A number of people wondered whether this was a function of the medications Trump has been taking to treat his coronavirus infection. He’s on a corticosteroid called dexamethasone, for example, the side effects of which include manic episodes. Was Trump’s seeming hyperactivity on Twitter a function of the medications coursing through his veins?
Maybe. But it was probably just Trump.
Trump has long been a fairly energetic tweeter. Of the more than 54,000 tweets he’s written or retweeted since May 2009, only 13,000 were the only tweets sent within a 60-minute period, according to data provided to The Washington Post by Factba.se. On average, a Trump tweet or retweet is one of 5.4 that he offers in the same 60-minute period. On Tuesday, he hit a peak of 30 tweets in a 60-minute period, which is a lot — but it’s also something that can be said of nearly 100 other tweets.
(We included a logarithmic scale on that graph so you could see other bursts of activity.)
Nearly 1,000 tweets were part of Twitter bursts that included more than 30 tweets in a 60-minute period. The tweet that represents the high-water mark of Trump’s Twitter activity is actually this retweet, from June:
It was part of a veritable blizzard of retweets of Republican lawmakers for no obvious reason, one of 122 in a 60-minute period that morning. Sometimes Trump just starts retweeting people a lot, dexamethasone or not.
Over the course of his presidency, Trump’s Twitter behavior has changed in a way that might lead one to expect a late-evening tweetstorm. It used to be that most of his tweets since announcing his candidacy came in the morning, accompanying his regular viewership of “Fox & Friends” — his “executive time,” as it was called. Over the past year, though, that pattern has waned, and Trump’s tweets in a given month are more evenly distributed over the course of a day. (He doesn’t usually tweet in the middle of the night, though in October 2016 he tweeted 43 times in one 60-minute period after midnight following the third presidential debate.)
That Trump’s tweets included a lot of all-caps commentary was also something that’s become more common in recent months. More than 7 percent of his tweets this month have been at least 75 percent capital letters, but that’s in part because of a flurry of all-caps tweets encouraging people to vote for various reasons.
In 2015 and 2016, Trump tweeted a mostly capped tweet on 19 occasions. This year, he’s done it nearly 100 times.
In other words, a caps-heavy, late-evening burst of tweets or retweets is not anything particularly unusual for Trump. Which isn’t to say that nothing about the moment is influencing what he’s up to; limited in his ability to move around and with the added energy his medications might provide, it certainly seems reasonable to assume that we might see some added vigor in his social media presence.
Given what we know about Trump, though, this is hardly something that stands out as particularly unusual.