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Communication in the Age of Trump


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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13. Tweeting the Election: Comparative Uses of Twitter by Trump and Clinton in the 2016 Election (Flora Khoo / William Brown)


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13. Tweeting the Election: Comparative Uses of Twitter by Trump and Clinton in the 2016 Election


Regent University

(We would like to thank Rebecca John for her time and assistance as a coder for inter-rater reliability. This chapter would not have been possible without her help.)

“Such a beautiful and important evening! The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again. We will all come together as never before” (Trump, 2016). This was the first tweet by property mogul, Donald Trump, after being successfully elected as president of the United States (U.S.) in the 2016 elections (see Figure 13.1). Trump’s tweet was liked 629,307 times and retweeted 225,429 times.

Figure 13.1: Donald Trump’s First Tweet After Being Elected President. ← 261 | 262 →

Social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have become an essential part of political campaigns. The first presidential election in which Twitter was heavily used was in 2012, as it was sometimes referred to as the “Twitter election” (McKinney, Houston, & Hawthorne, 2014). Both the public and journalists used Twitter to send and receive news and political analysis on the election. Consider the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, which generated 6.5 million tweets the evening of the event in the 2012 election (Sharp, 2012). Such a large volume of tweets provides the potential to influence public opinion....

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