Twitter is arguably the foremost platform for breaking news and vital real-time information while also being a cesspool of hatred, bile, and (sometimes good) jokes. Normally, that confluence makes for a hellsite. Last night, the hellsite was on steroids—and the people who were still up to see it got the full gamut.
Twitter lit up when news about President Trump’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis broke shortly after 1 a.m. ET. Journalists were reporting the news, trying to dig up as much information as possible from the least transparent White House in history. One Twitter user, Tim Hogan, scooped everyone by paying attention to flight patterns of E-6B Mercury jets—those used to deter foreign adversaries with the threat of nuclear war—which launched off both U.S. coasts just 30 minutes before the president’s tweet confirming his diagnosis. There’s still dispute over whether the missions were pre-planned, which would be a wild coincidence at best.
This is a remarkable way to get a scoop, about a half-hour before the announcement. https://t.co/YKcYSltLVS
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) October 2, 2020
Aside from hard news reporting and speculation, there were plenty of jokes at Trump’s expense too. Most of them noted how Trump’s inaction during the pandemic has led to so much death that he scarcely deserves any sympathy. That might seem harsh, especially to those quick to invoke civility politics and wish Trump and First Lady Melania the best in their recovery. Trump’s spent months calling COVID-19 a hoax, though, and just two days ago mocked former VP Joe Biden at the first presidential debate for constantly wearing masks—things people were quick to point out.
Here's Trump — who just announced he and Melania are under quarantine for possible COVID infection — mocking Joe Biden at Tuesday's debate for wearing a mask pic.twitter.com/Q9cFtqezwc
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) October 2, 2020
"It affects virtually nobody."
– @realDonaldTrump, 10 fucking days ago.
— Connor Ratliff (@connorratliff) October 2, 2020
There were also plenty of conservatives decrying how mean the left was being about Trump’s positive diagnosis. Within minutes of the president’s tweet, Ben Shapiro posted about expecting snarky tweets from Democrats and narcissists. He (nor anybody else, for that matter) failed to account for conservatives dancing on the actual grave of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, announcing within an hour of her death plans to replace her and secure a right wing supermajority on the Supreme Court. Hypocrisy is an empty charge in today’s political climate, but Twitter was more stocked up on it than ever last night.
Honestly looking forward to seeing all your tweets again tomorrow during Fox News montages of how The Left reacted
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) October 2, 2020
Republicans announced they were replacing RBG 1 hour after it was announced she DIED. I wouldn’t worry so much about being “nice.”
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 2, 2020
Of course, when there’s breaking news, there’s conspiracies. People were immediately (and perhaps somewhat rightly) skeptical of Trump’s diagnosis, saying it could be a hoax of his own to beat the virus and call it weak. Others speculated it was Trump’s way of getting out of the remaining presidential debates or to get Biden to stop campaigning (ironic, since Biden is hardly campaigning to begin with). And some even said it was just Trump’s way of distracting from bad news, including a leaked tape of Melania Trump saying she doesn’t care about Christmas decorations or immigrant children in cages at the border.
There’s wanting to get out of a debate and then there’s “I have COVID” wanting to get out of a debate.
— Brett Erlich ?? (@bretterlich) October 2, 2020
About twelve hours later, though, it all looks real. It’s obviously unclear how Trump’s diagnosis will affect the country or the election a month from now, even if it was only a matter of time before the president contracted COVID-19. Whatever happens, though, Twitter will be there to capture it.