Bill O'Reilly to Donald Trump: You should never tweet again

Technically Incorrect: The leading Republican candidate defends his Twitter habits, but admits that he doesn't have time to check every statistic he retweets.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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A retweet is not a tweet. It doesn't actually come from the retweeter. This is Trump's argument.

Fox News/ YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Donald Trump sits inside the sandbox known as Twitter, digs both hands deep into the sand and then throws it up in the air without looking.

This is certainly my impression as I watch the leading Republican candidate tweet at whomever he pleases and retweet items that he may not have entirely absorbed.

But as Trump thumps closer toward the White House, is it time for him to detweet rather than retweet? The concept was floated Monday night by someone with a far more measured approach to communication: Fox News's Bill O'Reilly.

On "The O'Reilly Factor," the host tried to help Trump. He said he was "looking out for" him. What troubled O'Reilly was Trump retweeting some statistics that claimed 81 percent of whites were killed by blacks.

"That's totally wrong," said O'Reilly. "Whites killed by blacks is 15 percent, yet you tweeted it was 81 percent."

Trump attempted, astonishingly, to lecture O'Reilly on the finer points of Twitter: "I didn't tweet. I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert."

Sadly, the blog Little Green Footballs tracked down this expert. The credit on the chart Trump retweeted was "Crime Statistics Bureau. San Francisco." This doesn't actually exist. Indeed, as Little Green Footballs delved deeper it found that the first known sighting of these numbers came from someone with neo-Nazi tendencies.

For Trump, who has boasted that Twitter is one of his strongest weapons, a retweet is not a tweet. It's, well, something else.

"All it was was a retweet. It wasn't from me," explained Trump.

He added: "Am I gonna check every statistic?" Some might suggest that yes, that would be a good idea. Because the very thought of tweeting -- I'm sorry, retweeting -- a patently false statistic led O'Reilly to counsel his guest, saying, "You shouldn't tweet ever." He even mused that Trump should give tweeting (and presumably retweeting) up for Lent.

Trump vowed to keep on with his twittering. He said: "I like it because I can get my point of view out there, and my point of view is very important to a lot of people."

But is retweeting also expressing his point of view?

Sometimes, people retweet items to show how misguided the original tweeter was. This doesn't seem to be the case here.

This isn't the first time that Trump has retweeted to controversial effect. After the first Republican debate, he retweeted the notion that Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly was a "bimbo."

Some arms might now be akimbo at some of the ideas that emerge from Trump's mind and fingers. For me, I'm merely surprised that he didn't blame an intern, as he has once before.