Justin McConney was the president’s social media director at one time — and, according to his own accounting, the man who taught Donald Trump how to tweet. The plan was for McConney to write drafts for Trump to approve, but McConney likens the feeling of finding out that Trump was tweeting for himself to that scene in Jurassic Park where the Velociraptors learned how to open doors on their own.
Business Insider details that, in a new interview with Politico, McConney says that his stomach dropped.
“The moment I found out Trump could tweet himself was comparable to the moment in Jurassic Park when Dr. Grant realized that velociraptors could open doors. I was like, ‘Oh no.'”
McConney says that Trump started tweeting on his own in 2013, and what started out as observational commentary took a turn when the social media director thought that Trump needed to lighten up.
“[He] should go back to having more of a sense of humor about himself.”
Initially, McConney would print out any Twitter mentions, and Trump would respond by writing his thoughts for responses in sharpie on the paper. But soon enough, he told Politico, Trump was tweeting on his own, going from “Luddite to a full-blown Twitter addict” quickly.
McConney, who left the Trump administration last year, says that Trump should broaden his social media horizons — advising the president to start posting more personalized content to Instagram, particularly Instagram Stories.
McConney first started working with the Trump Organization when — as a recent film school graduate, and son of a Trump Organization comptroller — he was asked if he could create a video of Trump’s golf course managers at Mar-a-Lago. It was a foot in the door with the boss, who was impressed by McConney’s angle of focusing on the man instead of the rural properties. The film student was shocked to learn that the Trump Organization didn’t have a YouTube channel, or an online bank of films and clips.
The former social media director says that the Twitter handle @realdonaldtrump had existed since 2009, but Donald Trump himself had no real knowledge of it — or of the platform. McConney had Trump dip his toe in the water with YouTube to establish a social media presence.
“He seemed to be familiar with the names but not what you could do with them.”
The film school grad suddenly found himself with a job, and his first office was working out of the Trump Organization’s lunchroom. He set about to introducing the Donald Trump he heard on the Howard Stern Show to the world, and also turning the rest of the Trump family on to the virtues of social media.
McConney expressed some degree of agitation as Trump moved from writing in sharpie on the print version of Twitter to dictating tweets to him via phone at all hours of the day and night, according to Politico.
“Trump would call McConney on a Saturday to order up a tweet — then linger on the line for 20 minutes as others popped into his head, with Melania offering thoughts in the background. ‘Dude,’ I’m thinking in my head, ‘It’s the weekend,’ McConney recalled.”
Trump tweeted 8,000 times in his first year on Twitter.