Tuesday afternoon produced one of the most news-heavy hours of Donald Trump’s presidency, if not recent American political history. In courtrooms fewer than 250 miles apart, Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations he said were orchestrated by Trump, while Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on eight charges that carry a maximum of 80 years in prison. Cable news had to use a split screen to accommodate the corruption.
But if the news was striking, the tweets it produced were familiar. Thanks to a loose coalition of political reporters and liberal/lefty Twitter personalities, there’s now a playbook for days like Tuesday. There are categories that must be filled, rites that must be observed. Here are a few of them:
The “So Far Today” Tweet. A tweet that lists every bombshell that has dropped in the last few hours. A magnet for retweets.
The “This Changes Everything” Tweet. In which a person of some gravitas—who usually works in cable news—declares that today may be the day Trump’s presidency changed forever. Tuesday, such a tweet was supplied by CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin.
The Never-Trumper Impeachment Tweet. In which a Trump-opposing conservative concludes (after a period of searching and reflection) that Trump must be impeached. The tweet is usually written more in sorrow than in anger. Tuesday’s winner was New York Times columnist Bret Stephens.
The Pile-on-Trump’s-Defenders Tweet. The idea of a conservative trying to spin the unspinnable makes Trump’s opponents salivate. American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, who insisted the felony plea and conviction had nothing to do with Russian collusion, made a strong run at being Tuesday’s victim-winner. But Schlapp was beaten by Federalist editor Mollie Hemingway’s immortal tweet: “Jury Fails to Convict Manafort on Majority of Counts.”
The Wilbur Ross “Don’t Forget About This Guy!” Tweet. Dedicated to scoundrels who escape the usual scrutiny because they get lost in the Trump news maelstrom. Tuesday’s winner was Representative Duncan Hunter, who was indicted for the misuse of campaign funds. The runner-up was White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, whom The Washington Post reported entertained a publisher of white nationalists at a birthday party at his home.
The “It’s a Good Day to Confess a Terrible Crime” Tweet. The meta version of the above. See here.
The Guilty Party’s Denials Are Dredged Up Tweet. In which reporters gleefully quote Cohen’s previous, over-the-top protestations of Trump’s innocence. (“I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly …”) A second cousin of “There’s a Trump Tweet for Everything.”
The “Guys, Fox News Isn’t Covering This” Tweet. Self-explanatory.
The “But Will This Seemingly Devastating News Actually Hurt Trump?” Tweet. Also self-explanatory.
The “Take a Bow, Reporters” Tweet. Given to journalists who were early to a story or angle that was borne out by later developments. Tuesday, such tweets were bestowed on The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Palazzolo, Michael Rothfeld, and Lukas I. Alpert for breaking the story of payoffs to Trump’s alleged mistresses before the election; to four New York Times reporters who wrote in April that the White House feared Cohen was a bigger headache than Robert Mueller; and to the Times’ Maggie Haberman and two other writers, who reported that Cohen would flip on Trump. Often preceded by, “It’s a good day to reread …”
The “There’s Too Much News” Tweet. This should be taken seriously (journos do get exhausted) rather than literally (few of them would beg off a story that could make their careers).
The Reax-to-Trump’s-Reax Tweet. Similar to the tweets that greet the sacrificial conservatives above. They tend to be Spock-like in the face of Trump’s emoting.
The Newspaper Front Page Tweet. In which a society that has mostly abandoned print fetishizes the front-page treatment of news they’ve known for hours. A nostalgic tweet about the way a heavy news day used to be.