Post 9/11 mainstream media has been filled with fear mongering about “the other”. Part of this was not the fault of the news channels as we have seen the setbacks and challenges that have come with globalisation and the increase of terrorist activities throughout the world.
However it is undeniable fact that the corporate media’s such as Fox News have targeted immigrants and minorities (often misleading the public and exaggerating issues such as terrorism) and focusing specifically on the Muslim faith and Muslim extremist groups while at the same time giving less or no platform to the figures in that community who represent the vast majority of Muslims that abhor terrorism and extremism that are done in the name of their faith.
After indulging years of misinformation regarding Muslims and immigrants in general, much of the American electorates have gone further to the right and in the right moment, candidate Trump seized the opportunity to portray himself as the voice of the alt-right, giving hope to the steelworker whose job will in reality never return and the disillusioned voter who is tired of old politics.
(Greenwald, 2015, The Intercept)
In reality, positive messages or messages that are based on the notion that, we should do good don’t get as much attention as messages of fear and division, after all, fear sells. Therefore the millions of Americans who have been taught to be scared of the “other” for decades have finally found a candidate who says publically what they had in mind.
“The truth is that in politics as in everyday life, the message that we should do good is often less powerful a motivator of human action and behavior than the message that we should avoid harm” (Campbell-Rodriques, 2017, The New Times)
Evaluating Trumps win through the old ways such as scheduling and polling is just lazy and wrong. Trump won because he had a better communication strategy than the rest of the GOP candidates and Hillary, especially his use of social medias such as twitter has helped him immensely, by tweeting things that normal politicians simply would not, has made him seem like an ordinary person who speaks out their thoughts rather than a politician who filter their statements.
when it comes to social media all candidates were involved but what put Donald trump above others was his unconventional techniques, he was able to get far more responses from social; media users as shown by the above research done by The Pew Research Centre in 2016.
According to a 2016 survey by GALLUP showed that American public’s trust of the media has dropped to an all-time low
Furthermore, the public’s trust of mainstream media has substantially diminished in recent years with “nearly 42 percent” of the public not bothering to watch political ads (something the Clinton campaign spent heavily on) therefore Trumps often outrageous and continued statements made much of the public to pay more attention to his twitter account directly. (Khan, 2016, the Hill)
Donald Trump exploited his already established brand identity and celebrity name to “attract attention”, something the Clinton campaign did not have. The Clinton name is a powerful brand but not as appealing, many people disliked political decisions Hillary and President Clinton have made over their long political careers, while trump, on the other hand, was associated with entertainment. (Rivero, 2016, the Washington Post)
Although on the surface the mainstream media and trump do not have good relationship, Trump is a rating Phenom for the media because he is so unpredictable that he can for a minute talk sensible and the next refuse to shake hands with the German chancellor, and this unpredictability, gives the media ratings boost as ordinary Americans are suddenly interested in what the president is up to. (Sillito, 2016, BBC)
Throughout the campaign trump spent less than half of the $200 million Clinton spent on TV ads, instead the trump campaign spent much of their time and money on social media mainly on Facebook which has generated them over $250 million in online fundraising. According to Brad Parscale digital director for the trump campaign, Facebook and twitter were the main reason they won the election, that “twitter for Mr. Trump and Facebook for fundraising” (Lapowsky, 2016, WIRED)
Furthermore, Trump still got over $2 billion worth of free TV as television networks broadcasted his campaign speeches thoroughly.
To conclude Trump’s unconventional ways of communication has clearly resonated with his supporters won him the presidency and has changed conventional communication methods between American politicians and the public forever.
Campbell-Rodriques, Natalie (2017) Strategic Communication: lessons from President Trump – The New Times Rwanda
Greenwald, Glenn (2015) The Greatest Obstacle to Anti-Muslim fearmongering and Bigotry: Reality – The Intercept
Khan, Laeeq (2016) Trump won thanks to social media – The Hill
Lapowsky, Issie. (2016) Here’s How Facebook Actually Won Trump the Presidency – WIRED
Pew Research Centre (2016)
Rivero, Cristina. (2016) How marketing helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election – The Washington Post
Sillito, David. (2016) Donald Trump: How the media created the president – BBC News
Swift, Art (2016) Americas’ trust in Mass Media Sinks to new Low – GALLUP