• Trump’s Bypasses Media via Twitter — Irrelevant!

    July 13, 2017 // 17 Comments »



    Donald Trump discovered the Holy Grail of media relations: the ability with a 140-character tweet to ignore the Fourth Estate. This is brass-knuckled political power that at a minimum pushes the press another circulation drop closer to irrelevancy.


    Journalists meanwhile mockingly treat Trump’s tweets as examples of his oafishness, just as they did his bombastic stump style.

    More inchoate Trumpsplaining. Sad!

    But as the media missed the populist appeal of Donald Trump right up until election night pushed it into their faces, so are they missing the popular power he is wielding over them via social media. This is no joke, except maybe on the journalists whose credibility is already a laughing matter.

    While Obama claimed the title of first “internet president” by virtue of his online fund-raising, brilliant datamining, and seeding of the 24-hour news cycle, the bulk of his efforts were essentially repurposing technology to do things politicians have always done, albeit faster and better.

    Trump discovered something bigger online: he doesn’t really need much from journalists. Social media for Trump is not simply a display board to pin policy statements on, as others use it. Social media allows Trump to bypass everything and speak to individual citizens, and then force the traditional media to amplify what he says as part of its thirst for “content.” There really isn’t any news anymore when Trump has it on Twitter as his own scoop.

    The media is playing defense!

    And if the media ignores the tweets thinking they can starve the troll? The audience that advertisers depend on can just go read the tweets themselves (Twitter accepts advertising, too.) In a period where the credibility of the press is already in the toilet after many journalists epically failed to accurately and fairly report on the election, many viewers may prefer to go to the source anyway. Exactly how much reach outside its bubble does the media think it really has anymore?

    Oh well, there’s still weather and sports to report.


    Every president who’s left a record expressed some level of disdain for the media of his day. But no president previously could afford to ignore, or truly anger, the press. Influence, of course: presidents would leak juicy stuff to one reporter, cut off another, but at the end of the day the media and the president needed each other to do their respective jobs.

    A president-elect once upon a time would have had to be careful chiding a columnist for the New York Times, for fear of the editorial page. Trump treats reporters with contempt because in his mind, all they really do of value is retweet him.

    Trump has also mastered the dark art of internet logic. His tweets often read like the “Comments” section of some blog. Make a bold, unsupported statement that may or may not be true, then demand challengers provide proof you’re wrong. Dispute sources, not facts – X can’t be true because it was reported by a pro-Democrat outlet. Attack ad hominem. Then stand back and disavow what happens, up to and including death threats. All that bruised ego guardians-of-the-people stuff from the pundits? Label it just another example of media arrogance and elitism.

    The president-elect has also understood the value of moving beyond talking points. Express things in #ShortForm. No policy paper ever went viral.

    Social media Trump-style also offers an unprecedented ability to control the agenda at will, without requiring a sympathetic editor to run a puff piece like in the good old days. Should a troublesome story appear, a handful of bombastic tweets changes the conversation on Trump’s schedule. Trump isn’t communicating, he’s dueling. All in real, real time; Trump is no stranger to sending out 140 characters of white noise at 3 a.m.


    With its reliance on friends, followers, and sharing, social media also creates a personal bond among Trump and individual Americans, something not really experienced since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Depression-era fireside chats. As those radio broadcasts brought Roosevelt into the living room, Trump’s tweets put his policies, opinions, and rants into the same feed as Aunt Sally. That creates intimacy, and by association (who doesn’t like Aunt Sally?), may increase trust.

    And make no mistake about it; unlike most politicians’ robo-social media, Trump’s tweets come from Trump. It’s him talking to you. People write back in the first person, using the informal language of the web, and Trump retweets messages (and famously, videos) from his followers. The medium is the message and both are Trump. No other politician today can pull this off; it has to be real, organic, to work.

    This is a powerful tool. It played a significant role in the election. It allows Trump to choose how, when, or if, he wants to engage with the traditional media. Who can make the argument (perhaps in 140 characters) that pulling back is in his interest?

