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Donald Trump is one of the most controversial politicians of our time. On the one hand, this refers to his policies, but on the other hand, it also refers to his political style: Trump himself explicitly sees himself as a Twitter president. But what exactly is that supposed to be? What role does Twitter play in "official" communication, for example, in relation to classic media? Communications expert Klaus Kamps addresses these questions in this popular science essay.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. President

Abstract
On a gray and chilly day in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2017, on the steps of the Capitol Donald Trump took the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States. “Well, that was some weird s... ” commented George W. Bush—not the oath or the drizzle, but The Donalds inaugural address. The nation had heard of a country that was down and out. Of abandoned industrial landscapes and barren fields. A junkyard, metaphorically spoken, that Trump would now take care of: back to old greatness. In the midst of his country’s establishment, the new president offered a program of a particular quality—that had (his) style. A celebration of contrast.
Klaus Kamps

2. Foundations

Abstract
Mark Burnett did not invent “reality TV.” But with The Survivor, he put precursors like MTV’s The Real World far in the shade: In the summer of 2000, around 50 million viewers watched the finale of the first season of the island show. Its winner, Richard Hatch, has since been considered the first reality TV star. Today, that is still worth mentioning because he is said to have fascinated his audience primarily with a great talent for backstabbing and scheming; sort of like the creep J.R. Ewing in the 1980s ratings hit Dallas. In the spring of 2004, when Burnett met Trump in New York, he was planning a new format. The Survivor was getting a bit long in the tooth. A concept was in place, and what Burnett was still looking for was sort of a judge with Hatch-qualities.
Klaus Kamps

3. Campaigns

Abstract
In October 2008, barely a month before the presidential election, at a town hall meeting in Minnesota, a citizen confronted John McCain with her reservations about Barack Obama: “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him. He’s an Arab.” McCain responded, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.” Thereby the senator buried the rural event instead of calming tensions; any attempts at factual discussion failed.
Klaus Kamps

4. POTUS: President of the United States

Abstract
Picture-perfect for all who were also somehow entertained by Trump’s presidency, a finally complete cabinet gathered at the White House on June 12, 2017, for its first meeting. It had taken some time, after turbulent weeks, the opportunity was to present the government as a business-ready entity. Of course, such public meetings at the White House are part of the business model, not just since Trump. However, this event in particular marked a cabinet meeting for the ages.
Klaus Kamps

5. The Post-truth Presidency

Abstract
On September 5, 2018, the New York Times published an opinion piece that caused quite a stir in the country and in the White House. Under the title “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” an anonymous staffer reported on the decision-making chaos in the Trump White House. The president’s management style was “impetuous, aggressive, narrow-minded and inefficient.” Not to mention many of Trump’s legally questionable ideas. So “heroes” (like himself) would “secretly resist” all the unreasonableness in the White House and try to do “what’s right.”
Klaus Kamps

6. Foxworld: Trumpland

Abstract
In January 2018, in the midst of the longest government shutdown in American history, Donald Trump visited Hidalgo County, Texas. On the banks of the Rio Grande, a photo opportunity had been prepared just across the river from Mexico to put the beleaguered president in the spotlight: confiscated narcotics and border agents vividly marked Trump’s claim to build a border wall. What journalists noticed right away when they were allowed to enter the camera-ready scene was the one person that had already been there—Sean Hannity, Fox News anchor, chatting familiarly with government officials behind the barriers. Fox: part of Team Trump.
Klaus Kamps

7. The Substitute King (and His Framers)

Abstract
In mid-September 2019, it became known in Washington that an anonymous whistleblower from the ranks of the US intelligence services had triggered an internal whistleblower procedure: in a phone call in June, Trump allegedly urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selinskyi to open an investigation against Hunter Biden (Joe Biden’s son). The president may have withheld aid money—money that had already been approved by Congress—until Ukraine publicly announced an investigation on (corruption allegations). Immediately, the implication was that Trump had abused his office and pressured a foreign government to gain a personal advantage in the 2020 election. The phone call itself was not in dispute. Trump spoke of a “nice” conversation; later it was always “perfect.” And of course, there was no trace of pressure on Selinskyi.
Klaus Kamps

8. Crisis Communication

Abstract
On March 6, 2020, President Trump visited a health center in Atlanta; after a facility tour, he expressed being impressed with the testing procedures. They were not only “beautiful,” he said, but as perfect as his phone call the other day (to Ukraine). There was little sign of concern about the pandemic that was just gaining momentum. Instead, Trump discovered something new—his own personal insightfulness. Dr. Trump: “I like this stuff. I really get it. (...) Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability.” Lastly, he asked a Fox News reporter how good the ratings of the news show had been the night before.—Amazing how this works: a presidency in six sentences.
Klaus Kamps

9. The Deformed Presidency and Its Degraded Institutions

Abstract
In the spring of 2016, as it became increasingly likely that Donald Trump would win the Republican presidential nomination, Robert Kagan published an article in the Washington Post with the ominous title “This is how fascism comes to America.” The conservative Kagan took a wide swipe, coupling the Founding Fathers’ fear of a disenchanted mob surrendering to a demagogue to Trump—his “style” and his “resentments.” Any approach to Donald Trump’s presidency arguably cannot avoid adopting a similar perspective. For if there is an overarching question, a kind of meta-theme to this administration, it is the question of the stability of the democratic institutions in the United States.
Klaus Kamps

10. In the Age of Subversion

Abstract
Mission Accomplished: On May 1, 2003, when George W. Bush declared the end of the Iraq war on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, some miles off the coast of California, few Americans were impressed. Even when it became known that the carrier had made an expensive 180-degree turn to ensure a camera-perfect exposure to light, no one doubted the point of the exercise. Rite and staging are a traditional part of the US presidency. However, history not always follows the purpose: George W. Bush with his all too hasty proclamation on the aircraft carrier—an historic symbol of the disaster of US foreign policy in the Iraq. On June 1, 2020, as if inspired by Bush, Donald Trump delivered an image with similar implications. A photo of tremendous self-exposure.
Klaus Kamps
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