Trump’s Twitter Trolling

North Korea is lobbing missiles around again and the hapless Theresa May is shipping billions of pounds over to Europe in the hope they’ll make her life a bit easier next month, but here’s the BBC’s lead story:

It’s reached the stage that I think Trump is simply trolling. The outrage machine is still going full blast more than a year since his election, but there he is, still sitting pretty as president. He knows that by simply clicking a few buttons on his iPhone he can send the world’s media – who hate him anyway – into one meltdown after another, giving them no time to catch their breath in between. Historians are going to look back on this and recognise it as masterful media manipulation; he really is playing with them like a cat does a mouse.

What really gets me is the disparity of effort. Master trolls don’t hang around writing screeds online, their role is to throw petrol on a fire and walk away, leaving everyone else to waste days or weeks fighting each other. In Trump’s case, he can tie up tens of thousands of his enemies’ manhours and get them to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars simply by retweeting a video, an action which takes less than a second. This must be costing the media companies an absolute fortune, and for what? The BBC won’t care because they extort money from the British population, but for the rest who rely on selling copy or getting eyes on screen, Trump’s making them dig their own graves. For all the million articles and interviews decrying Trump, nobody’s much changed their minds about the man: all they’re doing is preaching to the choir. They desperately need to start covering stories professionally and recapturing their lost audiences in order to survive, but instead they’re stuck with this blinding obsession. How none of the shareholders or executives realise this is incredible.

Trump is unlikely to leave office remembered as a great president or even as a good politician, and I suspect his legislative changes won’t even amount to much. But I think there’s no doubt he will be remembered for the manner in which he completely outflanked a hostile media and led them straight over a cliff. For all his other faults, Trump is probably the first major political figure to really understand the power of social media. Twitter should give him a seat on the board when his time in office is up.

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21 thoughts on “Trump’s Twitter Trolling

  1. The cartoonist Scott Adams calls Trump a “master persuader” and has written a great deal about how Trump’s tactics work:
    http://blog.dilbert.com/2016/02/18/the-trump-master-persuader-index-and-reading-list/

    What makes Adams worth listening to on this subject is that he was making these points and predicting a Trump victory very early on, when most conventional pundits thought that Trump was a joke candidate who wouldn’t get past the primaries.

  2. It is less than a year in, so too soon to judge a President, though I admit that if La Clinton had won, we would all have dug our bomb shelters within a month.

    God-Emperor Trump has to get through a lot of preparation including, he hopes, a more sympathetic Republican majority in the Senate after the Mid-terms.

    Meantime, he is rolling back Obama’s executive orders, gearing up the expulsion and exclusion of aliens, preparing for the Wall when the funds are available from a new Congress, nominating Judges, and actually getting a lot done; more, in fact than previous Presidents at this point.

    Call it digging the garden. Planting and sowing come later.

    Of course there are lot of weeds and stones, and I do not envy the man his task. I do wish him well.

  3. Of course, we should also consider the possibility that there was more to it than just trolling. Perhaps he was also trying to trick the media into giving enormous publicity to issues that they would normally prefer to ignore.

  4. Agree with AndrewZ. Trump’s reference to Pocohauntas produced a media meltdown and brought up Warren’s lying in order to get into Harvard. Her chances of being a viable candidate in 2020 are now considerably less.

  5. I think he always his a wider reason for his messaging and in this case he had better be careful if he visits the UK as Amber Rudd could get him locked up for 15 years for viewing on line terrorist material.

    What about his recent two handed drinking of bottled Fiji water twice during a live televised address, pure Mafioso type warnings to the firms owners the Reisnecks or at least their Clinton masters, this is master poker moves being played out live on TV, I like it.

    Plus he has manged to keep his warmongers happy without actually killing people and deserves credit for that. Bombing an empty field when he was having dinner with Xi Jinping in Florida. Hows that for a Mafia Don?

    His speech in Warsaw, this guy is a big time player.

  6. I’d like to see him move on from drying the swamp, well actually more like gently evaporating it, to actually draining it. There are 1000s of counter-productive individuals, groups & mis-advisers who all need to go.
    I wish he could insert some spine into T May, who’s proving inept at Brexit more and more every day.

  7. I can’t imagine he is actually planning this stuff. He’s ‘just’ an idiot savant at trolling.

    God bless and protect him.

  8. “I can’t imagine he is actually planning this stuff”

    He came out of nowhere to beat all the established candidates to become the Republican candidate and then beat Hillary Clinton, all in the face of relentless hostility from the media and relentless mockery from just about everybody in the entertainment industry. Nobody can do that by accident. It could only be done by an immensely shrewd and cunning individual who is absolutely capable of “planning this stuff” on a regular basis.

