Communication in the Age of Trump

by Arthur S. Hayes (Volume editor)
©2018 Textbook X, 354 Pages


Franklin Delano Roosevelt used radio fireside chats to connect with millions of ordinary Americans. The highly articulate and telegenic John F. Kennedy was dubbed the first TV president. Ronald Reagan, the so-called Great Communicator, had a conversational way of speaking to the common man. Bill Clinton left his mark on media industries by championing and signing the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996 into law. Barack Obama was the first social media presidential campaigner and president. And now there is President Donald J. Trump.
Because so much of what has made Donald Trump’s candidacy and presidency unconventional has been about communication—how he has used Twitter to convey his political messages and how the news media and voters have interpreted and responded to his public words and persona—21 communication and media scholars examine the Trump phenomenon in Communication in the Age of Trump. This collection of essays and studies, suitable for communication and political science students and scholars, covers the 2016 presidential campaign and the first year of the Trump presidency.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Introduction (Arthur S. Hayes)
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Part I: Blurred Lines: When Reality TV Becomes Political Reality
  • 1. American Idol: Trump’s Administration and Reality TV (June Deery)
  • Mediating Politics and the Participant-Viewer
  • Trump as Former Reality TV Star
  • Reality, the TV Show
  • Staged Actuality
  • Fact and Fake
  • Selling Reality
  • Self-Branding
  • Trump: The Game
  • The Amateur and the Extra-ordinary
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 2. Young Viewers Turned Voters—How “Wishing to Be Trump” and Other Parasocial Effects From Watching The Apprentice Predict Likeability, Trust, and Support for a Celebrity President (Sara S. Hansen / Shu-Yueh Lee)
  • Literature Review
  • Media Visibility and Celebrity Politics
  • Parasocial Interaction and Relationships
  • Identification and Reality TV
  • Wishful Identification
  • Method
  • Demographic and Independent Variables
  • Dependent Measures
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Parasocial Relationships & Populist Support
  • “Wishing to be Trump” Supports Attitudes and Behaviors
  • Limitations and Future Study
  • References
  • Part II: Campaign and Presidential Rhetoric
  • 3. Donald Trump “Tells You What He Thinks” (Mira Sotirovic / Christopher Benson)
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 4. “Enemies of the people”: Elites, Attacks, and News Trust in the Era of Trump (Jason Turcotte)
  • Elite Attacks
  • Hostile Media Effects
  • News Trust
  • Method
  • Sample
  • Measures
  • Findings
  • News Trust
  • Hostile Media Effects
  • Discussion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Appendix
  • Part III: Assessing News Media Performance
  • 5. American Media and the Rise of Trump (Victor Pickard)
  • The Historical Roots of American Media Exceptionalism
  • The New Deal’s Last Gasp
  • The Postwar Settlement for American News Media
  • The Rise of a Profit-Obsessed Media System
  • Is There an Alternative?
  • Note
  • References
  • 6. From Fox News to Fake News: An Anatomy of the Top 20 Fake News Stories on Facebook Before the 2016 Election (Mitchell T. Bard)
  • Fake News
  • Fake News or Something Else?
  • The Themes of the Fake News Articles
  • Fox News and the Fake News Themes
  • Fake News, Fox News, and the 2016 Election
  • Note
  • References
  • 7. We’ve Got Mail (But Probably Shouldn’t): The Press, WikiLeaks, and Democratic Disclosures in the 2016 Election (Laurel Leff)
  • Notes
  • References
  • 8. The Media Was the Message: Gendered Coverage of Hillary Clinton’s Historic 2016 Campaign for U.S. President (Dianne Bystrom / Kimberly Nelson)
  • Media Coverage of Women Political Candidates
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References
  • 9. Goodbye Neighbor: Mexican News Coverage of the Trump Wall and U.S. Immigration Proposals (Melissa A. Johnson / Héctor Rendón)
