It doesn’t take much to provoke President Trump into blocking a follower on Twitter — anything from an insult to an unflattering GIF to a mild “covfefe” joke seems enough to do the trick.
So it perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise that best-selling author Stephen King was abruptly added to the #BlockedByTrump list Tuesday. The horror fiction maestro has been one of Trump’s most consistent and creative Twitter critics since well before the November election: “A Trump presidency scares me more than anything else,” he told Ron Charles, editor of The Washington Post’s Book World, during a Facebook Live interview in September. “I’m terrified that he’ll become president.”
Trump, of course, did exactly that — and King continued to offer outspoken condemnation (and sometimes, outright mockery) in response to Trump’s Twitter missives. That is, until Tuesday, when King announced that he had apparently been blocked from viewing the president’s tweets:
The tipping point appeared to be a couple of pointed barbs aimed at the president’s Cabinet and his daughter, Ivanka Trump.
But it didn’t take long for another prominent Trump critic and literary icon to come to the rescue: Best-selling author J.K. Rowling promised that she would keep King informed of the president’s tweets.
Despite his dramatic initial tweet, King was quick to note that he wasn’t actually despondent. For many, in fact, being blocked by Trump — a phenomenon that has inspired a trending hashtag — is something of a mark of pride. Among left-leaning Twitter critics who make a point to respond directly to many of Trump’s tweets, some consider being blocked as a sign of success: Their words were getting through, and their messages effectively bothered the president, or at least someone monitoring his account.
Others, though, have found the abrupt cutoff more disturbing. Hours before King was barred from viewing Trump’s tweets, the president’s @realDonaldTrump account blocked VoteVets, a progressive advocacy group that claims to represent more than 500,000 veterans, military families and supporters. The group had decried Trump’s proposed travel ban, which limits travel from six predominately Muslim countries, as “unconstitutional, immoral” and a national security threat.
Some have questioned whether it is unconstitutional for a commander in chief to prevent certain members of the American public from seeing his public communications; this month, the Knight First Amendment Institute sent a letter to the president arguing that blocking Twitter users because of their opinions was a violation of the First Amendment.
As for King, the development caught him so off guard that he first questioned whether it was a hoax. But even if it wasn’t, he assured Rowling in a tweet that he’d be okay: “I’ll always have Pence.”