It is curious that a fair number of Americans claim to detest Donald Trump like plague, and yet they are at the forefront of promoting him and his agenda due to their obsession with his social media activities. By now everyone on the planet knows Trump is an incompetent fool and a mentally unstable narcissist, so it is mind boggling that so many allegedly “smart” people hang on his every social media action and then share his message with the world. It is something he depends and thrives on and uses to his advantage.
Early on in Trump’s tenure a few pundits and some relatively intelligent people said it would be helpful if Americans would just ignore Trump’s Twitter tirades and not give the petulant little child the attention he craves. Finally, one of those “smart guys” made an easy to understand graphic titled “A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets” explaining how Trump uses Twitter to his advantage and how the media is complicit in giving Trump the messaging advantage.
The “smart guy” is a real academic who has spent years explaining exactly how a tyrannical maniac like Trump could easily garner support in America among a certain group of people. They are the kind of people who need a strong daddy figure to tell them how, what, and when to think, and who to turn to for the solution to all their perceived ills.
George Lakoff was describing a “Trump-like” personage ages ago and he has once again taken the time to inform Americans, especially those in mainstream media and active on social media, how they are complicit in helping Trump’s strategy by repeating his messages.
Mr. Lakoff knows of what he speaks as an acclaimed Professor of cognitive science and linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He recently put his expertise to work outlining the “four ways that
the president Trump uses his tweets to control the news cycle.” Lakoff took to Trump’s favorite media outlet, Twitter, to inform journalists and social media devotees how “Trump uses social media as a weapon to control the news cycle. It works like a charm. His tweets are tactical rather than substantive. They mostly fall into one of four categories.”
The categories begin with “preemptive framing;” such as promoting the idea that the “hacking of the DNC” was the DNC’s fault and that Hillary Clinton “lost by a wide margin.” Both claims are false, but with valuable assistance from the media and Democrats “retweeting” Trump’s lies, he was wildly successful “framing and promoting an idea” with no basis in fact. Both of those ideas still resonate with his base of support because “real media” types kept his false assertions in the news for months.
Trump has survived thus far using another strategy, “diversion,” to shift attention away from his corruption and incompetence as well as his Russia problems. It is a tactic he was busy using throughout the 2016 campaign continuing to the present. Mr. Lakoff referred to Trump attacking a Hollywood icon, Meryl Streep, in a tweet two weeks prior to his poorly attended inauguration to enrage Americans and shift their attention away from the reporting on his personal conflicts of interest and his administration’s Russia-collusion problems.
A related scheme, “deflection” has been a mainstay of Trump’s Twitter strategy and an integral part of his administration’s messaging, especially when dealing with any unflattering or factual media reporting. A perfect example is what Lakoff noted was “attacking the messenger” to reframe a story to benefit Trump. By attacking the media as “fake news” Trump not only “erodes public trust,” he “establishes Trump as the only source of truth and facts.” Trump began calling any media outlet that reported truthfully “fake news” early in his campaign and it was so successful he has had no reason to stop now.
The last category is what Mr. Lakoff calls the “trial balloon” to test the media and public’s reaction to an idea; such as his public flirtation with starting a new nuclear arms race or an actual American nuclear first strike. In fact, Mr. Lakoff noted that Trump’s “big nuclear” button tweet was another “trial balloon which Trump deployed spectacularly.”
Professors Lakoff explained on Twitter that:
“Each tweet gets his message retweeted so he dominates social media. Reporters, social media influencers, and many others fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Every time…They may think they’re negating or undermining him, but that’s not how human brains work. As a cognitive scientist, I can tell you: Repeating his messages only helps him.”
Lakoff explained that repeating his tweets are helping “embed Trump’s message into the brains of millions of people, increase his credibility with his base,” and focus all attention on Trump as if “he is the most important thing in the world.”
As this author has preached since last November, Trump’s Twitter activity needs to be completely ignored. Or at least as Professor Lakoff suggested; “take a different approach to Trump’s social media antics” and “put them in a quiet corner of the newspaper like a throwaway item at the end of the newscast.”
Professor Lakoff said one thing that cannot be overstated. Instead of being captivated by Trump’s social media activity, Americans should be “keeping a steely focus on what actually matters.”
Honest to dog, it is a travesty that many Americans are still unaware that their government is being dismantled, Republicans are transferring the Treasury and wealth of the nation to the richest one-percent, and religious Republicans are in the midst of a monumental assault on women and gays. It is not that these stories are being neglected; it is that too many Americans are focused on the latest tweet from what Lakoff said is “this disgraceful man” who dominates the media.
At this point, no media outlet or journalist has to use Trump’s “Twitter” outrages to portray him as “childish or deranged,” and the same is true of social media devotees. Of course Trump is a screaming lunatic, but spreading his insanity across social media is not “negating or undermining him.” It just emboldens him and makes him appear to be the most important thing on Earth. It also feeds his narcissistic need to dominate social media and the current news cycle; it is why he never fails to unleash something bizarre at the beginning of every weekend to keep his name in the news.
Mr. Lakoff makes many good points, but none better than “we must stop letting Trump control the media — and Americans’ minds.” While Trump dominates every stinking new cycle because the media is laser focused on his twitter activity, Republicans are raping and pillaging the nation and the government with little to no public outrage or media coverage. What is particularly appalling is that while Americans, and the media, are enthralled with Trump’s latest Twitter activity, Republicans are viciously attacking women’s rights for the evangelical fanatics in league with the Vatican.
It has now been nearly two years since Trump became “a thing” of interest for the media and they have made him the most important story on Earth based on “tweets.” It is damned high time for journalists, the media at large, and “social media influencers” to grow up, focus on how Republicans and religion are destroying America and for dog’s sake stop helping Trump win the media war.