  • Agenda Setting Theory and Research
  • Intermedia Agenda Setting and Niche Agenda Setting
  • First-Level and Second-Level Agenda Setting
  • Agenda Setting Research in Latin America
  • Immigration Research
  • Mexican Media System
  • Mexican Media Consumers
  • First-Level Agenda Setting and Intermedia Agenda Setting
  • Second-Level Agenda Setting and Niche Agenda Setting
  • Methodology
  • Sampling Design
  • Measures—First-Level Agenda Setting and Thematic Analysis (Hand-Coding)
  • Measures—Second-Level Agenda Setting, and Computer-Assisted Coding
  • Border, Wall, and Immigration Dictionaries
  • Results
  • First-Level Agenda Setting
  • Agenda Setting Topics and Subtopics
  • Intermedia Agenda Setting
  • Second-Level Agenda Setting
  • Effects of Media Agenda on Public Opinion
  • Discussion
  • References
  • 10. A “Political Novice” vs. the “Queen of War”: How State-Sponsored Media Framed the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign (Nataliya Roman / John H. Parmelee)
  • Framing Coverage of Candidates
  • Media Coverage of Elections
  • International Broadcasters and Public Diplomacy
  • Method
  • Content Analysis
  • Sampling
  • Coding Procedures
  • Frame Analysis
  • Results
  • Content Analysis
  • Frame Analysis
  • Sputnik’s Coverage: The “Populist” vs. the “Queen of War”
  • VOA’s Coverage: A “Political Novice” vs. “Strong, Steady, and Tested”
  • Discussion
  • Limitations and Future Research
  • Notes
  • References
  • 11. “Judicious Skepticism”: Fact-Checking Trump (Beth Knobel)
  • Pre-Digital Fact-Checking
  • Digital Fact-Checkers
  • Extending the “Trump Bump”
  • Legacy Media Leans Digital
  • Added Accountability?
  • References
  • 12. Trump, the Press Critic: Unethical and Ineffective (Arthur S. Hayes)
  • Trump’s Campaign Against the News Media: Nixonian and Machiavellian
  • Theories of Press Criticism
  • The First Amendment Concept of Democratic Discourse Press Criticism Theory
  • Trump’s Coercive Speech
  • How an Effective Press Critic Operates
  • Trump’s Ineptitude
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Part IV: Why Twitter and Facebook May Never Be The Same
  • 13. Tweeting the Election: Comparative Uses of Twitter by Trump and Clinton in the 2016 Election (Flora Khoo / William Brown)
  • Literature Review
  • Gender and Race in Election Campaigns
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Research Questions
  • Methodology
  • Population and Sampling
  • Unit of Analysis
  • Measurement of Tweet Frames
  • Patriotism Frame
  • Criticism Frame
  • Endorsement Frame
  • Voting Frame
  • Policy Frame
  • FBI & Security Frame
  • Social Compassion Issues Frame
  • Others
  • Inter-Coder Reliability
  • Results
  • Endorsement and Voting Frames
  • Discussion
  • Implications for Theory and Research
  • Limitations and Conclusion
  • References
  • 14. The Commander in Tweets: President Trump’s Use of Twitter to Defend (Jeffrey Delbert)
  • Rhetorical Defense and Political Media
  • Method
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 15. Are Algorithms Media Ethics Watchdogs? An Examination of Social Media Data for News (Tao Fu / William A. Babcock)
  • Big Data, Algorithms, and Social Media
  • Conceptual Foundation
  • Prima Facie Duties
  • Gatekeeping Theory
  • Fake News, Biased News, and Social Media’s Duties
  • Post-Truth, Fake News, and Non-Maleficence
  • News Trending, Biased News, and Beneficence
  • Facebook Users as Gatekeeper and Self-Improvement
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 16. Emerging Free Speech and Social Media Law and Policy in the Age of Trump (Arthur S. Hayes)
  • @RealDonaldTrump: Is There State Action?
  • Blocked Tweets: Legal Precedents
  • State Action or Under Color of Law
  • Determine Whether the Defendant Opened a Forum for Speech on a Social Media Site
  • Applying Davison to Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University v. Trump
  • Presidential Records Act
  • Honest Ads Act
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


Figure 3.1: Transcripts of Documents Comprising the Analytical Corpus.

