In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's shooting at YouTube headquarters, the president's eldest son had some thoughts. Specifically, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that the YouTube shooting showed how the NRA and its members are treated unfairly by major companies and the media. Or something like that.
Here's his tweet, verbatim: "You think there’s any chance whatsoever that a mass shooters hateful Instagram and YouTube channels would be pulled immediately if they were NRA members as opposed to liberal Vegan PETA activists? Asking for a few million friends in the @NRA"
Trump Jr. was referencing the social media accounts of the alleged shooter, reportedly a woman in her late 30s whose online posts sometimes took aim at YouTube for her perception that the company limited her ability to amass followers and views. The woman also appeared to support animal rights, as well as promote a vegan lifestyle.
Since Trump Jr.'s tweet went live, YouTube has removed the woman's accounts, saying they included "multiple or severe violations" of the company's user policy.
Apparently, Trump Jr. assumed YouTube and Instagram would have somehow even more immediately taken down the accounts of a shooter if that person belonged to the NRA and had been posting pro-gun messages? That's hard to imagine, given the fact that YouTube removed the shooter's page within 24 hours of the incident. (Her private Instagram page remains live.)
Trump Jr. faced plenty of immediate criticism for his tweet. Much of it veered into personal territory, with mention of his recently announced divorce, incorrect grammar usage, and insults about his intellectual capacity all making appearances in the tweet's comments. Many others criticized Trump Jr. for weighing in on a shooting that had hardly ended, and using the awful situation to start a political debate.
This is by no means the first time Trump Jr. has found himself in a social media tempest.
In July of 2017, Trump Jr. decided to tweet out screenshots of a series of his email exchanges with a Russian official, wherein the two discuss meeting to go over potentially damaging information the Russians were offering on Hillary Clinton. The move struck many as inexplicable, with Robbie Gramer writing at Foreign Policy, "There may be a universe in which publicizing email exchanges showing active — and eagerly sought — support from the Russian government for the Trump presidential campaign is a smart move. This is not one of them."
But Trump Jr.'s Twitter controversies usually come when he weighs in, as in the case of the YouTube shooter, on social issues. For instance, Trump Jr. took some heat when he liked a tweet by Rob Schneider asking why the news never reports that "ALL THESE MASS MURDERERS WERE ON ANTI-DEPRESSANT DRUGS?" Trump Jr. has also liked tweets that peddled conspiracy theories about Parkland survivor David Hogg. One insinuated Hogg was supposedly "running cover" for his father, a former FBI agent.
Trump Jr. also faced a deluge of scorn following a Halloween tweet that featured a picture of his daughter Chloe and the caption, "I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism." Apart from again using an inopportune moment to make a point about one's perceived political opponents, the tweet betrayed a rather shallow understanding of socialism on the part of Trump Jr. As Gabriella Paiella writes at The Cut, "nothing like a holiday in which the collective benefits from the distribution of free goods to illustrate that socialism is bad."
Long-time followers of Trump Jr.'s Twitter habits won't likely find anything terribly surprising in his Tuesday tweet defending the NRA against the imagined foe of special media privileges for vegan mass shooters.