I'm not sure that I can place the first time I heard the story of how Donald Trump's tweets are made. It feels like it was born Athena-style from the brain of a late-night talk show writer, only to fester and mutate like all great and terrible lore through the oral tradition (in modern-day terms: Facebook, Twitter, and click-y headlines). And honestly, I can't really remember a time when Trump's tweeting wasn't happening, or a time when it wasn't coming up every few weeks in a profile or an interview or tongue-in-cheek writeup.
I'll admit that on the surface, it's almost too perfect. Trump, a prolific Twitter user with a brand, doesn't type all of his own tweets. By day, he dictates them (punctuation included) to one of those "tremendous young ladies." By night, just when Twitter starts to get good and weird, he lays in bed — on what I can only assume to be sheets made from hundred-dollar bills haphazardly stitched together — and taps out his maniacal missives with his own itty-bitty hands. When put into the right hands, I've absolutely laughed out loud, snorted, and choked on coffee reading various retellings of this mythic tale.
It's a story that works on a few levels. It exposes the men behind the curtains of Trump's great and powerful Oz, plays into all the Scrooge McDuck stereotypes about the super rich that we all love to hate, and conjures the image of Trump as a nocturnal, basement-dwelling Twitter troll. But after a while — say, during a major prime-time sit-down interview months (centuries in digital media time) after this little nugget became old news — the story isn't fun or entertaining anymore.
So maybe, just maybe, it's time to retire it for good?
Admittedly, a huge part of my hatred for this little anecdote — and let's be real, all the little supposedly ~humanizing~ stories that crop up during the election cycle, save for the decidedly not-at-all humanizing Ted Cruz chunky soup story — comes from the fact that I'm a fun-hating grump. I'll own that. If you're spending every day following policy and politics, there will always be moments are bound to make you roll your eyes — and this one's mine.
But there's also point at which asking about Trump's tweeting feels like sending him slow-lob softball questions — looking for soundbites that match the answers that we already know — and it feels particularly icky and tiring at this stage of the election. By allowing Trump to get a few laughs from a crowd in between his tirades against women, Muslims, and any other demographic that's not male and pale, it feels like we're playing into a narrative that's Trump-approved and Trump-curated. Maybe it's just that existentially fraught feeling that no jokes, ridicule, or in-depth report will ever put a dent in Trump's armor of ego and bluster, but somehow, some way, it still feels like he's winning.