How Trump's Video Tweets Become Television News Footage

Looking through galleries of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news broadcasts over the past 5 years of all the places "@realDonaldTrump" appears reveals something fascinating: in addition to onscreen appearances of his tweets and the occasional appearance of his Twitter handle in the background of a campaign rally, there are numerous instances of ordinary presidential meetings and events that are credited to "@realDonaldTrump" at the top or bottom of the broadcast. For example, this brief July 21, 2019 clip of Trump at the White House or this December 26, 2018 footage of him in Iraq. While it is unclear just how widespread this practice is, it happens enough to be fairly visible in the archive.

Why are such ordinary scenes of presidential life being credited to the president's Twitter account? Because amazingly they each came from his Twitter account.

The White House footage actually comes from a July 26, 2017 tweet, while the Iraq video was sourced from a presidential tweet earlier that day.

The willingness of television news networks to run footage provided directly by the president on his Twitter account shows the unprecedented control he wields over the visual narrative of his presidency, providing networks hand-selected footage that presents him in the most presidential light for every occasion.

Even as the media criticize Trump for bypassing them, they tacitly accept his Twitter-first presidency by airing the footage he handcrafts for them.

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