PBS NewsHour


With 'angry' weekend Twitter storm, Trump took on GM, McCain

President Trump has long been a prolific Twitter user, but this past weekend, he tweeted with even greater frequency than usual, including more than 30 times on Sunday alone. In his fiery posts, the president attacked the news media, the late Republican Sen. John McCain, General Motors and "Saturday Night Live." Judy Woodruff talks to Yamiche Alcindor about an "angry" Trump's "misleading" claims.

AIRED: March 18, 2019 | 0:05:20

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do General Motors, John McCain, FOX News and "Saturday Night Live"

have in common?

Well, they have all been targets of President Trump's tweets in the past few days.

The president is usually a prolific tweeter, but this weekend was unusual even by his standards.

He posted 30 times on Twitter on Sunday alone.

White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor is here to walk through it all.

So, Yamiche, one reason this is getting so much attention is it comes on the heels of

the terrible massacre in New Zealand.

There's a connection, though, it turns out.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, the president has really been on quite a tweetstorm.

And his mood has been angry.

He's been venting on Twitter.

He's been telling his 60 million followers on Twitter that he's someone who's really

a victim of all sorts of conspiracies.

And the mood really started on Friday, when the president had an exchange in the Oval


He got some backlash for it.

Let's watch what happened.

QUESTION: Do you see today white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?

DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States: I don't really.

I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.

I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case.

I don't know enough about it yet.

They're just learning about the person and the people involved.

But it's certainly a terrible thing, terrible thing.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: There are a lot of people who think the president missed an opportunity

to really condemn white nationalism and to point out that there are hate groups that

are rising in numbers in this country.

I want to point out a tweet that he sent out today that followed up on that exchange.

He tweeted: "The fake news media, it's working overtime to blame me for the horrible attack

in New Zealand.

They will have to work very hard to prove that one.

So ridiculous."

And what the president is really saying there is that: Even though this person named me,

and the shooter in New Zealand said that the president was a symbol of renewed white identity,

I don't want anything to do with him.

And the media is really trying to create this story.

But I should tell you, the facts don't bear out what President Trump said in the Oval


The organization the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, they say that the -- that hate crimes

and white supremacist propaganda is on the rise.

And in 2016 and 2017 and 2018, it tripled.

The other thing to point out, the Southern Poverty Law Center said there are more hate

crimes in the United States now than in the last 10 years.

And a lot of those groups are white nationalist groups.

So, the president, as he says it's a small group, is just wrong here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yamiche, we know, separate topic the president was on, the White House

has been worried, been concerned about the coming results of the Mueller investigation.

But the president used that over the weekend to go after and attack the late Senator John


What did he say and what was that about?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: So I want to again read another tweet to you,

This tweet was from Sunday.

It says: "It was indeed just proven in court papers last in his class Annapolis John McCain

that sent the fake dossier to the FBI and media, hoping to have it printed before the

election, he and the Dems working together failed, as usual.

Even the fake news refused this garbage."

So what the president was talking about there was actually a FOX News segment.

Ken Starr, who was the former independent counsel when Bill Clinton, President Bill

Clinton, was being investigated, they were doing a story on that.

And the president was essentially tweeting what he was watching on FOX News.

Now, it's important to know, one, that the late John McCain, he died in August, and the

president has continued to attack him.

Meghan McCain, his daughter, and others have just found this to be tasteless.

It's also important to note that the president is in some ways saying that the Russia probe

was started by this dossier.

That's not true.

George Papadopoulos, a young adviser to the Trump campaign, he was bragging about Russia

having evidence against and dirt against Hillary Clinton to an Australian diplomat.

And that diplomat then told the United States, hey, you need to look into that.

And that's how the Russia probe started.

So the president's been misleading there.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And in a completely different vein, it's not just big names the president's

been going after.

He's gone after now a local union leader.

And what's that about?

What is it -- some connection to manufacturing jobs.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, I again want to read the tweet to you.

This is on Sunday.

He tweeted: "Democrat UAW Local 112 President David Green ought to get his act together

and produce.

GM let our country down.

But other, much better car companies are coming into the United States in droves.

I want action on Lordstown fast.

Stop complaining and get the job done."

Here again was the president tweeting about a segment that appeared on FOX News.

Just minutes before he sent this tweet out, FOX News did a segment about the fact that

he might have trouble being elected in the Industrial Midwest.

They were also pointing out that the president came to Lordstown or came to Youngstown, Ohio,

nearby Lordstown, and said, don't sell your car, everything's going to be good.

In fact, everything is not going well there.

Lordstown's GM plant is going to be idling.

That essentially means closing.

They're going to be a lot of people losing their jobs there.

And the president is feeling the heat here.

It's also important to note that that union leader, he said that he sent President Trump

two letters trying to work with him to get this GM factory still open and to keep it

operational, and he never heard back.

So it's unclear whether or not that plant is going to be closed for good.

But what's clear here is that the president is misleading.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Covering a lot of ground with these tweets.

Yamiche Alcindor, thank you.