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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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7. We’ve Got Mail (But Probably Shouldn’t): The Press, WikiLeaks, and Democratic Disclosures in the 2016 Election (Laurel Leff)

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7. We’ve Got Mail (But Probably Shouldn’t): The Press, WikiLeaks, and Democratic Disclosures in the 2016 Election

LAUREL LEFF

Northeastern University

There is no longer any question that the Russians used the mainstream media to weaponize hacked Democratic emails in order to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The remaining question is why the media abrogated their own standards and allowed themselves to be used as missiles in the Russians’ campaign.1

During the final 15 weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, The New York Times and The Washington Post ran over 50 articles each focused on the hacked emails: 57 in The Times and 53 in The Post. The articles clustered around the first Democratic National Committee emails disclosed during the party’s convention at the end of July and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s personal emails disclosed during the campaign’s last four weeks.

What makes the extensive coverage in the nation’s two most important news organizations so remarkable is that the decision to publish information from the hacked accounts violates six traditional journalistic norms.

• First, the emails were stolen and journalists rightly hesitate to use stolen information.

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