The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The unemployment rate ticked up slightly. Cue the Trump Twitter distraction.

President Trump tweeted about a variety of subjects Friday morning, before the monthly jobs report was published. (Pool photo by Win McNamee via Bloomberg)

President Trump began his Friday by firing a scattershot of tweets about Iran, Australia, business leaders, anarchists, terrorists and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Marketplace” radio host Kai Ryssdal offered a theory about what Trump was up to.

Ryssdal's hypothesis gained supporting evidence when, 39 minutes after Trump finished his tweetstorm, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published its monthly jobs report, showing the national unemployment ticked up to 4.8 percent in January.

That's still a good number. It's barely higher than the 4.7 percent unemployment rate in December, and the 227,000 jobs added last month exceeded analysts' expectations. Also, Trump was president for only the last 11 (and a half) days of January, so the figures don't really reflect his economy — especially since the data was collected before he took the oath of office.

Trump: 'We're very happy' about jobs report (Video: The Washington Post)

Still, it is highly plausible that Trump is a wee bit self-conscious about having the first jobs report of his presidency show a slight increase in unemployment. Before he was even sworn in, Trump claimed to be making a positive impact on the economy.

Trump can't have it both ways; either he affects the economy or he doesn't. If he wants credit when consumer confidence goes up, he also must accept blame when unemployment does the same.

The media will surely point this out, Trump might have thought while taking an early look at the jobs report — so let's give those lowlifes six other things to talk about!

Trump certainly gave the press plenty to work with. His shot at Schwarzenegger extended a feud he rekindled at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, when he prayed for Schwarzenegger's lackluster ratings on “The New Celebrity Apprentice.”

Trump's charge that the “fake news media lied” about his testy phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just begs for a fact-check. At the prayer breakfast, Trump tacitly acknowledged the accuracy of a Washington Post report on the call when he said this: “When you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it. Just don't worry about it. They're tough. We have to be tough. It's time we're going to be a little tough, folks.”

And the tweet about “paid protesters” calls for a reminder (yes, another one) that there is no evidence that anti-Trump demonstrators are mercenaries. Ads offering to pay protesters have turned out to be hoaxes.

The subjects addressed in Trump's Friday tweets were so varied that it seemed as if he didn't know what he wanted to talk about. But he probably knew exactly what he wanted the media not to talk about.