       

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    Posted in Democracy, Trump

    Weird Moments in Public Diplomacy, No. 54

    July 2, 2012 // 8 Comments »

    Are the public diplomacists at the State Department getting cranky? This blog has raised questions in the past about gauging the impact of State’s Public Diplomacy and social media efforts.

    The old saying, any road will get you there if you don’t know where you’re going, applies here. If I was allowed back into the building and to ask a question of someone important in Public Affairs, I’d ask this: why isn’t your whole “PD” strategy built around sending out messages in bottles dropped into the ocean? Now of course the analogy only goes so far, but just as the message in the bottle strategy can be dismissed with a quick thought experiment (who knows who reads what, and what they do after the read it), can anyone really make a different claim for the State Department’s current efforts?

    One of the core problems with the State Department, and the one that most significantly contributes to the Department’s increasing irrelevance in foreign policy, is that State seems just content to “be,” to create conditions of its own continued existence. So, if social media is a new cool thing, and Congress will pay for it, then social media it is. What if instead the organization had more concrete goals? Then we could measure back from them. I’ll not trouble readers with my own list of foreign policy goals, but if the best you can come up with is something so broad as “engage the public” then you are pretty close to having no real goal at all. Best to throw notes into the ocean and hope for the best.

    The good news is that apparently State is now ready to answer these questions, by the Twitter. Here goes:




    Um, OK. Any links to go with those? Proof? Statistics? Anything? Bueller? Need some help understanding the difference between an “assertion” and creating an “argument”?

    Credibility means more than just saying something in a loud voice over and over. God help us all, these are the same people we pay money to to carry America’s message abroad.



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    Posted in Democracy, Trump

    Great Moments in Public Diplomacy, Episode 174: Gagging in Sweden

    June 4, 2012 // 4 Comments »

    Sweden is now a year+ into trying to extradite Wikileaks guy Julian Assange from the UK. Sweden claims that the lengthy, complex and very expensive international legal process is necessary so it can question Assange (no charges have been filed) regarding what constitutes rape in Sweden, consensual sex without a condom.

    Of course no one who doesn’t sleep in a cardboard box under an overpass believes that is what Sweden really wants with Assange. Most sentient beings are certain that Sweden seeks Assange for “questioning” only as a pretext to turning him over to US authorities. The UK, where Assange has been under house arrest for over a year, won’t flip him to the US. Sweden will.

    So, in an effort to promote general worldwide hilarity, here’s a Tweet today from the US Embassy in Sweden, celebrating the coincidental first SecState visit to that nation in 36 years:



    Hillary-ious!

    Seriously, where do they find such public diplomacists, men and women totally lacking lacking in either a) intellect, b) morals or c) all of the above, who are so committed to sucking up that they can publicaly churn out crap like that Tweet? Really, you kiss your mother with that mouth? Talk about needing a condom for protection from something gross. Eeeeew.



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    Posted in Democracy, Trump

    WaPo: ACLU throws support behind State Department whistleblower

    May 24, 2012 // 3 Comments »




    Today’s Washington Post featured a story on how the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has continued to support my case that the Department of State has continued to violate my First Amendment rights by moving to fire me because of this blog. You can read the entire story here.

    The State Department puts together an overnight, internal-use only media summary for busy diplomats to read first thing in the morning as a way of quickly knowing what happened whilst they acquired their beauty sleep. Though the summary features most every story about the Department from the Washington Post, inexplicably today’s WaPo piece about the ACLU was omitted. One day the State Department will realize that its lame efforts to control every message only end up making them look dumber and dumber all the time. That day is, however, not today.

    I was very gratified to see that the nation’s premier authority on free speech, the ACLU, studied the State Department’s actions and, in five pages of legal analysis, concluded unambiguously that the Department of State acted unconstitutionally and violated my First Amendment rights.

    The ACLU didn’t just say that government employees retain their free speech rights, it laid out the legal doctrine behind that statement in great detail. This helps not only me, but also every other US government employee out there who still believes his/her oath is to the Constitution, and is not some silly loyalty pledge designed to hide their agency’s dirty laundry.