Figure 3.2: Frequencies or Racial Words in Presidential Debates 2008–2016.

Figure 3.3: Differences in Psychological Processes Between Race and Whole Corpus (Negative Differences Indicate Smaller Values in Race Corpus).

Figure 3.4: Psychological Processes Across Platform.

Figure 3.5: Differences Between CNN and Fox News.

Figure 13.1: Donald Trump’s First Tweet After Being Elected President.

Figure 13.2. Hillary Clinton’s Birthday Tweet Before 2016 Election Day.

| ix →


Table 2.1: Hierarchical Regression of Demographics, Political Leaning, Media Visibility, and Parasocial Interaction on Liking, Trusting, and Voting for Trump.

Table 4.1: OLS Regression: Effects on News Trust.

Table 4.2: OLS Regression: Hostile Media Effects (Perception of Liberal Bias).

Table 6.1: 20 Most Engaged Fake News Stories on Facebook (Silverman, 2016).

Table 6.2: Journalistic Styles Employed in Fake News Articles.

Table 6.3: Themes.

Table 8.1: Overall Newspaper Coverage of Hillary Clinton by Interest Areas.

Table 8.2: Coverage of Hillary Clinton by Newspapers in All Interest Areas.

Table 8.3: Coverage of Hillary Clinton by Newspapers in Interest Areas Except Trump.

Table 9.1: Main Subtopic in Mexican Newspaper Coverage of Donald Trump’s Immigration Proposals, the U.S.-Mexico Border, and the Border Wall.

Table 10.1: Number of the Candidates’ Mentions in Sputnik and VOA.

Table 10.2: The Tone of Trump and Clinton Coverage in Sputnik and VOA Articles.

Table 10.3: Policies Discussed by Clinton and Trump in Sputnik and VOA Coverage.

Table 13.1: Clinton and Trump’s 2016 Election Campaign Tweets. ← ix | x →

Table 13.2: Clinton and Trump’s 2016 Campaign Tweets: Major Themes.

Table 13.3: Clinton and Trump’s 2016 Campaign Tweets: Endorsement and Voting Frames.

| 1 →



Franklin Delano Roosevelt used radio fireside chats to connect with millions of Americans (Levin, 2008, p. 109). The highly articulate and telegenic John F. Kennedy was dubbed the first TV president (Walsh, 2013). Ronald Reagan, the so-called Great Communicator, had a conversational way of speaking to the common man (Nunberg, 2004) and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) pursued a radical deregulation agenda under President Reagan’s watch (Sterling, n.d.). Bill Clinton left his mark on media industries by championing and signing the landmark Telecommunication Act of 1996 into law (McCabe, 2016). Barack Obama was the first social media presidential campaigner and president (Eilperin, 2015). And now there is President Donald J. Trump.

Presidential candidates, particularly successful ones, and presidents can directly and indirectly alter the political communication landscape by reshaping the norms of voters’ expectations, by their use of rhetoric and communication technologies, by the laws and policies they champion and the legal responses to their communicative practices and policies and by mainstream journalism’s response to presidents and presidential hopefuls. Moreover, as Kevin Coe (2016) argued in summing up research on presidential rhetoric, the role of the president has “become less about being head of state and more about being a constant campaigner for public attention and support.” New York Times media columnist David Carr’s (2008) did not predict the rise of Trump, but his assessment about the social media’s potential as a political communication tool when he wrote about Obama’s capitalization of social media now seems prescient.

