Donald Trump’s most recent Twitter mishap is proving to be his most controversial.
The president thanked his supporters in a retirement community called The Villages by tweeting a video of their golf-cart rally. But at the start of the video, one Trump supporter shouts, “White Power,” sparking outrage across the internet.
The internet was awash with angry tweets, op-eds, and scathing reports about the divisive tweet. Trump followed the tweet up with a series of virtual “wanted” posters seeking to identify protestors that allegedly defaced public property.
The whole ordeal stank of strategy.
First, there’s the fact that the “white power” chant was audible at the beginning of the video. Not only that, but it was repeated and confirmed—both by the Trump supporter and one of the anti-Trump protestors.
To believe that Donald Trump didn’t hear the chant, you’d have to assume he watched the video without sound. Based on some of the president’s off-the-cuff remarks, that may be believable–but it seems very unlikely.
But why would the president tweet a video with racist undertones at a time when Black Lives Matter protests have been raging across the country?
The answer to that could lie in John Bolton’s now-blocked tell-all book about the Trump administration. One of his revelations was Donald Trump’s ability to control the news cycle .
Bolton claims the president issued a shocking defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after he was found to have ordered the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to divert attention from a scandal involving his daughter Ivanka.
At the time, she had been using her personal email for government correspondence. Allowing that story to dominate the headlines would have been disastrous for Trump. After all, he called for Hillary Clinton to be jailed for the same offense.
Did Donald Trump set off a media storm to distract from something else? Maybe, as there are plenty of stories out there that he may not want in the headlines.
Take, for example, the surge in new virus outbreaks in the U.S . As new cases continue to rise, the U.S. now accounts for roughly 25% of the world’s infections. To put that in perspective, Americans make up just 4% of the world’s overall population .
Trump and Pence have tried to dismiss the high number of cases as the result of increased testing, but with the positivity rating in some states as high as 10% , the virus seems to be spreading faster than health officials can look for it.
There’s also a chance the president wants to take the heat off fresh accusations that he was aware of Russia’s bounty on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan . Trump has always framed himself as a strong supporter of the U.S. military, so evidence that he put their lives at stake for political gain would put a sizable dent in his campaign.
Maybe he didn’t hear the “white power” chant after all. But that would point to an arguably larger problem with his Twitter-happy thumbs. People with jobs ranging from low-level employees to top-level execs have been fired for less .