We in the media are sometimes told not to write stories about Donald Trump’s latest Twitter tantrum, and that’s often good advice. But the latest one shows something incredibly troubling, and which is likely to be an ongoing feature of his presidency. We’ve long known that Trump is so petty and insecure that he can’t stop himself from lashing out at anyone who criticizes him.
But now we have to seriously ask how long it’s going to be before his vindictiveness gets somebody killed.
About a year ago, 18-year-old college student Lauren Batchelder stood up at a political forum in New Hampshire and told Donald Trump that she didn’t think he was “a friend to women.”
The next morning, Trump fired back on Twitter — calling Batchelder an “arrogant young woman” and accusing her of being a “plant” from a rival campaign. Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.
“I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” said Batchelder, now 19, who has never discussed her experience with a reporter until now. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”
This is what happens when Trump targets a private citizen who publicly challenges him.
When Trump tweeted about Batchelder in October 2015, he had fewer than 5 million followers; he now has more than 17 million and has bragged that having a Twitter account is “like owning the New York Times without the losses.” Twitter has become Trump’s cyber-magic wand, allowing him to quickly act on a fleeting idea, a fit of anger or something he sees on television. Now that he is the president-elect, the power of Trump’s tweets has only increased.Michael D. Shear reports at The New York Times:
Thirty years as a union boss in Indiana have given Chuck Jones a thick skin. But even threats to shoot him or burn his house down did not quite prepare him for becoming the target of a verbal takedown by the next president of the United States.
In what one Republican strategist described as “cyberbullying,” President-elect Donald J. Trump derided Mr. Jones on Twitter, accusing him of doing “a terrible job representing workers” and blaming him for the decisions by companies that ship American jobs overseas.
Mr. Trump’s message to his 17 million Twitter followers set off threats and other harassing calls to Mr. Jones. One caller left five one-minute messages, and two secretaries answering phones at the local’s headquarters have been similarly swamped.