An English teacher once told me that writing styles are like fingerprints: everyone’s is different. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t be copied.
There’s a parlor game in some circles about Donald Trump’s tweets, as observers wonder whether individual missives were written by the president or one of his aides. I tend to believe that if the messages include complete sentences and proper capitalization, it’s a safe bet the wording didn’t come from Trump.
But the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports today that figuring out the author of the presidential tweets isn’t always easy.
The hallmark of President Trump’s Twitter feed is that it sounds like him – grammatical miscues and all.
But it’s not always Trump tapping out a Tweet, even when it sounds like his voice. West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style, according to two people familiar with the process.
They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis. Fragments. Loosely connected ideas. All part of a process that is not as spontaneous as Trump’s Twitter feed often appears.
I see. We’ve reached the point in American history at which White House professionals, with high-paying jobs in the West Wing, take care to write badly, on purpose, in order to sound like the president of the United States.
Somewhere, the aforementioned English teacher is weeping.
The Globe’s report added:
Staff-written tweets do go through a West Wing process of sorts. When a White House employee wants the president to tweet about a topic, the official writes a memo to the president that includes three or four sample tweets, according to those familiar with the process.
Trump then picks the one he likes best, according to the two people, neither of whom wanted to be named because they’re not authorized to talk about the operations. Sometimes Trump will edit the wording and sometimes he’ll just pick his favorite for blasting out to his 52 million Twitter followers.
While staff members do consciously use poor grammar, they do not intentionally misspell words or names, one person familiar with the process explained.
In other words, when the president welcomed home First Lady Melania Trump to the White House over the weekend, but published a tweet calling her “Melanie,” this was almost certainly an autocorrect error, not a ruse from the president’s aides to sound like their boss.