Over the past months I’ve explained the “maze” theory of Donald Trump’s communication strategy. At the G-20 meetings in Europe, once again we have a classic example of misdirection and smokescreens to cover real, serious achievements.
Again, if you haven’t followed this, the assumption at the Trump White House is that
a) the fake news media will never, ever give positive coverage to any Trump program, no matter how successful or badly needed.
b) contrary to the old saw, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” Team Trump has decided that in fact no publicity is better. Let the programs and policies get implemented and people will see the results for themselves.
c) therefore, drawing attention away from the real policy objectives and achievements is a key element of success.
Hence, “covfefe” “PsychoJoe,” and the wrestling video.
The G-20 meeting offered a new, perfect example of how Trump’s Twitteronomics works. Among the administration’s central goals for the meetings were (as always) new trade policies—including liquid natural gas deals with Poland—and a frank discussion of areas of agreement and points of difference with Vladimir Putin and the Russian delegation.
So what does Trump tweet about almost immediately?
“Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!”
And the fake news media fell for it. The predictably ever-offended Washington Post asked “Everyone? Really?” Of course not everyone. Indeed, in Europe, 95% of the delegates probably never even heard of John Podesta and even of those who had, only a tiny handful were likely aware of his problems with the DNC server and the phishing expedition that landed Hillary’s e-mails in the public discourse.
And Trump knows that.
It was a classic two-fer: in a single “cheese in the maze” tweet, Trump set the news cycle yet again with the American fake news media—which began exactly as the Post did, questioning the accuracy of the term “everyone.” Yet, there it was: Trump somehow got Podesta and Hillary’s e-mails back in the public eye months after they (supposedly) had disappeared.
There is a maxim that the Bible is written for different audiences—that the Old Testament and the Law were written for Jews, and really had no relevance to anyone who wasn’t a Jew or didn’t want to convert. The New Testament was written for Christians, and the admonitions therein only applied to believers, not to Hindus or Buddhists or followers of other religions. Then there were the parts of the Bible written for all (“For God so loved the world . . . .”). But not everyone is bound by the Jewish law, nor is everyone bound by the instructions to Christian believers. Those parts of the Book aren’t for everyone.
The same applies to Trump’s tweeting. He’s like a super deluxe Westinghouse refrigerator: his supporters have the instruction book. They know when he’s speaking to them; they understand his phrases and, yes, his humor. But people working off a GE instruction manual or some other brand won’t have a clue. The instructions will be meaningless, all the more so because they lack any sense of humor about themselves at all.
Trump is a true culture warrior in the Andrew Breitbart mold, who understands how messages get through to ordinary people (70% of whom got their primary election information from the web in 2016!)
Most of Trump’s daily tweets are about real achievements, including meetings with foreign dignitaries, laws signed, executive orders issued, and so on. Those are for the “believers”—they are the daily achievement updates. Haters often don’t even both to read those, let alone understand their significance, for to that group nothing Trump can ever do will be positive.
But then there are the “PsychoJoe” and Podesta tweets. While Trumpers may get a chuckle out of these, everyone knows they are the cheese for the media to follow and that the real stuff is in other tweets.
There is, however, usually another ulterior motive for the “cheesy” Trump tweets: they usually signal some strategic movement, such as the delegitimization of CNN, or the possibility that some agency has “tapes of Comey’s meeting with Trump (even though Trump may not have them), or that the next phase of the Justice Department’s activities will involve a serious look at the lack of cooperation between the DNC and the FBI.
And that won’t be cheese, but a wasabi snooter, right up the Democrats’ noses.
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