The juxtaposition of a networked, open-source campaign and a historically imperial office will have profound implications and raise significant questions. Special-interest groups and lobbyists will now contend with an environment of ← 1 | 2 → transparency and a president who owes them nothing. The news media will now contend with an administration that can take its case directly to its base without even booking time on the networks.

As a political campaigner and now as President, Trump has been a political communication phenomenon. Thus, one can argue that communication and media scholars are particularly well positioned to make sense of Trump’s unconventional candidacy and presidency because so much of what has made him so dramatically different from his predecessors has been about communication—his experience in reality TV, what he has said to voters, how he has said it, how he has used Twitter to convey his political messages and how the news media and voters have interpreted and responded to his public words and persona. Concisely, that is the rationale behind this collection of studies and essays. Here, 21 communication and media scholars apply agenda setting, parasocial interaction relationship, and media representation of race, press criticism, political economy, and political rhetorical and ethical theories along with legal and textual analyses to assess the Trump phenomenon. Their works cover the presidential campaign and the first year of the Trump Administration.

Eighteen months into his presidency when this anthology went to press, we could not know for certain whether Trump’s use of Twitter during the election campaign and into his presidency, his self-dubbed “fake news” campaign against the news media, his incivility and his status as the first reality TV president would have long-term effects on political campaigning, presidential rhetoric, democratic discourse, journalism practice and politicians’ use of social media. The scholars here, however, tells us that his impact on political communication, journalism coverage and social media has been significant even when he was not the catalyst such as in the Russian-created disinformation fake news and ad campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Their works are presented in four parts: “I. Blurred Lines: When Reality TV becomes Political Reality,” II. “Campaign and Presidential Rhetoric,” III. “Assessing News Media Performance,” and IV. “Why Twitter and Facebook May Never be the Same.”

Trump, of course, was an unconventional presidential candidate and the 2016 campaign in which a candidate who never held political office squared off against the first female presidential candidate was singular in American history. Though a presidential campaign novice, Trump had the advantage of personal wealth to help him partially fund his campaign and to allow him to claim he wasn’t beholden to big money (Carroll, 2016). But more to the point, Trump was an experienced public communicator in three kinds of media: books, television and Twitter. He had hands-on experience in ← 2 | 3 → self-promotion as a book author, reality TV star, and as a highly public casino owner and real estate developer, which he exploited on his way to the White House. In his bestseller, The Art of the Deal, he explained (Lozada, 2015):

During the campaign, he drew upon his 14 seasons as the host and executive producer of the reality TV shows The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice to develop “a blunt speaking style, a tendency to taunt his rivals and play them against one another, and a theatrical sense of timing—that have flustered rivals who at times can’t seem to believe that they are losing to him” (Sellers, 2016). John H. Parmelee (2016), a contributor to this scholarly anthology, has suggested that Trump’s reality TV presence translated into votes.

In Part I. “Blurred Lines: When Reality TV Becomes Political Reality,” June Deery and co-authors, Sara S. Hansen and Shu-Yueh Lee build on parasocial relationship theory to make a case for attributing a good deal of Trump’s campaign success to the “illusion of intimacy” (Horton & Wohl, 1956) TV viewers developed with Trump from watching “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” In “American Idol: Trump’s Administration and Reality TV,” Deery compares the Trump Administration to two reality TV formats: the gamedoc and the docusoap because much of what the president practiced on The Apprentice—attracting sponsorship, maximizing attention, faking it, or winning at all costs—translated well into politics for Trump. “His rise,” Deery maintains, “certifies that we are in an era of politainment, where politicians are marketed as entertainers, entertainers are injected into politics, and the commercial pressure to entertain creates a distortion field within which journalists must work.” ← 3 | 4 →

Co-authors Hansen and Lee conducted an online survey in spring 2016 of 268 young voters, ages 18–25 years, to determine the parasocial effects of watching The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice and attitudes toward Trump as a presidential candidate. The findings of their study show, among other things, a link between wishing to be like Trump as he was depicted on the reality TV shows—“a real, successful businessman in a reality show who not only demonstrated his business skills but also showed the way he was a powerful and decisive boss”—and voting for him. Their findings are reported in “Young Viewers Turned Voters—How ‘Wishing to be Trump’ and Other Parasocial Effects from Watching The Apprentice Predict Likeability, Trust, and Support for a Celebrity President.”

