WHITE HOUSE - Inclement weather prompted the cancellation of all White House events on Wednesday, including a Cabinet meeting.
And as snow began to swirl, President Donald Trump, in the White House residence, took to Twitter to continue attacking the special counsel examining alleged links between Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russia, and whether the president obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation.
Trump is known to quickly react on social media to news stories he sees in the morning on cable television channels and Wednesday was no exception.
Most notable, however, about Trump’s flurry of morning tweets – apparently triggered by stories on the Fox News Channel: Repeated misspellings and other errors.
Crazy definition. A bellwether is named for a castrated ram (a “wether”) that had a bell around its neck and led a flock of sheep.— Christopher Kimball (@cpkimball) March 17, 2018
A re-do of his initial tweet kept the “special council” mistake.
“Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller to be Special Council. I am still opposed to it. I think President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed because.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2018
The 17th-century French playwright Moliere noted that grammar “knows how to control even kings.” But such restraints don’t appear to hold a 21st-century American president.
The White House, however, is clearly spelling out what it thinks of any criticism of error-prone @realDonaldTrump tweets.
“I’m willing to bet most Americans are fixated on President Trump’s policies, which have clearly spelled out: ‘t-a-x-c-u-t-s’ and ‘m-o-r-e-m-o-n-e-y’ in their pockets," White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley tells VOA.
That is cold comfort for English teachers and other professionals whose livelihoods relate to proper use of language. Among many, Trump’s latest grammatically challenged epistles prompted more than the usual furrowed brows and hand-wringing.
Some took to Twitter to lament the latest tweets, tapped out on the presidential iPhone, arguing the presidency should be held to a higher linguistic standard, even on social media where typical messages are riddled with slang and shun capitalization while committing grammar crimes and syntax misdemeanors.
“If you’re representing the United States of America, you really want to be as accurate and precise in your use of language as possible,” Lisa McLendon, who runs the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas School of Journalism, tells VOA. “If you’re not, people will think that you’re sloppy – they’ll make all sorts of judgments. Whether that’s fair or not, people do.”
Some, however, see the content of Trump’s tweets as more important than the sloppiness.
“In general, his bad spelling, punctuation and capitalization are dismaying every day,” Mignon Fogarty, a former University of Nevada-Reno journalism professor, says. “Still, I think it's most important that we stay focused on his harmful policies and political actions.”
Fogarty, known on social media as “Grammar Girl,” tells VOA that the president’s “poor writing is the least of the things he does that bother me.”
Is it possible someone, even the president, a half-century beyond their last class in rules of language, could benefit from a refresher on grammar?
“I think that we never stop learning,” says McLendon, a former newspaper editor. “But you have to care about things like that and you have to want to improve.”