Whitney Phillips explains how Trump controls the media

Description of this podcast episode:

Here’s a fun fact: The best training for understanding the president’s media strategy is to have studied internet trolls for years and years.

Okay, maybe that fact wasn’t so fun. Maybe it’s incredibly depressing.

At any rate, Whitney Phillips did exactly that. She was one of the earliest scholars of online trolling (yes, that’s a job). She was studying trolling when it was a tiny sideshow. And she was there, studying it, as online trolling got amplified by algorithmic platforms and a click-hungry media. As Gamergate made it a political movement. Then, most importantly, she was there, watching, as the media manipulation tactics that she had seen perfected by the trolls became the playbook for how Trump controls the media’s agenda, and the national conversation.

Covfefe is a word now. Deal with it

Excerpt from this article (and see also this one for background):

Trump’s tweet went thus: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”, and that was it. Keyboard detectives have pointed out that the strokes needed to type “erage” are vaguely similar to “fefe”, and that would fit semantically with the rest of the brainfart. So, boringly enough, he meant to type “coverage”. But it was too late. Covfefe was born.

And with it, the new discipline of Covfefe studies.

To Tweet Is Human, to Delete Divine

Excerpt from this article:

My creative process is simple. For example, say I am rushing to a meeting near Grand Central, bemoaning the fact that I’m not a morning person. I see a pigeon who has waddled in between two businesspeople waiting in line to buy coffee at a corner cart. Before the conscious part of my brain kicks in, the Twitter app is already open and my fingers are dashing off “A pigeon is waiting in line for coffee between two suits. I guess someone else also finally finished Lean In.”

Within seconds of posting any tweet, I’m checking and rechecking the screen to see what the favorability index is on my random speech bubble. If it’s in the double digits for likes, I tell myself that the West Coast hasn’t risen yet. My best tweet found favor with more than 40,000 people, the worst was deleted. The statistics are undeniably grotesque, yet compelling in their rigid judgment. It’s like a standup comedy set, except the feedback per joke is spread out over a much longer period, and you get specific detail on who responded and can adjust your delusions accordingly re: your “influence.”

It makes me wonder about Donald J. Trump’s Twitter origin story. According to his Twitter account, he has been a member since March 2009 and has tweeted more than 34,000 times. Did he get bitten by a radioactive exclamation point?

How memeable moments could help world leaders with their Trump problem

Donald Trump Hosts Canadian PM Justin Trudeau At The White House

Excerpt from this article:

Momentary flashes like these—tiny, seemingly insignificant and almost dismissible moments of resistance amid the strictures and intentionally bland standards of high-stakes diplomacy—are perfect antidotes to the officiousness of the formal event, allowing diplomacy to play out in two different venues: on the pure surface of the anodyne pressers and grip-and-grins, and in the roiling, uncontrollable, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ cauldron of social media.


Technology & Politics: Two Stories From the Weekend (Coup in Turkey, Trump Tweets VP)

Two big political stories over the weekend, with technology playing an interesting role in both. A VP candidate announced via Twitter, and Facetime used to resist a coup.


Turkish President Returns to Istanbul in Sign Military Coup Is Faltering

Excerpt from this article:

Before he made his televised remarks from the airport, Mr. Erdogan was forced to use his iPhone’s FaceTime app from a secret location to broadcast messages beseeching the public to resist the coup attempt.

“There is no power higher than the power of the people,” he said amid contradictory accounts of who was in control. “Let them do what they will at public squares and airports.”

After Mr. Erdogan spoke, many followers obeyed his orders to go into the streets, and mosque loudspeakers urged his supporters to protest the coup attempt.

Trump’s Celebrity Shortage

Excerpt from this article:

The process by which Trump got to Pence was sort of stunning — several days of familial gatherings, muddied decision-making and an overweening sense that the Big Guy himself just couldn’t nail the decision down… Eventually, Trump gave the rose to Pence via tweet. (“News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.”)

It should have been simple, and it was a monumental screw-up. Obviously, Trump’s not the only candidate who makes mistakes. We’ll be hearing a lot about Hillary and her emails… Based on the evidence we’ve seen so far, try to envision President Trump handling a crisis of major proportions. Pretend Wyoming is lifted into a giant spaceship by aliens who demand to speak with our leader.

  1. Trump, who is off inspecting a new golf course in Sri Lanka, tweets that he’s sending his top celebrity endorser, Wayne Newton
  2. Newton says no via Facebook.