On Thursday, President Donald Trump stood in front of a room of some of his most beloved keyboard warriors and Don Jr. to speak about the conservative fever dream de rigueur: shadow banning. According to a poster at Trump’s social media summit, shadow banning is “the subjective hiding or demotion of a social media user’s visibility, typically in search results.” But what conservatives tend to cite as social media bias is usually just platforms enforcing their few rules against harassment and racism. The idea that platforms are specifically and secretly targeting Trump’s favorite Twitter friends is a paranoid fantasy tailor-made to check every neurotic, insecure box on our president’s list, so of course he loves it.
So, what did Trump have to say about social media at the social media summit? Unclear. While Trump has certainly not been well by any definition of the word in years, the pressures of the presidency do seem to have exacerbated whatever it is currently eating away at the soiled dregs of his brain. It’s easy to become numb to the reality of the situation, which is that our lives are in the hands of a man with the attention span and mental capacity of a particularly addled frog, but Trump’s performance today will almost certainly correct that.
We’ve transcribed some of the more astounding portions of Trump’s hour-long, rambling diatribe below. We’re sorry.
On the Economy
So I’m thrilled to welcome you here, and we’re all working very hard, and I don’t know if you know but we just had 27,000 on the Dow. That’s the highest in history. We’re up a couple of hundred points today—the highest in history, for those of you that like the stock market.
But the stock market means jobs. I view it as jobs. And I view it as 401Ks. A lot of people say, “Oh, the rich people are getting rich.” But if you look at the numbers, the greatest impact proportionately is blue collar workers, in what’s happened, in this miracle that’s happening.
And people with 401Ks, they’re up 72 percent and 67 percent. And the wife or the husband, whoever is responsible, the other one says, “You’re a genius. You’re a great financial investor. Darling, you’re up 77 percent this year.” So a lot of good things happen. A lot of people are happy, and I think really everybody’s happy. Some people just aren’t willing to admit it. Does that make sense?
On White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino
We’re delighted to be joined at this summit by someone you know very well, our senior adviser for digital strategy, and somebody that’s been working for me for a long time—for many years—Dan Scavino. Where’s Dan? Stand up, Dan. So, long before we were even doing this, he was at a club. Running a club, and other businesses. And he was okay at doing it. Not the greatest. I wouldn’t say the greatest. But, you know what he was great at? He was always looking at his computer screen. I said, “That guy’s incredible.”
So right at the beginning, I said, “That’s the man.” And there was nobody better at that. And I think Hillary had 28 people, and I had Dan. Right? I had my Dan! And he works about 28 hours a day, and he works very hard. But he doesn’t work. I mean, he loves it. He loves it. And his imagination, and really working with all of you, and many of you. He’ll come up with ideas, and you’ll come up with ideas. And he’ll run into my office, he says, “You got to see this.” And a lot of times I’ll go out, and I’ll spend a lot of money on a concept. I’ll say, “Here’s a concept. Come up with this.” And we’ll hire these companies, and they want a lot of money, and they come back. Just happened the other day, right? I said, “That’s terrible. These guys have no talent.”
The people that have the talent are the people that we deal with. And it’s true, and some of you are extraordinary. I can’t say everybody, but no, but some of you are extraordinary. The crap you think of is unbelievable. Unbelievable.
On the Census Citizenship Question
Can you believe… “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?”
“Sir you can’t ask that question.”
“Because a court said you can’t.”
We have three very unfriendly courts. They fight us all the way. The judges don’t like us too much, I guess. But think of that, Herman, think of that question. “Are you a citizen?” We spend—this is another thing that’s so crazy—$20 billion on a census, $20 billion. They spend $20 billion! I said, “Twenty billion WHAT?” Twenty billion dollars. On a census. They go through houses. They go up. They ring doorbells. They talk to people. How many toilets do they have? How many desks do they have? How many beds? What’s their roof made of? The only thing we can’t ask is, are you a citizen of the United States? Isn’t it the craziest thing? Twenty billion. Pretty amazing.
On What’s Happening
But I’ll tell you, a lot of bad things are happening. I have people come up to me: “Sir, we want to follow you. They don’t let us on.”
And it was so different than it was even six, seven months ago. I was picking up unbelievable amounts of people. And I’m hotter now than I was then, OK? Because you know, you also cool off, right? You do. But I’m much hotter. Especially with a nice, new stock market like it is. Right?
