The loss of his MAGA-phone creates an uphill climb for former President Trump

By Jim Anderson | CEO, SocialFlow

Former President Donald Trump’s impeachment is set to start February 9, and while that will dominate the news, the result may not matter nearly as much as something Trump has already lost: his Twitter account.

Journalists, especially political journalists, love Twitter, and Trump consistently used the media’s collective obsession with Twitter to his advantage. His provocative Tweets appealed to his followers, and demanded the attention of journalists. Trump’s ability to control the news cycle was near-absolute and he was relentless in wielding it, firing off provocative Tweets at will.

The events at the Capitol on January 6 changed everything. Real-world violence caused a sea change in how tech platforms interpreted politicians’ Tweets. Formerly loath to muzzle a sitting president, Twitter ultimately banned @realDonaldTrump over what was a pretty tame tweet, at least by Trump’s standards.

He Tweeted on January 8 that he wouldn’t be attending the inauguration for Joe Biden. Few expected Trump to attend anyway, but Twitter worried the message would be interpreted by some as an invitation to violence. So Twitter pulled the plug.

The loss of his MAGA-phone creates an uphill climb for Trump in whatever he chooses to do next, as he will have a harder time gaining the attention of his followers. That will make it more difficult for him to wield power as a Republican kingmaker, or to rebuke those who have crossed him. He is still the former President and very popular with the Republican base. But whatever combination of messaging he comes up with is not going to have the same impact as his pithy 280-character missives.

Trump won’t go quietly into the night, and will find ways to use TV, radio, and other media to his advantage. There have been rumors of him creating his own media outlet, his own social network, or even his own political party. But without Twitter, Trump doesn’t have instant, wide access to the political news scrum. He’ll have a much harder time taking control of a news cycle.