"Did you see this text? Why does the president want to know if we're up?"
Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer revealed last week that President-elect Trump fires off his hot takes on Twitter without the knowledge or consultation of advisers. “I do not know, I do not get a memo [about Trump’s tweeting],” said Spicer, the man unlucky enough to have to go in front of reporters to clean up after Trump starting on Jan. 20.
Even Trump’s family and campaign-season advisers understood that an unfiltered Trump is a liability to himself, wrestling then-candidate Trump’s phone away from him during the last week of the campaign. Trump’s Twitter account was made great again after the win, though, and the rash, impulsive outbursts returned.
You knew it was Trump, and not a circumspect staffer, back at the helm because anyone possessing a modicum of caution wouldn’t continue to retweet followers who tended to tweet about Pepe, the cartoon frog that’d become the playful avatar of the racist alt-right. No, Trump was back, doing things like joining in with Putin to call Hillary’s loss “humiliating” and wishing a happy New Year to “my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do.” You WON, fam. Chill.
It was around this time—once it became apparent that Trump’s abject narcissism meant he needed Twitter, that it wasn’t just a campaign-season utility but an emotional necessity—that folks realized that Trump, once president, effectively has the ability to send a mass text to every single phone in the country. The transcendental tweet of all tweets. The God Tweet. And it’s unblockable. This is a real thing.
You know how we get those Amber Alerts? That’s a FEMA thing, what’s called a Wireless Emergency Alert. The FCC defines only three circumstances for these unblockable, 90-character mass texts: Amber Alerts, “imminent threats to safety or life” and “alerts issued by the president.” Amber Alerts override only cell towers where the child has gone missing; a presidential alert would be blasted from every single cell tower in the republic, lighting up every phone and becoming, with America’s almost 350 million cell phones, quite possibly the most powerful act of human speech in the history of the world.
There’s no presidential phone from which to issue these sorts of messages, of course. It’s more difficult than tweeting, at least a little. The text would pass through FEMA, but a compliant FEMA chief (appointed by the president) would be all that’s needed.