President Trump’s tweets often leave us shaking our heads out of disbelief. Is he allowed to say these things? Are his claims even based on fact? According to author and Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at University of California Berkeley George Lakoff, Trump manipulates the media with each tweet he posts. And Lakoff created a simple chart to explain exactly how he does it.
Lakoff breaks these Trump tweet tactics into four categories: preemptive framing, diversion, deflection, and trial balloon. Each strategy is used to warp his followers’ thoughts and, in turn, the media’s reporting.
Trump’s tweets are absorbed daily by his massive social media following of both supporters and critics. When the media relays and repeats the president’s messages, even in an effort to undermine him, Lakoff explains that the repetition alone helps Trump gain more attention.
Using these manipulative Twitter tactics, well aware that reporters will run with everything he says, Trump effectively keeps the media under his thumb.
Being aware of the president’s use of preemptive framing, diversion, deflection, and trial balloon can help pull the public out of the dangerous cycle we’re currently a part of. Lakoff calls for change regarding how we handle these volatile tweets.
Our opinions are being twisted by Trump, even if we don’t agree with him. It’s hard to not pay attention when our president taunts a dictator with nuclear weapons. And it’s difficult not to point out the absurdity that is our president still tweeting about his 2016 campaign opponent.
But to get the media and our own opinions back on track, we need to take a step back from the Trump Twitter spectacle. Going forward, we must recognize the manipulative tactics and realize he’s only tweeting to serve his own agenda.