Culture

Trump tweets up a storm after accusations emerge

Commentary: One of the biggest trending topics on Twitter concerns the president-elect. So much so that he invokes Russia and Nazi Germany in response.

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


Under pressure?

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Donald Trump can normally dismiss people and issues with one or two tweets.

When he decides to spend five on a subject, you feel it might be both serious and difficult.

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed published a report alleging Russia had collected compromising information about the president-elect. (CNET hasn't verified details of those allegations.)

You've possibly heard about some of these allegations. They suggest a rather intimate relationship between Trump and Russia, one that is less a casual fling and more a going-steady kind of thing.

The suggestion was Russia has enough personal information on Trump to be able to influence his governance.

Soon after it emerged, the unsubstantiated report received a Trump retort: "FAKE NEWS -- A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!"

Sadly, fake news has infiltrated the web and human thought to a considerable extent. Deciding what's real, what's fake and what's half-baked isn't always easy.

So it was little surprise that Trump followed up this tweet with another on Tuesday: "'BuzzFeed Runs Unverifiable Trump-Russia Claims' #FakeNews."

To this, he added a link to the story that carried this headline. It was from a little-known publication called LifeZette, whose stated mission is to offer "Life. Explained." Now that, some might say, is a little too lofty a goal for our current times. Oh, LifeZette's editor-in-chief is Laura Ingraham, a right-wing radio personality who was reportedly among those being considered to serve as Trump's press secretary.

Twitter, of course, is one of the president-elect's favorite ways to reach the people. He has 19.5 million followers, a little less than a third of the 63 million votes he received. He follows just a handful of accounts, many of which share his surname.

Even Donald Trump occasionally can't get ahead of the combustible lifeform known as Twitter, however.

Soon he was subjected to barbs aimed at particular personal proclivities described in the report. Soon, there were suggestions the intelligence agencies were taking this report cautiously, but seriously. They had, CNN reported, presented its details to both President Obama and Trump himself.

On Wednesday, just ahead of his first press conference in almost six months, Trump couldn't let the issue go.

"Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is "A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE." Very unfair!" he tweeted.

Regular Trump watchers would notice the use of many capital letters again. These usually suggest that the president-elect is quite unhappy. Taking Russia's word for anything, though -- especially when it comes to something of which Russia is itself accused -- might not be wise.

Even Rex Tillerson, Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, knows this. He called Russia a "danger" to the US in a confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Trump, though, wasn't done tweeting about Russia.

"Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA -- NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!" he offered. There go those CAPS again. And, on Twitter, there came the links that implied the Trump Organization has significant dealing with Russia.

Trump's final tweet on this latest disturbing twist in the saga was the most odd.

"Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to 'leak' into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?" he insisted.

There's no evidence that intelligence agencies did leak this allegedly fake news. Moreover, Trump himself has occasionally expressed a fondness for leaks. It was he who, on the campaign trail, uttered the immortal line: "I love WikiLeaks."

Some, though, might have paused at Trump's reference to Nazi Germany. I'm not aware that Nazi Germany was known as a place where fake news had a habit of leaking. Worse, some might observe, comparing America to Nazi Germany is riven with distaste.

The New York Daily News quoted Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, as saying: "It is a despicable insult to Holocaust survivors around the world, and to the nation he is about to lead, that Donald Trump compares America to Nazi Germany."

As five tweets fly and the political waters get ever murkier, it's tempting to use Trump's own vernacular: "There's something going on."

But what? And how will we ever know? From a substantiated report? Or from Twitter?