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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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Introduction (Arthur S. Hayes)

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Introduction

ARTHUR S. HAYES

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...

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