WASHINGTON – President Trump has invited some of his most fervent digital warriors to the White House on Thursday for his first social media summit. Twitter was not there and his platform was down in the hours leading up to the event – the company accused an "internal configuration change".
But the president's favorite mouthpiece was back in time, just at the beginning of the summit, and it seemed to me that there was no better way to document the Lovers' Day between Mr. Trump and 200 of his most fervent followers online.
A little context is in order here. In business, we call this the "nut graf", which explains why history is important.
The President, unsurprisingly, said early on that he appreciated the power of his tweets: their ability to explode the Internet or to quickly react the anchors of CNN and MSNBC. He also mentioned that fewer people were engaging in his missives.
The public did not include traditional businesses that come to mind for social media: Twitter, Facebook and Google. Instead, Mr. Trump gathered a set of far-right voices that he said often worked with Dan Scavino, director of social media at the White House.
Trump touched on a variety of topics, including the strategy to beat Democrats in 2020.
But an uninvited guest distracted Mr. Trump by literally taking his face. A fly at the white house! History tells us that the president is easily distracted by these domestic insects. He seemed to recover quickly, though.
Mr. Trump raised the issue of the so-called shadowing ban last year after an article in Vice News claimed that some conservatives were deafened by Twitter's search function. This turned out to be wrong. Nevertheless, the president and his supporters are convinced that the online removal of conservatives is a real problem.
Repeatedly, Mr. Trump appeared to be gesturing to the individuals in the crowd while praising and reprimanding them for their misbehavior.
The president then answered questions from his supporters. In a practical way, the White House stopped broadcasting the event, closing it to observers.
Then a press conference on Mr. Trump's decision to drop the fight to ask a citizenship question about the 2020 census. The president, his attorney general and his trade secretary were led into the Rose Garden, where social media visitors were expected. The link between right-wing activists and legal issues related to federal data was unclear, but they encouraged it anyway.
As the rain began to fall, Mr. Trump came in and let his supporters quarrel with the reporters gathered to cover the event. Sebastian Gorka, a supporter and briefly a Trump administration official, quickly approached a reporter who described the guests as "greedy for demonic possession".
"Are you threatening me in the rose garden?" Said Mr. Gorka. The journalist, Brian Karem of Playboy, said no. Still, a song by Mr. Trump's supporters broke out: "Gorka! Gorka! Gorka! "Mr. Gorka then called Mr. Karem "punk". Another social media participant roughly suggested to the reporter that Mr. Gorka could take him to battle.
Twitter went extinct soon after, thus closing the social media event.
Kate Conger contributed to the story of San Francisco.