But no. I’m hotter now, and I go to Dan, I say, “Hey, what’s going on here?” It used to take me a short number of days to pick up 100,000 people. I’m not complaining; we’re like at 60-some-odd million. But then we have five different sites. We have another site with 25 million. We have another site with 10 or 12. Then we have Facebook. Then we have Instagram. We have a lot!
We got a lot of people. Way, way over 100 million, but I used to pick them up… And when I say “used to,” I’m talking about a few months ago. I was picking them up, a hundred thousand people every, very short period of time. Now, it’s, I would say, ten times as long. And I notice things happening when I put out something—a good one, that people like, right? Good tweet. It goes up. It used to go up, it would say 7,000, 7,008, 7,000, 7,017, 7,024, 7,032, 7,044. Right?
Now it goes, 7,000, 7,008, 6,998. Then they go, 7,009, 6,074. [Audience boos] I said, “What’s going on?” Now, it never did that before. It goes up, and then they take it down. Then it goes up. I’d never had that. Does anyone know what I’m talking about with this? [Audience screams “yes”] I never had that before. I used to watch it. It’d be like a rocket ship when I put out a beauty. Like when I said, remember I said somebody was spying on me? That thing was like a rocket. I get a call two minutes later: “Did you say that?”
I said, “Yeah, I said that.”
“Well, it’s exploding. It’s exploding.”
I turned out to be right. I turned out to be right. We turned out to be right about a lot of things. But I never had it.
On Setting the News Cycle
I said watch, I’m going to do this. And I said, “We recognize the Golan Heights as being part of Israel.” It was a big thing. I go, watch this: boom! I press it, and within two seconds: “We have breaking news.” John Roberts of Fox was over. He said, “We have breaking news. Please, break it up.” Doesn’t matter what they’re talking about, John does it. He breaks it up.
Now, that’s Twitter. That’s social media. I call Twitter a typewriter. That’s what I really call Twitter, because it goes onto Facebook automatically. And it goes onto Instagram, and it goes on to television—moreso Fox than it does CNN. If it’s something bad, they’ll put it on.
If I have a spelling deal, they will put it on. “Donald Trump spelled the word ‘the’ wrong.” You know? “He doesn’t know how to spell ‘the.’ He spelled it t-h-i.” You know? I couldn’t care… Any kind of a punctuation mistake, they put it on. So I’m very very careful. I, really… I’m actually a good speller, but every once and… The fingers aren’t as good as the brain.
But, but it is true. And it’s incredible what it does. I put out a social media statement, and I was telling Kellyanne the other day. I said, “You know, I used to put out, like, a press release.” Right? And people would pick it up, sort of, you know. The next day, two days, they’d find it sitting on a desk. If I put out… We hardly do press releases anymore, because if I put out on social media, a statement, like I’m going to in a little while on something totally unrelated (but a very important statement—now they’re going crazy, “What is it? Tell me,” but it’s very important), but if I put that out in a press release, I’m telling you, Kevin. People don’t pick it up. It’s me, same. If I put it out on social media, it’s like an explosion. Fox, CNN, crazy MSNBC.
On NBC in General
They’re stone cold crazy. I made them a lot of money with The Apprentice, and I gave them a top show when they were dying on NBC. But they don’t like me too much. They wanted a big extension. They used Arnold Schwarzenegger instead. Big movie star. You know what? He died. He died.
I was there 12… 12 years, 14 seasons, and then they pick a movie actor. And he dies on us.
You know, I own that with Mark Burnett and some people. And I said, they said, “Would you rather have him had been, like, this tremendous massive success? You own it, so you benefit financially. Or would you rather have him die, so that you say you did it for 14 seasons, 12 years.”
I said, “I think I’d rather have him die at it.” That means you don’t need the money. I’d rather have him die at it. Anyway, but with amazing creativity and determination, you’re bypassing the corrupt establishment.
On the Loyalties of Tech Execs
So you know, they’re playing with a lot of minds and they’re playing unfairly. And the funny thing is that, in theory, they shouldn’t be liking the other side. They shouldn’t be liking the other side. They should be really liking our side, because we’re the ones that won freedom. Far more.
You see what’s happening up on the debate stand. You see what they’re doing to each other. You’re seeing the hatred that they have up there, and it’s a very different philosophy. It’s a very different thought.
