Trump's 5 biggest fights with brands in 2020
Everyone loves a good feud, and looking back on 2020, there were plenty of rivalries to follow. But no one was more combative than President Donald Trump.
The pugnacious POTUS tussled with almost everyone, even mailboxes. Trump blasted Twitter, Google, TikTok and Facebook. He even scrapped with Goodyear. It would almost be easier to identify the people and businesses Trump didn’t fight. Here is Trump’s 2020 fight card:
Trump vs. TikTok
This has to be the most interesting presidential feud since John Kennedy and Frank Sinatra. This year, Trump made it his mission to ban TikTok. The Chinese-owned app has about 100 million users in the U.S., and some of those users were mean to him, too.
Just look at Sarah Cooper, the comedian whose career took off by making sarcastic lip sync videos to Trump speeches.
In June, TikTok users took credit for trolling Trump by pretending to be supporters signing up to attend a rally he planned in Tulsa. Trump was so excited when it looked like a million people would show up, and then no one did.
In August, Trump signed an executive order to ban TikTok, on national security grounds. Hmmm.
Winner: TikTok has seemed to have successfully waited out Trump, who will be leaving office in January.
Trump vs. Twitter
The outgoing president loves to use Twitter, but he hates the company. Trump was sent into a tizzy earlier this year when Twitter started to moderate his messages. One of his most vitriolic tweets of the year came during the George Floyd racial justice protests, when he suggested an armed response to demonstrators.
Twitter put a warning over his tweet that said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” What came next? That’s right, an executive order.
Trump tried to decree that social media platforms that interfere with his messages would lose protections under the law. It sparked a debate about Section 230 in the Communications Decency Act, which gives the platforms protections if their services are used by others to publish harmful content. Supporters of Section 230 noted that taking away that protection would just mean the platforms would censor more content, not less.
Republicans in Congress backed up Trump during highly unusual hearings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in October. Republicans were concerned about how the platforms helped bury a suspicious New York Post story that attacked Joe Biden.
Trump was also mad in November, blasting Twitter over allowing what he called “false trends” to become popular. The hashtag “#DiaperDon” was trending around that time.
Winner: Trump’s Twitter feud appears as if it will continue even after he leaves office. But Twitter has said that once Trump leaves office, his account will no longer have special protections afforded political leaders. Stay tuned.
Trump vs. USPS
Maybe this was the most fascinating presidential feud since George W. Bush and french fries. Trump and his Postmaster General Louis DeJoy waged an all-out assault on the U.S. Postal Service, apparently to prevent mail-in voting.
In April, Trump declared, “the postal service is a joke,” and he was threatening to withhold money from it while there were negotiations for a $2 trillion spending package to get the country through the pandemic. Trump was perturbed that the Post Office carries packages for internet companies like Amazon.
In August, DeJoy was removing neighborhood mailboxes and decommissioning mail-sorting machines.
Winner: The USPS received massive public support, including from celebrities like Tom Hanks, Mark Hamill, Taylor Swift and even “Cheers” mailman John Ratzenberger; in 2021, the USPS will still be delivering mail.
Trump vs. Fox News
This was an unlikely rift for the president and his once-favorite news channel. After the election, though, Trump was angry at how Fox News handled calling the race. Fox News was the first network to call Arizona for Biden, essentially dashing any hopes he had of winning.
Trump wanted the network to help proclaim that the election had flaws, and that he was the legitimate winner. But Fox News was not eager to spread that story too far, and Trump began urging his supporters to jump to other media like Newsmax and One America News Network.
“They forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose,” Trump said of Fox on Twitter in November.
Winners: Newsmax and OANN were able to ride some publicity and perhaps pick up some new loyal viewers. But Fox News' ratings were not impacted by the tiff.
Trump vs. Goodyear
Some of the biggest feuds are simple misunderstandings. Like the one Trump started with Goodyear over an internet hoax. In August, Trump saw an online post that claimed Goodyear banned employees from wearing hats that the support the president.
Trump called for a boycott of the tire company: “Get better tires for far less,” Trump tweeted.
The proclamation threw Goodyear into a public relations mess, and the company quickly noted that it had no such corporate policy.
Winner: It’s hard to declare a winner in this one. Goodyear handled the resulting fallout as well as it could. Trump won Ohio, Goodyear’s home state. But, really, does this kind of fight have any winner?