Part II: Campaign and Presidential Rhetoric. “Popular or mass rhetoric, which Presidents once employed only rarely, now serves as one of their principle tools in attempting to govern the nation” wrote Ceaser, Thuerow, Tulis, and Bessette (1981, p. 159) when they introduced their theory of the rhetorical presidency. “More important even than the quantity of popular rhetoric is the fact that presidential speech and action increasingly reflect the opinion that speaking is governing.”

Though Ceaser et al. (1981) were talking about radio and television, the role they assigned to broadcasting, as a facilitator of the rise of the rhetorical presidency, seems equally appropriate to the new mass media technology of Twitter. “[Broadcasting] has given the President the means by which to communicate directly and instantaneously with a large number national audience, thus tearing down the communications barrier on which the Founders had relied to insulate representative institutions from direct contact with the populace” (Ceaser et al., 1981, p. 164). In Trump’s tweeting, we see the full incarnation of the rhetorical presidency theory. Trump decrees domestic and foreign policy in his tweets and engages in an almost daily campaign to shore up his standing with his political base.

“Dog Whistle politics” is a form of campaign and presidential rhetoric—coded language about race—that politicians, primarily white Republicans, have used to “win elections and also to win support for regressive policies that help corporations and the super-rich, and in the process wreck the middle class” (López, 2014, xii). In “Donald Trump ‘Tells You What He Thinks,’” Mira Sotirovic and Christopher Benson identify “dog whistle” related words and phrases in transcripts of the three presidential debates and transcripts of the next day coverage on CNN and Fox News, CNN online stories, and CNN and Fox News Facebook page comments. Their psycho-linguistic approach and application of computerized text analyses methodology reveal (i) that news media discussions on race and ethnicity lacked positive emotion and ← 4 | 5 → cognitive processes that people use to understand their world; (ii) discussion among Facebook users about the debate, however, revealed emotional reactions and attempts to understand (iii) and coverage of race was strikingly different on CNN and Fox.

“The rhetorical signature that Donald Trump deployed as a presidential candidate, as president-elect, and during the first 100 days of his presidency includes seeming spontaneity laced with Manichean, evidence-flouting, accountability-dodging, and institution-disdaining claims” (Jamieson & Taussig, 2017, p. 620). In “‘Enemies of the People’: Elites, Attacks, and News Trust in the Era of Trump,” Jason Turcotte assesses Trump’s evidence-flouting and accountability-dodging as a strategy of deflection, “a rhetorical tactic that enables politicians to dodge questions and shift public focus onto news professionals in ways that seem to strain the relationship the news media has with their audiences.” The result, derived from his online pilot study, show that Trump’s news media bashing rhetoric has mixed effects. It reduces the levels of trust in truth in the news among those sharing Trump’s ideological view, but increases trust in the news among those more critical of the Trump presidency. The strategy of deflection, Turcotte says, now a mainstream on the campaign trail, taps into growing public dissatisfaction with the news media and is normalized through Trump’s rhetorical style.

In “The Commander in Tweets: President Trump’s Use of Twitter to Defend,” Jeffrey Delbert identifies rhetorical patterns in Trump’s Twitter-produced messages from @realDonaldTrump and @POTUS that he used to defend himself from critics during the president’s first 100 days in office and looks at how Trump’s tweeting molds conversations in the United States. Delbert identifies a four-part rhetorical strategy in Trump’s tweets: (i) dismantle traditional information sources; (ii) shift the blame; (iii) dismiss the significance of longstanding institutions and (iv) deny accusations via Twitter and not through the filters of most major mainstream news outlets. “With an indiscriminate tongue, Trump’s words make us question all the ways we are able to communicate, especially those that foster trust in the processes that guarantee our rights,” Delbert concludes.

