Not long ago, Glenn Thrush, a White House reporter for The New York Times, sat down at 7:30 a.m. to plan his day. His schedule and laptop sat arrayed before him. With so much time to spare, he checked Twitter—an easy mistake to make—where he noticed someone saying something vile and ill-considered.
And then, somehow, 90 minutes passed. It was 9 a.m. No planning had gotten done.
“Someone had said something nasty and it had totally hijacked my day,” he said on Thursday. Twitter’s addictiveness, and its mysterious ability to speed the passage of time, were part of the reason that Thrush deactivated his own account on the platform earlier this month—an interesting choice for a White House reporter during the administration of a president who loves to break news on Twitter. On September 19, Thrush posted his last tweet and logged off. At least for now.
Now, he feels more in control of his day, though he lamented that he couldn’t promote his Times colleagues’ work anymore. But there were other workplace benefits to leaving the site. “I’ll just say straight-out, I think my bosses are pretty pleased with my decision to do this,” he said.
Twitter was just one of the topics that Thrush and two other politics reporters covered on Thursday at the Washington Ideas Forum, which is sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic. Thrush was joined by Katy Tur, a correspondent for NBC News; and Robert Costa, a national political reporter at The Washington Post and the moderator of Washington Week on PBS. During the forum, they discussed the many roles the media—social and otherwise—have played in the early Trump era.