When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wanted President Trump to reassure DACA beneficiaries of their immunity to deportation over the next six months, she did not ask the president to issue a news release or to make a statement during his Thursday afternoon news conference. She asked him to tweet.
And he did.
Pelosi told reporters on Thursday morning that she had talked to Trump by phone earlier in the day and made the request.
“I was reporting to my colleagues,” she said. “I said, 'This is what I'm going to ask the president to do,' and boom, boom, boom, the tweet appeared. So that was good.”
That Pelosi asked Trump to deliver the message is no surprise. That the 77-year-old congresswoman asked the 71-year-old president to use Twitter as the medium is pretty remarkable. It is a testament to the growth of Twitter's role as a popular news source.
Coincidentally, the Pew Research Center published a study on this very subject on Thursday. It found that a whopping 74 percent of Twitter users in the United States now get news from the microblogging service. That's up from 59 percent last year.
Isn't news consumption on social media, in general, on the rise? Sure. But Twitter's increase stands out.
In raw numbers, Facebook remains a much bigger news source than Twitter, even though Twitter's rate of news consumption is now higher. Some quick math: If 68 percent of Facebook's 203 million U.S. users get news on the social network, we're talking about 138 million people; 74 percent of Twitter's 68 million U.S. users is about 50 million people.
Still, a 15-percentage-point jump in a single year is impressive, especially when you consider that the rate of news consumption on Twitter grew by 7 percentage points between 2013 and 2016. Returning to raw numbers for a moment, Pew's findings indicate that the number of Americans getting news on Twitter has increased by 22 million in the past four years — and by 11 million in the past year alone.
Pew did not attempt to explain the spike, but the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard wasn't out on a limb when it wondered whether a “Trump bump” could have something to do with it.
Pelosi probably didn't have all these numbers running through her head when she asked the president to tweet. But she is surely aware that with Trump in the White House, more and more Americans are getting their news on Twitter, which helps explain why she was so excited to see him tweet a reprieve for “dreamers.”