Donald Trump has spent months peddling a strange conspiracy theory about Twitter, among other tech giants, which the president believes is actively trying to undermine him. The paranoid claims have never made any sense, and Trump has never been able to substantiate his theory with any kind of evidence, but he remains quite excited about it.
Indeed, just yesterday morning, the president used Twitter to complain about Twitter, insisting without proof that the social-media platform has a partisan agenda, and is "very discriminatory" against Republicans. Trump added that Twitter makes it "hard for people to sign on" -- I haven't the foggiest idea what that was supposed to mean -- adding that Congress should "get involved," presumably with new regulations.
This served as a precursor to an Oval Office meeting between the president and Twitter's CEO, which was reportedly the White House's idea.
President Donald Trump met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Tuesday just hours after claiming the company had treated him poorly.The 30-minute, closed-door meeting, which was confirmed by representatives from both the White House and Twitter, focused on "the health of the public conversation" on social media and ways to respond to the opioid crisis, according to a Twitter spokesperson.
Because who's better positioned to discuss "the health of the public conversation" than Donald J. Trump?
That, however, wasn't what made the meeting notable. Rather, what's probably more important is how the president conducted himself during the Oval Office conversation.
The Washington Post reported, "A significant portion of the meeting focused on Trump's concerns that Twitter quietly, and deliberately, has limited or removed some of his followers, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation who requested anonymity because it was private. Trump said he had heard from fellow conservatives who had lost followers for unclear reasons as well."
It's amazing just how stubborn Trump can be, resisting reality even when it's slowly explained to him.
As Twitter has made clear, over and over again, the social-media platform routinely removes bots, spammers, and other fraudulent profiles, which in turns leads to fluctuations in follower counts, especially among high-profile users.
I have a fairly modest footprint on Twitter, but even I have seen my follower count drop sharply following a purge of fake accounts. When that happens, it can be a little jarring, but it never occurred to me that Twitter was acting in a "very discriminatory" way against producers for The Rachel Maddow Show.
Trump, on the other hand, who has a massive Twitter footprint, instinctively embraces a conspiracy theory, even after learning the truth.
And so, instead of having a constructive conversation about the importance of social media, the American president spent "a significant portion" of his meeting with Twitter executives whining about something he ought to know but struggles to understand.
What a wasted opportunity.