It’s happened once again… too regularly are social media users finding themselves with their heads in their hands after reading US president Donald Trump’s twitter page.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted a grand total of sixteen times, many more than his average of seven. (which is still a significant amount). His tirade included support for Iran’s protestors, wading again into the Israel and Palestine conflicts, and praising the media that have praised him.
Addressing North Korea’s Supreme Leader, who he refers to as ‘Rocket Man’, Trump made a statement expressing how his nuclear button was bigger than that of Kim Jong Un.
This post was met with controversy and uproar on twitter, which Trump would’ve known before posting. This led many to ask, does he do this on purpose?
Professor George Lakoff from UC Berkeley said “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 these four categories.”
Pre-emptive Framing – Being the first to frame an idea. This is an attempt to control the discourse of a certain subject. He did this when talking about ‘huge’ Democratic losses when in fact they were incredibly marginal.
Diversion – taking attention away from real issues. Instead of addressing the important issues such as Russian hacking, Trump chose to tweet about Meryl Streep at the Golden Globes.
Deflection – this is something Trump uses almost every day and has trained those close to him to utilise this too. By attacking the media and labelling them ‘fake’ he turns his supporters against reputable news organisations that don’t happen to support him.
And lastly, Trial Balloon – Testing public reaction. Specifically in this case to Nuclear Arms escalation.
Lakoff also lists some tips for journalists on how to deal with Trump’s techniques, however they are not limited to simply journalists, if members of the public took these into consideration also, getting the correct and most accurate message will ensure the US president is held to account in a responsible and effective way.
Lakoff’s rules include:
1. Talk about the truth – Frame the real issue, for example, Russia, Foreign Policy & Business Connections
2. Note the attempt to divert attention – Say that he is diverting attention. When claims are false, say why.
3. Go back to the real issues – don’t spend too much time on diversions. Get back to the issue at hand.
It’s clear that Trump’s tweets are sent to ignite reaction, they stack up thousands of interactions within minutes of being sent. His responses are not just from members of the public but also from other leaders – Kim Jong Un himself hit back at Trump a few weeks ago, calling him a dotard… Dotard vs Rocket man … worst boxing match ever.