Part III: Assessing News Media Performance. “Journalism scholars critique news in many ways, but a central thread involves questions around truth and accuracy” (Bird & Dardenne, 2009, p. 205). Another core component of journalism studies is the belief that journalism plays a critical role in liberal democracies, that it should operate in the interest of the public and not for government or powerful institutions and corporations and that journalists “may be expected or obligated to render an account of their activities to their constituents” (Pritchard, 2000, p. 2). Accordingly, the authors of this section ← 5 | 6 → assess news coverage here and abroad of the 2016 presidential election campaign, and fake news and mainstream media’s response to it from a variety of theoretical perspectives.

In “American Media and the Rise of Trump” Victor Pickard looks through the lens of history and political economy of the media theory to reveal how corporate broadcast and cable news media’s profit imperative gave ratings-magnet Trump an advantage over his political rivals and at the voters’ expense. Pickard offers alternatives to profit-motivated news media, which, he argues, would better promote meaningful democratic discourse.

Mitchell T. Bard’s “From Fox News to Fake News: An Anatomy of the Top 20 Fake News Stories on Facebook Before the 2016 Election” examines the content of the 20 most engaged fake news stories on Facebook before the election. Specifically, the study looks at how the fake news articles were crafted and the themes they covered. An analysis of the Fox News Channel program “The O’Reilly Factor” provides insight into why the authors of the fake news articles may have chosen the topics and approaches found in the pieces. Bard found that more than half of the articles made no attempt to mimic traditional news tone and structure and the vast majority were advocacy or persuasion pieces and many focused on the same themes—Hillary Clinton was corrupt or a criminal. Those themes were topics discussed on “The O’Reilly Factor” in July and August 2016, though the author makes no claim of proof of causality. “This mixing of mainstream and the fringe helps illustrate another takeaway from this study,” Bard concludes, “namely the two factors that enabled and shaped the explosion of the 2016 version of fake news: the solidification of the role of partisan cable television—specifically, Fox News Channel—and the emergence of social media.”

Laurel Leff offers a critique of The New York Times and The Washington Post’s coverage of Wikileaks disclosure of Hillary Clinton-related emails published from July 22, 2016 to November 8, 2016. In “We’ve Got Mail (But Probably Shouldn’t): The Press, WikiLeaks and Democratic Disclosures in the 2016 Election,” Leff contends that decisions to publish the stolen and private emails violated six traditional journalistic norms and that the mundane and gossipy content of the emails failed to rise to the level of newsworthiness in the public’s interest when weighed against the concerns about publishing stolen private information.

In “The Media was the Message: Gendered Coverage of Hillary Clinton’s Historic 2016 Campaign for U.S. President,” Dianne Bystrom and Kimberly Nelson report the results of a computer-assisted content analysis designed to assess how The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today covered Hillary Clinton during the two-and-one half ← 6 | 7 → months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Their study found that masculine issues were around three times more likely to be mentioned in newspaper articles about presidential candidate Clinton than feminine issues, “words associated with scandals comprised a large percentage of her newspaper coverage” and references to white or whites as her constituency was virtually on par with mentions of women as constituents. Consistent with the findings of previous studies of women in politics, Bystrom and Nelson found that Clinton received more coverage than Trump on words associated with personal appearance, health and family.

How did the Mexican news media cover the Trump presidency? Melissa A. Johnson and Héctor Rendón applied agenda-setting concepts to analyze Mexican news coverage by three Mexico-city based newspapers of Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, focusing primarily on the immigration issue in “Goodbye Neighbor: Mexican News Coverage of the Wall and U.S. Immigration Proposals.” The newspapers, according to Johnson and Rendón, gave the most attention to the proposed wall, actions taken by Mexico related to U.S. proposals, effects of Trump proposals and U.S. immigration policies on Mexico, U.S. actions against Mexicans and U.S.-Mexico bilateral actions or statements and multi-lateral relations, all of which appeared to align with public opinion in Mexico. Not surprisingly, “the newspapers’ sources and topics showed equal contempt for Trump’s wall and the proposed immigration policies” with most articles expressing concern about Mexico’s dignity or sovereignty.

