The president of the United States has long-running beef with the actress Rosie O’Donnell, and that is not even the most surreal sentence I have written today.
But this is not about me: It’s about Donald Trump and it’s about his tweet to O’Donnell at 3:55 p.m. “We finally agree on something Rosie,” says the tweet, published via Trump’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump.
Trump was referring to a December 20, 2016, tweet by O’Donnell, which said: “FIRE COMEY.”
At the time, many Hillary Clinton supporters were calling for James Comey, the now-ousted FBI director to be fired for having made public a re-examination into Clinton’s misuse of a private email server days before the presidential election. Comey’s handling of that incident was offered as justification for Trump’s decision to fire Comey this week.
In defending the move, which has created a firestorm of criticism, Trump has been reminding people that Democrats asked for him to fire Comey. Hence the O’Donnell tweet. Questions about what, exactly, the president of the United States is up to have officially reached fever pitch.
Questions like: Is Donald Trump reading Reddit?
As Brandon Wall, a reporter for BuzzFeed pointed out, Trump’s tweet to O’Donnell came shortly after O’Donnell’s December tweet was published to the Reddit forum r/ The_Donald.
The idea that the president of the United States is checking Reddit is maybe perplexing—doesn’t he have better things to do?—but not outlandish. After all, Trump won the meme wars before he won the presidency, as Ben Schreckinger wrote for Politico:
By the fall, a team in the war room at Trump Tower was monitoring social media trends, including The_Donald subreddit—a message board that acted as a conduit between 4Chan and the mainstream Web...” Schreckinger wrote “and privately communicating with the most active users to seed new trends, according to two former Trump campaign officials. The team would bump up anything particularly catchy to social media director Dan Scavino.
Trump’s staffers have rebuffed the idea that they keep close tabs on Reddit, but there’s plenty of evidence that Trump—a voracious media consumer with a reputation for being obsessed with cable TV—actually does respond to media in near real time. It’s a two-way street: newscasters have responded immediately to Trump’s tweets on-air, too.
Trump is mostly a TV guy. And he’s famously computer averse—when an image of him using a computer once surfaced, it made headlines. So it’s most likely that this particular presidential Reddit-to-Twitter moment was prompted by a White House staffer. (Or, you know, it could be a coincidence. Riiight.) And though the Trump tweet was sent from an iPhone—another possible sign that a staffer sent it, versus tweets sent by Trump’s own Android phone—it’s conceivable Trump would delight in Reddit’s vibe. The_Donald forum, especially, is known for being particularly brash. Just like the president.
Reddit, for its part, has mixed feelings about all this.
“Haha what an honor, congrats man,” one user wrote on Reddit, after another user suggested a White House staffer had seen the O’Donnell tweet on Reddit. “I'm no expert but i think this pretty much makes you pals with the God Emperor himself.”
“Trump retweeted this 20 minutes after this post went up,” another commenter said. “The POTUS is a redditor and I don't know how to feel about that.”