President Trump spent at least an hour watching “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday morning, as he does. While he has at times responded directly to the show on Twitter, we can feel confident that he was watching, thanks to how his tweets match up with the programming.
Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz synced Trump’s tweets with the program, noting that Trump often records the show and watches it after a delay. In summary:
- 6:08 a.m. “Fox and Friends” talks about Democrats being obstructionist.
- 6:12 a.m. “Fox and Friends” reports on Rep. Frederica S. Wilson’s (D-Fla.) comments about his call to the widow of a soldier killed in action.
- 6:28 a.m. “Fox and Friends” discusses the NFL protests.
- 6:38 a.m. Trump tweets about how Democrats won’t vote for the bill he wants.
- 7:06 a.m. Trump tweets about the NFL protests.
- 7:25 a.m. Trump tweets that Wilson “totally fabricated” the conversation. (The Post has since found another source who agrees with Wilson’s story.)
The timelines don’t match up perfectly, it’s true. But what Trump was talking about is what “Fox and Friends” was talking about, and not for the first time.
There’s a point that’s worth drawing out of these timelines, though, one that’s been pestering me for months. Part of the delay in those tweets stems from the fact that Trump tweets awfully slowly.
There are so many more important issues in the world. I know that. But the time of a president of the United States is valuable, and Trump seems to spend an inordinate amount of time on tweets that, we will again remind you, most Americans wish he wouldn’t send.
We can’t know exactly how much time Trump takes on each tweet, but we can estimate it, thanks to his habit of continuing a thought from one tweet to the next. He did it just this morning, in fact, in tweets about former FBI director James B. Comey.
Trump jumped into a thought about Comey, ran out of characters and moved on to a second tweet. But notice the gap between them. The first was sent at 7:21 and the second at 7:27. The Twitter API (a system for automatically loading tweets) tells us that the exact time it took Trump to send the second tweet was 6 minutes and 29 seconds.
That seems like a long time to type 140 characters. Part of it, certainly, was trying to corral that secondary thought into precisely 140 characters. But even so, that’s a long time to spend.
It turns out that in the 99 instances in which Trump has had a multi-tweet thought since he took office, 6 minutes and 29 seconds is only slightly slower than the median (excluding a few outliers that we’ll get to). Usually when Trump sends a multipart tweet, it takes about 6 minutes and 25 seconds for him on average to get to Parts Two or Three.
The shortest gap between two tweets was 11 seconds, a gap that is clearly a function of having the tweets planned in advance. (The tweets, as shown above, were about a visit from the Chinese president.) The second-shortest gap was between two tweets that also found new relevance Wednesday: His denial that he had any tapes of his conversations with Comey. (Trump claimed to have proof that he hadn’t said what Wilson claimed.)
Those preplanned — and clearly lawyer-vetted — tweets came 12 seconds apart.
The longest gap between two tweets was more than three hours, when Trump started a thought about his proposed wall on the Mexican border and finished the thought after getting out of some meetings. That’s an outlier, though, so we excluded it.
Consider what this means. If Trump spends more than 6 minutes typing up, formatting and sending the second and third parts of a thought, there’s every reason to think that he spends the same amount of time on the original tweet. In other words, why would it be slower to write the second half of a paragraph than the first?
Since Jan. 20, Trump’s sent a truly amazing 1,817 tweets. If each took him 6 minutes and 24 seconds to write, that means that Trump has spent 11,653 minutes sending tweets as president. How long is that? It’s 8.1 days. It’s 3 percent of the entire time he’s been president.
These are estimates and they are impossible to verify estimates. But the evidence at hand supports the idea that days of Trump’s time in the White House have been spent on send out his Twitter messages.
So we make a simple request to Twitter. Since you’re rolling out an increase in the default character count to Twitter users, please do so for Trump. With a 280-character limit instead of 140, Trump would have to spend less time squeezing out extra letters — like his truncation of “Obamacare” into “O’care” Wednesday — and more time doing other things.
Perhaps things more directly related to the job of being president. Or at least, other, less controversial leisure activities, like watching TV.