Mr. Trump became a celebrity through television, but Twitter had given him a singular outlet for expressing himself as he is, unfiltered by the norms of the presidency.
.. Over the years of his presidency, as controversies and investigations of his conduct began to grow, television became a less reliable safe space. Broadcast networks, pressured to be more aggressive in their approach to him and his aides, asked tougher questions. With the exception of Fox News, cable networks that had rushed to put him on air throughout 2016 and the early stages of his presidency clamped down, cutting back on broadcasting his live appearances in particular.
And his adventures in the White House briefing room generally did not go well and revealed the limits of his grasp of policy or current events. One Trump adviser was blunt, saying that the president did not like most aspects of his job, and that included being asked questions for which he did not know the answers.
So when Mr. Trump went to the briefing room for weeks in the spring to discuss the coronavirus, advisers said, he liked the visual aspects of his performance but not the reality of having a back and forth that led to him being condemned and ridiculed for his dangerous statements about fighting the virus with bleach and light and his fact-free assertions about everything getting better.
Twitter became a stage he could manage more tightly.
It was telling that throughout his time in office, Mr. Trump chose as his primary Twitter channel his @realdonaldtrump account and not his official @Potus account. He understood the power of building his personal brand and keeping it separate from his official duties as president. Twitter gave him a singular outlet for expressing himself as he is, unfiltered by the norms of the presidency.
He would scroll his own Twitter feed, looking at the replies for new topics to throw out. He studied the Twitter trending lists as signals of where the discourse was headed.
In some way, television became the medium through which he could watch the effects of his tweets.
The television in his alcove dining room off the Oval Office was usually on in the background, catnip for his short attention span. He consumed much of his information through it and watched the coverage of his tweets.
Mr. Trump’s White House aides said he loved tweeting and then watching the chyrons on cable news channels quickly change in response. For a septuagenarian whose closest allies and aides say often exhibits the emotional development of a preteen, and for whom attention has been a narcotic, the instant gratification of his tweets was hard to match.
Advisers insisted that they were still exploring the possibility of another platform where the president could speak his mind without filter.
But for now, Mr. Trump has been forced into a more traditional presidential communications posture, reliant on having to stage events with visual allure in the hopes of attracting television coverage. That is what he intends to do on Tuesday with a trip to the southwestern border to promote what he says is progress in meeting his promise to build a wall there.
And with all the outrage and drama that he has stirred in the closing chapter of his presidency, Mr. Trump may yet take advantage of an opportunity to schedule one last major appearance before leaving office.
Jason Miller, a Trump senior adviser, said that if Mr. Trump did give such an address, it would force television networks to make a difficult choice: whether to follow Twitter in silencing the president or allowing him to speak to the American people.
“I would say to many members of the media: Be careful what you wish for,” Mr. Miller said.