    The State Department may still fire me, but they now are on notice that the issues they will fire me for will not go away. Ultimately, State’s actions against the Constitution will need to be judged not by their own misguided ideas but by a court.

    It is also a shame that the State Department, the part of the US government directly charged with speaking abroad about America’s democracy and freedoms, feels it necessary to deny its own employees those same freedoms. It weakens the institution, and it weakens the State Department’s own credibility overseas.

    Who knows, maybe the Chinese government will step in and demand the US recognize my rights as a citizen?



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    Posted in Democracy, Trump

    State Department to Create Jobs for Women (Not in America Dumbass)

    May 23, 2012 // 1 Comment »

    Attention unemployed American masses! Good news to announce!

    Your Department of State is spending some of your last tax dollars on creating jobs for women– in Afghanistan. Those of you who can’t find work are encouraged to pack up and move to Afghanistan, where apparently the US government is interested in helping you find employment.





    All about the priorities baby.



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    Posted in Democracy, Trump

    21st Century Bypasses Embassy Baghdad

    January 13, 2012 // 2 Comments »

    Crowing about how State is now the cool kids to eat lunch with, spokescoolperson Victoria Nuland held the first Twitter briefing of 2012 as part of “January is 21st Century Statecraft Month” (February will be “IBM Selectric Month.”) Ms. Nuland noted that “more than 100 of our embassies have Facebook or Twitter accounts, or sometimes both,” meaning there are still more accounts in my daughter’s high school lunch room than at State worldwide. Since the tech has been around for a century, maybe the rest of the posts can sign up soon– it’s free to join LOL 🙂 LMAO!

    One mission that just can’t seem to get Tweeting is the World’s Largest Embassy (c), Baghdad, still without a first Tweet. Or maybe that’s a fake account, like all those “Ashton Kutcher” Twitter feeds that just want to sell you Uggs or something, or maybe they have prioritized for a robust MySpace. The Embassy has a nice Facebook page for study in the US (a lot of Iraqis would like to get on that train; almost all of the postings are asking for visas, scholarships or for someone to answer their emailed requests for visas and scholarships) and a YouTube channel, though the latter may run afoul of State’s own master of social media Alec Ross, who said recently “I just don’t think propaganda works on social media, at all.” lulz 😉 #SMH

    Anyway, I think we can help the World’s Largest Embassy (c) get started on Twitter. Here are a few Tweets they could send out to the Iraqis to get things going:

    Anyone out there can help us w/ the Twitter? Ours stops after 140 characte

    @IraqiPeeps Pls stop killing each other. #OurInvestment

    @IraqiPeeps Really, stop it.

    @Basra Can we haz the oil now pls? #OurInvestment

    @Blackwater Can you return Amb limo? Also last time trunk had empty beer bottles, so pls clean, thx.

    How many Iraqis to screw in lightbulb? Zero. No power. #PRT #Reconstruction

    @TheRealSeanPenn Rethought it, maybe you can help. #Reconstruction

    @Hashemi Sorry, apts here all full, try Erbil #Sunni #Kurd #Shia

    @USEmbassyBaghdad RT Send lawyers, guns and money #Hashemi

    All yer bases belong to us. Oh, wait, not any more. #SOFA

    @JulianAssange Can’t find Amb memo re: Mosul dated 04/01/2010 anywhere– do u have a copy? #Wikileaks

    @Sadr Bday party at Baghdaddy’s Fri, no rockets after 9pm pls, ‘k? #Democracy

    Travel Warning: Instant cappuccino maker at Sully still broken. #15% #25% #35%

    @Qods It’s not terrorism when we do it, only when you do it #Carbombsunderscientists

    @Malaki Really really apologize for last night. Meant Iran, not Iraq. #Toomuchtodrink #Girlfriendz

    Q: Five-day forecast for Baghdad? A: Two days. #Sunni

    Sorry to all for trouble, Emb cafeteria menu site now no longer auto-redirects to wemeantwell.com




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