On Wednesday morning, the account of President Trump tweeted this:
NBC news is #FakeNews and more dishonest than even CNN. They are a disgrace to good reporting. No wonder their news ratings are way down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 4, 2017
As it turns out, he wasn’t the only one who tweeted that message:
I don't think Trump did this tweet pic.twitter.com/HXZHPr6Nls
— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) October 4, 2017
Trump, in contrast to previous presidents with Twitter accounts, is generally understood to write a great deal of his tweets himself. But Wednesday’s tweets are a good reminder that this isn’t always the case and that we know less than we think we do about who conceives and types out each of the tweets from his personal account. But we do know that there’s at least one other person Trump trusts to help him tweet in a particularly Trumpy way: the White House’s director of social media, Dan Scavino. He’s the guy seen above, tweeting the exact same thing as Trump at the exact same time.
Politico called Scavino “the other @realdonaldtrump” in June, a “mini-me” of the president’s own particular way of expressing himself online. Scavino has worked for Trump for a long time — as a general manager for one of Trump’s golf courses and then as his social media conduit during the campaign. As Politico notes, Scavino has said that he sometimes tweets for Trump, taking dictation from the president while making sure the tweet looks like it was written by Trump himself.
And like his boss, Scavino has also been connected to some questionable social media decisions. He fell for a hoax during Hurricane Irma, tweeting an incorrectly attributed video from his own account, claiming that it showed the Miami airport (it did not). One of his tweets violated the Hatch Act, according the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. And during the campaign, when Trump’s account tweeted an anti-Hillary Clinton meme featuring a six-pointed star that some believed was anti-Semitic, Scavino released a statement explaining why he had selected — and later deleted — the image for Trump’s account:
The social media graphic used this weekend was not created by the campaign nor was it sourced from an anti-Semitic site. It was lifted from an anti-Hillary Twitter user where countless images appear. The sheriff’s badge — which is available under Microsoft’s “shapes”— fit with the theme of corrupt Hillary and that is why I selected it.
Scavino told The Washington Post last year that he and other staffers feed Trump ideas for his tweets. “He reads everything we give him, and we keep bringing him and feeding him. And he sees a lot, sometimes he brings stuff to us we haven’t seen,” he said.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about how, precisely, this process works, or what Trump is being shown and what he is finding on his own.
One social media hit that Scavino may feed to Trump: memes. Trump has occasionally tweeted memes and images that have gone viral on Reddit’s r/The_Donald or another part of the pro-Trump Internet, but it seems unlikely that Trump himself is the one browsing Reddit. Instead, as we’ve noted before, there’s some pretty decent speculation that Scavino might be the conduit between the posts in these communities and the president’s Twitter feed. And there’s at least one concrete example of Scavino using a meme just hours before it appeared on Trump’s own account.
Last March, Trump tweeted the following picture of Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.):
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017
In the days before his tweet, that image had been shared widely across the pro-Trump Internet. And hours before Trump tweeted it out, Scavino tweeted it to Schumer himself:
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) March 3, 2017