.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16322

Reported Deaths: 782
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds103526
Lauderdale74568
Madison74525
Neshoba70742
Jones66331
Scott66112
Forrest59439
DeSoto5538
Leake44712
Rankin4468
Holmes43928
Copiah3154
Jackson30813
Attala30318
Yazoo2864
Newton2824
Leflore27334
Lincoln27029
Monroe26525
Harrison2637
Oktibbeha25314
Lamar2485
Lowndes2309
Wayne2242
Pearl River21131
Pike20411
Adams20015
Noxubee1916
Washington1917
Warren18110
Covington1732
Jasper1654
Lee1657
Bolivar16511
Clarke15419
Smith15311
Kemper14711
Lafayette1414
Chickasaw13714
Coahoma1274
Winston1211
Marion1179
Carroll11711
Clay1154
Claiborne1122
Lawrence1061
Simpson1020
Grenada993
Yalobusha966
Tate951
Hancock9112
Itawamba897
Wilkinson859
Union857
Sunflower853
Montgomery851
Panola843
Marshall813
Jefferson Davis803
Tippah7611
Webster683
Calhoun674
Amite641
Walthall610
Humphreys597
Tunica563
Prentiss563
Perry513
Choctaw482
Pontotoc433
Jefferson431
Tishomingo340
Quitman340
Stone310
Franklin292
Tallahatchie291
George261
Greene221
Alcorn181
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18554

Reported Deaths: 651
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2283118
Jefferson1882103
Montgomery180243
Tuscaloosa81616
Marshall7059
Franklin5768
Lee55234
Shelby52220
Tallapoosa43166
Butler41618
Walker3782
Elmore3739
Chambers35826
Madison3444
Morgan2971
Baldwin2929
Unassigned2922
Dallas2823
Etowah26112
DeKalb2563
Lowndes25512
Autauga2395
Coffee2381
Sumter2267
Houston2235
Bullock2136
Pike2080
Colbert1872
Hale1789
Russell1770
Barbour1751
Marengo1746
Lauderdale1672
Calhoun1653
Choctaw15310
Wilcox1527
Cullman1501
Clarke1482
St. Clair1311
Randolph1287
Marion12411
Dale1230
Pickens1215
Talladega1175
Limestone1080
Chilton1041
Greene954
Winston910
Macon864
Jackson833
Henry812
Covington811
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia743
Washington726
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe442
Geneva430
Perry420
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
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