  9. I’m coming around to the fact that it is all intentional, he seems one tweet ahead of the opposition and leaves them reeling as he moves on, smart guy.

  10. You’re just figuring this out now?

    I suspect his legislative changes won’t even amount to much

    Like far too many people, including the majority of Americans, you’re making the mistake of assuming the Presidency works like your head of state. It doesn’t. The President has no legislative authority and not much influence beyond the veto power. As a Canadian, it’s why I find the global obsession with who occupies the White House to be rather curious; whomever it is can’t actually do very much.

  11. So the POTUS sees trolling the media as an appropriate activity for a sitting POTUS. Maybe even his top priority, by the looks of it. And by reporting on this bizarre state of affairs, the MSM is somehow wasting its time and money, because there’s nothing the viewing public is less interested in seeing than a tawdry spectacle. Or something like that.
    Judging by the humiliating bitch-slapping the WaPo gave to Project Veritas the other day, I’d say the MSM can deal with trolls. Some cliff.

  12. “As a Canadian, it’s why I find the global obsession with who occupies the White House to be rather curious; whomever it is can’t actually do very much.”

    What he can do is nominate people to hold offices of great import with life tenure. If he gets it right, it doesn’t matter who wins legislative races.

    The judiciary is tasked with examining every single legislative effort – federal, state, and local – with an eye to making sure they comport with our Constitution’s requirements. Your view of this depends on whether you believe we must honor what the Constitution says, or what we think it ought to say. Those two approaches summarize the conservative/nonconservative difference in the governing impulse.

    Trump has been doing a very good job of getting Originalists into the judiciary, far beyond the obvious Justice Gorsuch. His influence in this regard already guarantees that his effect on USA life outlasts Obama’s.

    And then there’s the aspect of the figurehead, providing a personalized embodiment of political thought shared by enough people to elect him head of this huge and varied country such that the importance of the President lies not in what he can do, but in what his election says of the mood of the country.

    So, he’s critically important in both what he does and what he represents.

    It’s merely a bonus that he provides such fun.

  13. The cartoonist Scott Adams calls Trump a “master persuader” and has written a great deal about how Trump’s tactics work:

    Yes, indeed. I used to follow him on Twitter about a year back.

    What makes Adams worth listening to on this subject is that he was making these points and predicting a Trump victory very early on, when most conventional pundits thought that Trump was a joke candidate who wouldn’t get past the primaries.

    Absolutely. He not only predicted that Trump would win, but also explained how long before the election.

  14. @Polkamatic: “Judging by the humiliating bitch-slapping the WaPo gave to Project Veritas the other day, I’d say the MSM can deal with trolls.”

    That was more of an attempt at saving face and/or damage control, plus free publicity for Veritas. Trolls are un-bitchslappable, generally speaking.

    @bobby b: “Trump has been doing a very good job of getting Originalists into the judiciary, far beyond the obvious Justice Gorsuch.”

    This is what sensible left-wing analysts (the very few extant ones) have feared more than anything else. Trump, they say, is unlikely to achieve much except appointing federal judges. At least as long as the Senate is majority Republican.

  15. I was listening to the painfully PC BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday afternoon.

    They asked for input on whether social media had changed political discourse. Their lead news item was the re-tweeting by Trump.

    At no point did any ‘journalist’ say whether the videos were real (or not).

    If they were not, then they are ‘fake news’, of course. If they were real, actual videos, then they were presumably ‘Real News’ and one could ask why the President needed to retweet them. Why had the BBC not shown them, if they were ‘Real News’? Indeed, why does the BBC apparently think they should be buried, rather than reported?

    The BBC, in other words, was complaining, without irony, that POTUS had reported activities that they (the BBC) should have reported, and chose instead to ignore.

  16. Of course, we should also consider the possibility that there was more to it than just trolling. Perhaps he was also trying to trick the media into giving enormous publicity to issues that they would normally prefer to ignore.

    Indeed. Either by design or by accident, this is what is happening. See my latest post.

  17. Trump has been doing a very good job of getting Originalists into the judiciary, far beyond the obvious Justice Gorsuch. His influence in this regard already guarantees that his effect on USA life outlasts Obama’s.

    While true, it’s also not a “legislative agenda”, which was my point. And merely replacing Scalia isn’t enough to fix the now rife problem with Interpretationalists across the federal judiciary, nor does it guarantee that these judges will continue to rule in an Originalist fashion. See David Souter, for instance.

    What Trump (or any POTUS) could do, but won’t, is use their power of the Executive to simply dismantle every extra-legislative agency, position and program and refuse to sign any legislation or budget that allocates money to anything not explicitly specified in the US Constitution. That would solve the interpretation, problem, but the Free Shit Army is too numerous at this point for that to stand.

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