President Trump spent Saturday gooning it up on Twitter, calling for the Washington Post to fire Dave Weigel—formerly of Slate—for tweeting a photograph that did not accurately represent the number of people who attended his Pensacola rally Friday. The crowd was there to hear Trump, who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by more than 10 women, throw his support behind Roy Moore, a man who has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old, so from a certain point of view, the fewer attendees the better, but good luck convincing the president. At issue was this since-deleted tweet from Weigel, contrasting Trump’s claim that his Pensacola rally was “packed to the rafters” with a photo of a nearly empty auditorium:
Unfortunately, the photo was from before the rally. Trump—or whoever is running his Twitter account these days—seized on the inaccuracy, demanding an apology and retraction from the Washington Post.
.@DaveWeigel @WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in. Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo! pic.twitter.com/XAblFGh1ob— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017
It’s unclear why or how the Washington Post would issue a retraction for a tweet from a reporter’s personal account, but as we’ll see, the demand wasn’t made in particularly good faith to begin with. Weigel—who had promptly deleted the tweet when his mistake was pointed out to him—was happy to oblige, personally apologizing to the president on Twitter:
But an apology was apparently not enough, because Trump almost immediately mischaracterized what Weigel had said and called for him to be fired from the Washington Post.
.@daveweigel of the Washington Post just admitted that his picture was a FAKE (fraud?) showing an almost empty arena last night for my speech in Pensacola when, in fact, he knew the arena was packed (as shown also on T.V.). FAKE NEWS, he should be fired.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017
RIP Weigel’s Twitter mentions. In retrospect, it should have been obvious that Trump, who spent the first full day of his presidency lying about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, would not be quick to forgive anyone who implied he was less popular than he claimed. (Former White House Press Secretary/fellow-inauguration-crowd-size-liar Sean Spicer retweeted his ex-boss’s call for Weigel to be fired, which is just pathetic.)
Weigel has been a political football for conservatives before: In 2010, he resigned from his first stint at the Washington Post after emails mocking Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and other conservative intellectuals were leaked, causing a similar uproar from the right wing. But this is presumably the first time he’s had the president of the United States gunning for his job. He’s not alone, though: Trump also called for Brian Ross of ABC to be fired* at his rally Friday night, a demand he repeated in an early-morning tweet:
Fake News CNN made a vicious and purposeful mistake yesterday. They were caught red handed, just like lonely Brian Ross at ABC News (who should be immediately fired for his “mistake”). Watch to see if @CNN fires those responsible, or was it just gross incompetence?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017
Dignified! An easy way to support Weigel’s work while he’s singled out for Trump’s Two Minutes Hate is by buying his book, The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock, which has nothing to do with Donald Trump, Roy Moore, or online thuggery. Meanwhile, Twitter comedians are fabricating their own feuds with Trump, which are at least as credible as the actual president’s obsession with the crowd sizes. @Pixelatedboat conducted an investigation into Trump’s fast food habits:
Oh no, now Trump is coming after ME! pic.twitter.com/0GGS3IDav5— Pixelated Ho Ho Hoat (@pixelatedboat) December 9, 2017
@KrangTNelson was also focused on the president’s gastrointestinal tract, albeit a little further down:
Oh, wait—that last one is real. What a world!
*Correction, Dec. 10, 2017: This piece originally misspelled Brian Ross’ first name. (Return.)