This morning, in what appears to have been an attempt to preempt an incriminating story about a series of emails between himself and a Kremlin-associated music publicist, Donald Trump Jr. decided to tweet. Specifically, he decided to tweet the exact damning emails that showed him arranging a meeting after being promised information supplied by the Russian government. To this point, these emails are the most explicit evidence of cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals. And Donald Trump Jr. tweeted them out.
This was a slightly distressing development for reporters like Jared Yates Sexton, who had spent a year reporting on the existence and contents of these emails:
Well. As internet commenters used to say, “First!”
The Trump patriarch has long crowed about using social media to do an end run around the press. (‘‘It’s my voice,’’ he told the Times’ Mark Leibovich.) But this is an end run unlike any they’ve ever done before. Usually, Trump’s tweets are more a way to bypass his own communications staffers than the media — he needs outlets like cable-news shows to pick up what they write on social media and spread it across the airwaves.
Trump Jr., on the other hand, is using Twitter to directly compete with the media. He just tweeted out what is a Pulitzer Prize–winning scoop! Granted, one that might put him in jail. But you can understand why Sexton might be freaking out. From a broader perspective, social media is making it easier for celebrities to speak directly to their small, rabid fan base, rather than going through the more scrutinizing press — even if that means shooting yourself in the foot, rather than letting someone else pull the trigger. Anyway, that’s the media industry now.