After watching his communications team get pummeled all week for their uncoordinated response to the firing of FBI director James Comey, President Donald Trump suggested a possible fix early Friday. In a tweet, he said it may be better to do away with the press briefings entirely and hand out written responses to questions instead.
Twitter CFO and COO Anthony Noto saw this as an opportunity, and replied to the president’s tweet with an alternative suggestion. “May I suggest questions submitted and answered via Twitter. A perfect record and we distribute to the world not just those with a TV.”
Noto later clarified that he didn’t support canceling the press briefing, but people reacted critically to his first tweet after it appeared to suggest otherwise. The White House press briefing is viewed widely as an important democratic activity, one that gives reporters a chance to come face to face with the administration and ask questions informed by their reporting — then they can explain the responses with context to those not watching the White House full time.
The issue is particularly fraught since Press Secretary Sean Spicer already suggested Trump may replace traditional interviews with social media Q&As.
Twitter’s made no secret of the fact that it values Trump’s presence on its platform. “I believe it’s really important to hear directly from our leadership. And I believe it’s really important to hold them accountable,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told NBC in a clip released earlier this week.
Trump’s presence also appears to be helping the company grow its user base, according to a Noto statement on the company’s earnings call last month: “There also is some evidence that we’ve benefitted from our new and resurrected users following more news and political accounts in Q1, particularly in the US.”