On Whether There’s a Word Called “Communism”
Because what they’re looking at is pure socialism, or worse than socialism. You know, there’s a word called “communism,” too. There’s a word—they don’t like to use it. Very rarely do you hear that. But there’s a word called “communism,” and they’re trying to get socialism over the line. But these people are… This is beyond socialism, to a large extent. And I think that we’re going to have a tremendous success.
On Types of Weather
We had, on the Mall just the other day, 4th of July, a tremendous success. It was pouring. The weather was just… It was beautiful in one way. They learned it was my real hair that day, because I was drenched. Well, that is the one good thing. I ran, and they learned it’s my hair.
Because I’ve been through every windstorm, sandstorm. Let’s go over here. Let’s go. This one, that one. This desert. Let’s go to this ocean, and get out of the plane, sir. The wind is blowing at about 70 miles an hour. I said, “Boy, it’s gotta be… It’s gotta be mine.”
But, uh, but we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen it all.
On Platform Biases
But we run out of here… Shadow-banned, a hundred percent. You look at what’s going on. You know, I could go… The blocking, just the basic blocking of what we want to get out. The fact that they don’t let them join. They don’t. There was…. There’s no doubt in my mind that I should have millions and millions…
I have millions of people, so many people I wouldn’t believe it. But I know that we’ve been blocked. People come up to me, and they say, “Sir, I can’t, I can’t get you. I can’t follow you. They make it impossible.” These are people that are really good at what they do. They say they make it absolutely impossible. And you know we can’t have it. We’re not going to let it happen.
Josh, we’re not going to let it happen. And you know, if they did it on both sides, if it were done to the other side, to the other group… And I’m representing everybody. I do, I represent everybody. I fully understand liberal. I fully understand Democrat. We want to get along. We want to make sure that everybody loves each other, if that’s possible. And maybe, I really believe it is.
On the Infamous China/Farmer Feud
And you know, the farmers say, “We just want a level playing field, sir.” I love the farmers. They’re patriots. And China, as you know, targeted the farmers, because they think they could get to me by hurting the people that I love and that we take care of. And, it had no impact. I would watch—even on networks that don’t exactly like me—and I’d watch as they interview farmers, and they’d have ten or 12 people sitting. They’d say, “We don’t care. The president’s right. We’ve been ripped off for many years. Somebody has to do… Somebody had to do this.” China made over the last ten years hundreds of billions of dollars, you could say four to five hundred billion dollars a year.
On Having Conversations with Silicon Valley CEOs
So one of the advantages of being president is, when you ask for a meeting, you get it generally. I don’t know. I can’t think of too many I haven’t gotten. And you say, “I’d like to see in the Oval Office…” Or you have somebody call “Oval Office.” I’ve been with all of these people, at the highest level, one-on-one. Just recently with Google, just recently with Twitter, the top. All right? And you talk to them, and you swear, they’re like your best friend. “Oh, sir. No. We believe. We… Freedom of speech. Oh yes. Absolutely.” And we go…
So, it’s very interesting to see that. And and the level of, you know, you look at them… The sincerity! And I say, that’s fantastic. And they’ll leave, and then I’ll realize, three or four weeks later, it’s worse. It actually got worse. Because I say, look, I believe in technology. I believe in free markets. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in all the things. And, and they are super genius. […]
But I tell you what, technologically, it’s unbelievable what they think up. Even Dan and I, when we sat with you-know-who, at Twitter. Number one. We talked about certain things. He said, “Yeah, well we could do this, this this.” I said, that’s really great. You know, this is incredible stuff. China will admit there’s nobody like these brains. But they’re not using that brilliance and they’re not using what we gave them fairly. And they have to do that.
And we don’t want to stifle anything, we certainly don’t want to stifle free speech, but that’s no longer free speech.
On What Else Doesn’t Count as Free Speech
See, I don’t think that the mainstream media’s free speech, either. Because it’s so crooked. It’s so dishonest. So to me, free speech is not when you see something good, and then you purposely write bad. To me, that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech. Somebody came to my office, I won’t say who, but a very big person. And I said OK, you don’t like the term fake news, which I think I get credit for. But I’m sure, if I said I get credit, they’ll say, “Thirteen years ago somebody came up with a term.”
I think I get credit—I’d be very proud to take it.
But I think I get credit. Now by the way, the worst fakers of all are using fake news. I saw the other day, on CNN—total fakes—I see on CNN, they go, “Fake news media has reported…” No, no, THEY’RE fake news media. They’ve turned it around. They’ve turned it around.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus