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Communication in the Age of Trump

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Edited By Arthur S. Hayes

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.

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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)

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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 AND SHU-YUEH LEE

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Populist support for a new type of presidential candidate—a rich reality TV star who never held public office—carried Donald Trump to the White House in 2016. Trump won broad appeal across voter demographics and beliefs (Bowman, 2017) while making a series of controversial campaign statements that typically would lessen a candidate’s appeal (McCammon, 2016). His direct communication, at times combative and controversial, through his campaign, White House, and Twitter channels has been cast as reality TV politics in Fox News to The New York Times, for the “showman who has made a career of keeping the audience engaged and coming back for more” (Baker, 2017, p. 1).

Many Americans first became familiar with Trump as the showman hosting the reality TV series The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice, which ran for 14 seasons since 2004. NBC parted ways with the host in 2015 after he made inflammatory campaign comments about Mexicans. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former movie star and two-term governor of California, served as new host for one season (Keveney, 2017). Trump’s role as politician conflicted with his Apprentice role on NBC. Yet, could the way Americans related to Trump from watching his reality show have...

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