Donald Trump Blocked Me on Twitter for Telling Him He's Not as Cool as Witches

Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 9. The writer is not allowed to see Trump's tweets anymore. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

I reply to President Donald Trump's tweets sometimes.

I'm not proud of it. It's a compulsion, like biting fingernails or eating all the Doritos in the bag at once. When I wake up and see a blustery new message from our tweeter-in-chief, what am I supposed to do? Walk away? Perform yoga stretches? No. I carve out a snarky retort. If I'm fast enough, I watch the likes and retweets roll in at lightning speed. (This is the 2017 equivalent of commenting "FIRST!" on an explosive message board thread.)

Sometimes, I try to debunk the misinformation Trump shares—the false claims about an apology letter from The New York Times, for instance, or the lies about his approval ratings. Other times, I just tweet Borat jokes.

Again: Not proud. The sight of some verified nobody pumping out a tweetstorm in Trump's mentions has become such a cliché that there are now numerous profiles of the people who do this every day. The genre is very ripe for parody:

Tbh the best thing about Trump's witch hunt tweet is the first response.

— Lily Herman (@lkherman) June 15, 2017

I won't pretend this is some noble act of resistance (or, as they say, #resistance). It's just a quick shot of dopamine when my tweet blows up. Plus, it's momentarily satisfying to be able to talk back to Trump on the public medium he can't stay away from. There is no historical precedent for Trump's Twitter. The president of the United States communicates directly with us in unfiltered outbursts when he's at his angriest, and we get to respond. It's weird. Sometimes he even sees the responses. And then he gets madder.

On Thursday, Trump, or somebody with access to his account, must have seen my response to one of his tweets. I know this, because he blocked me.

The block came shortly after Trump tweeted about being caught in "the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history." (Presumably, he is referring to the Russia investigation.) The president's use of the phrase "witch hunt" is curious but ahistorical. I sent a snarky reply telling Trump to stop comparing himself to witches, who've been persecuted far more than he is:

Please stop comparing yourself to a witch. It's an insult to witches

— Zach Schonfeld (@zzzzaaaacccchhh) June 15, 2017

A few minutes later, I checked to see if Trump had done any more tweets. Instead, I found that he had blocked me. (If you're new to Twitter, this means I can't tweet at him or read his tweets anymore.)

The president blocked me on Twitter for saying he's not as cool as witches

— Zach Schonfeld (@zzzzaaaacccchhh) June 15, 2017

Was I blocked due to a pattern of behavior or because that one joke hurt Trump's feelings? No idea. It would be flattering to think that the president has read the articles I've written about him, like the one in which I relayed the stories behind his terrible movie cameos or the one where I profiled his celebrity admirers. But that seems unlikely, since they don't get discussed on Fox & Friends. Plus, Trump doesn't really seem to read, anyway.

Related: The ridiculous stories behind Donald Trump's movie and TV cameos

I'm not the first to be blocked. Trump has been making liberal use of the feature lately. He blocked the writer Bess Kalb, who frequently mocks his tweets. He even blocked Stephen King the other day. Fellow author J.K. Rowling kindly offered to DM Trump's tweets to King:

I still have access. I'll DM them to you.

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 13, 2017

In fact, Ashley Feinberg, over at Wired, has a running list of people Trump has blocked on Twitter. For a certain breed of journalist, being insulted by Trump is a badge of honor. CNN's Chris Cillizza, for instance, has had an unflattering quote from Trump in his Twitter bio for years—proof that even a broken clock is right twice a day:

Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza's Twitter bio.

So I'm not alone. After I revealed I'd been blocked, I got some interesting replies. Random Trump-haters started tweeting at me with a strange mix of congratulations ("Welcome to the #BlockedByTrump club drinks are at 6," tweeted @BrandonTXNeely) and messages of condolence. "Wow, another one down," tweeted @MissNeverTrump, as though I'd been slain on the front lines of some war. One person shared a meme that says, "Live your life in such a way that Donald Trump blocks you on Twitter." (I assume this is an ancient Greek proverb.) Even the actress who voiced Dil Pickles on Rugrats swung by to voice her support.

Meanwhile, I received a new wave of vitriol from Trump supporters. One guy asked me if I support the recent shooting of Republican Representative Steve Scalise. (I don't!) Another Twitter user called me a "dumb ass dork not worth anybody's time." (Tough, but fair.)

The weird thing about being blocked by Trump is that I can no longer look at his tweets, unless I open an incognito browser that was probably intended for porn, not statements from the president. This has worrisome constitutional implications. The Knight First Amendment Institute has argued that Trump is violating people's right to free speech when he blocks them on Twitter. The Institute has threatened to file a lawsuit. "If there's any kind of forum the government is operating for expression, it may not discriminate on the basis of viewpoint," a senior fellow at the Institute told Wired.

Meanwhile, I now have no idea whether Trump has tweeted in the last hour. Is this what freedom feels like?

Actually, you know what? J. K. Rowling, if you're reading this, can you DM Trump's tweets to me, too?