Nataliya Roman and John H. Parmelee’s “A ‘Political Novice’ vs. the ‘Queen of War’: How State-Sponsored Media Framed the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign” also assesses foreign news coverage, specifically how the Voice of America (U.S.) and Sputnik (Russia) covered the presidential candidates, Trump and Clinton, and their related policies. Some unanticipated findings: Clinton appeared in more Sputnik stories than Trump and Trump drew more attention from Voice of America. About half of Sputnik stories about Trump and Clinton were neutral though Trump looked like the lesser of two evils in Sputnik reports and opinion pieces. Not so surprisingly, a large number of Sputnik articles hinted that a Clinton president would lead to war with Russia. Sputnik, however, repeatedly mentioned Trump’s character flaws and lack of political experience.

All politicians lie. But Trump has arguably lied more than any other president in American history, creating an unparalleled need for the media and politically oriented citizens to fact-check the words of the president. So says Beth Knobel, the author of “‘Judicious Skepticism’: Fact-Checking Trump.” Knobel documents the efforts by new and traditional news outlets to verify ← 7 | 8 → Trump’s statements and applies the classical philosophies of René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza and psychological studies of Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert to assess whether the new fact-checking effort by news organization helps the public sort out the truth from Trump’s lies. Does fact-checking work? In the age of post-truth politics that Trump has ushered in and when most Americans are consuming media that align with their ideological perspectives, fact checking has had a mixed impact, Knobel concludes.

As even a casual follower of the news knows, Trump is the Press Critic-In-Chief who rails against the mainstream news media. He accuses his primary targets—CNN, The New York Times, NBC, ABC and the Washington Post—of trying to undermine his presidency with false reports from unnamed sources and intentionally reporting inaccurate and biased stories that put him in a bad light. I argue, however, in “Trump, the Press Critic: Unethical and Ineffective,” that gauged by the norms of press criticism theories, Trump engages in coercive speech that is incompatible with democratic discourse and, based on my own theory of press criticism introduced in 2008, he, unlike press critics such as liberal Jon Stewart or conservative Reed Irvine, has failed to persuade his targets or the bulk of the news audiences that his criticism has merit.

Part IV: Why Twitter and Facebook May Never be the Same. Diana Owen identifies three distinctive but overlapping phases of the evolution of campaign communication in the new media era: (i) “old media, new politics; (ii) new media, new politics 1.0 and new media, new politics 2.0 (Owen, 2017, pp. 824–825). In the first phrase political candidates sought to gain favorable coverage by appearing on entertainment media outlets such as television talk and comedy shows. In the second phase, “by the year 2000 election, all major and many minor candidates had basic websites that were heavily texted” (2017, p. 824). In the third phase, starting with the 2008 election the most notable development was “the use of social media, such as Facebook, and video sharing sites, like YouTube, for peer-to-peer exchange of election information, campaign organizing, and election participation (2017, p. 825).


X, 354
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (September)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. X, 354 pp., 7 b/w ill., 16 tables

Biographical notes

Arthur S. Hayes (Volume editor)

Arthur S. Hayes is an associate professor at Fordham University in New York. He holds a J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law, and before joining academia, he worked as a journalist for several news outlets, including the American Lawyer, the National Law Journal, and the Wall Street Journal. He is the author of Press Critics Are the Fifth Estate: Media Watchdogs in America and Sympathy for the Cyberbully: How the Crusade to Censor Hostile and Offensive Online Speech Abuses Freedom of Expression.


Title: Communication in the Age of Trump
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