Between 10 and 11 October 2018, the Dow Jones Industrial Index dropped 1,378 points in value. Along with significant losses in other market indices (such as the S&P 500), this decline prompted sober and informed analysis, but also partisan criticism of President Donald Trump, who has set a precedent of claiming credit for positive stock market trends.
Against that background, critics of the president shared what appeared to be a screenshot of a tweet from 2012 in which Trump supposedly proclaimed, “If the Dow drops 1,000 points in two days the President should be impeached immediately!”
RETWEET AND LIKE TO SPREAD THIS OLD TRUMP TWEET! pic.twitter.com/GwsJl189pn
— Travis Allen 🌊 (@TravisAllen02) October 11, 2018
Since the Dow Jones had indeed dropped by more than 1,000 points in two days (the argument went), President Trump, in accordance with his own pronouncement, ought to be removed from office, or even resign. This was advocated with great gusto on Twitter in the aftermath of the October 2018 loss:
The Dow has dropped 1,377 points in the last two days.
— Stephen Schwartz (@AtomicAnalyst) October 12, 2018
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) October 12, 2018
— alex taye (@ChakluTaye) October 12, 2018
But there is no record of Trump having posted such a tweet on 6 November 2012, or on any other date. Since it’s conceivable that he published it then deleted it, we can’t reach a definitive conclusion as to whether or not it is genuine. However, there are good reasons to doubt its authenticity.
Firstly, it is strikingly similar to another tweet which was revealed to have been a hoax in February 2018, after another massive loss for the Dow Jones. On that occasion, Shaun Usher — who runs the popular “Letters of Note” blog — admitted to having fabricated an “old Trump tweet” from 2015, in which the presidential candidate was supposed to have proclaimed:
If the Dow Joans [sic] ever falls more than 1000 “points” in a Single Day the sitting president should be “loaded” into a very big cannon and Shot into the sun at TREMENDOUS SPEED! No excuses!
Secondly, there is no record of the 2012 tweet existing before 11 October 2018. The earliest instance we could find was the purported screenshot posted on that date by Twitter user Travis Allen. Despite searching Twitter and online news archives from 2012 onward, we did not find a single reference to Trump advocating the impeachment of the U.S. president in the event of a significant stock market drop.
Nobody made reference to such a tweet despite almost six years passing — not even when the Dow Jones dropped 1,175 points on 5 February 2018.
Also, we could find no variances in screenshots of the purported tweet. Every instance shows the same number of retweets and likes, and the same set of thumbnail avatars. Additional screenshots displaying variations in the number of retweets and likes, and/or different avatars, would at least suggest that someone besides Travis Allen had taken note of the tweet and kept a record of it (although that, in itself, would not amount to definitive corroboration).
As it stands, the case for the tweet’s authenticity rests entirely on a sole Twitter user (out of hundreds of millions) having taken a screenshot of it between 6 November 2012 and 11 October 2018, before it could have been deleted.
Finally, the person who posted the earliest known instance of the tweet has a history of posting anti-Trump “sharebait,” a fact that casts even more reasonable doubt on its authenticity.
Allen’s own 11 October tweet implores readers to “retweet and like to spread this old Trump tweet.” This effort to garner shares and engagement is a common feature of his Twitter account. In the week leading up to the “Dow Jones” screenshot, Allen published nine tweets that included requests that readers share and like his content. For example:
Remember when Trump said he was going to build the Wall and make Mexico pay for it? 😂😂😂
RT and like if you remember!
— Travis Allen 🌊 (@TravisAllen02) October 9, 2018
Many many people are saying that Brett Kavanaugh is the WORST SUPREME COURT NOMINEE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE!
Retweet and like if you agree!
— Travis Allen 🌊 (@TravisAllen02) October 4, 2018
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two leading figures in the movement to end sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Remember when #MAGA thought Trump was going to get the Nobel Peace Prize for getting a picture with Kim Jong Un? 😂😂😂
RT if you remember! pic.twitter.com/lChHDFAwMj
— Travis Allen 🌊 (@TravisAllen02) October 5, 2018
A pattern of posting partisan sharebait does not prove that Allen’s “Dow Jones” tweet was fake, but it justifies further skepticism about its authenticity.
We sent Allen a message asking him whether he fabricated the tweet, and, if not, whether he could provide the date on which he captured a screenshot of it, its URL, or an archive link to it. We did not receive a response.
Chang, Sue; Vlastelica, Ryan. “U.S. Stocks Close Lower as Dow Drops Nearly 1,400 Points in 2 Days.”
Marketwatch. 11 October 2018.
Rampell, Catherine. “The Stock Market Under Trump vs. Obama.”
The Washington Post. 1 May 2018.
Palma, Bethania. “Did Trump Tweet That the President Should Be Shot Out of a Cannon If the Stock Market Tanked?”
stangertoyota.com. 5 February 2018.
Phipps, Claire; Wearden, Graeme; Fletcher, Nick. “Australian and Asian Stock Markets Slide After Dow Suffers Biggest One-Day Points Fall — As It Happened.”
The Guardian. 6 February 2018.