Trump’s re-election starts with bullying, fakery and a ban on blocking in social media

I blogged about Donald Trump the candidate four times during his election campaign, but have kept quiet on his service as President. Elections are sprints of message, media, economics and the popular mind, and race between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton was a cultural Rorschach. The campaign provided jumping off points to talk about business, marketing, tech and cultural themes:


Trump can’t block Twitter users, the implications may chill interaction
Of the five freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution (go ahead, try to recall them right now), the Right of Petition is often overlooked. But the other, more famous rights, might be unenforceable against the government except for this basic right. To strike this nail even harder, our Declaration of Independence was exactly such a petition of grievance.

The Second Circuit ruled that the replies section on President Trump’s Twitter account is a public forum and that the President cannot block his critics from reading his tweets or participating in the forum merely because he dislikes their views.

The ruling’s basis rests of a series of findings:

  1. The account is in fact controlled and maintained by the government, and used to conduct official governmental business.
  2. The interactive components of @realDonaldTrump constitute a public forum, a space generally open to indiscriminate public speech, in which viewpoint discrimination would be prohibited.
  3. That access blocked persons might gain doesn’t constitute unimpeded participation, or that the list of blocked users was somehow a whole separate expressive act by the President.

 

This will obviously have impact on thousands of elected officials, as well as forums under the control of staff at every level of government. One example of this is a case by PETA (an animal rights organization) against Texas A&M which deleted PETA’s comments and posts on the A&M Facebook page – to silence a PETA campaign to end a lab at A&M which experiments on dogs with muscular dystrophy.

Though not the President, these are government employees engaged in viewpoint discrimination. Its imaginable that such forums would be deactivated by government agencies, rather than fostering what might seem to be unpleasant debate to government officials.

The President bullies woman online, while the First Lady seeks to stop online bullying
Once again, America seems to lead the world in non-intentional irony. President Trump convened a gathering of “digital leaders for a robust conversation, which invited conservative activists to claim about digital platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter, which were not invited to participate.

Over the weekend, the President posted a series of controversial tweets that appear to be aimed at four Democratic congresswomen of color. Then last night, he agitated rally-goers with inflammatory rhetoric about Representative Ilhan Omar, a naturalized American born in Somalia, as his supporters chanted “send her back”.

It is inconceivable that First Lady’s anti-online bullying campaign, and website, can co-exist with the re-election campaign launched at last night’s rally. The bigoted, nativist fantasy of despotically deporting elected members of Congress for criticizing America, is the height of irony for a candidate who essentially ran for his first term on the theme, America Stinks. Though his inaugural address described “American carnage,” Trump now holds it unpatriotic to speak ill of country.

Fake news, fake supporters and now fake endorsements

The man who brought us the term, fake news, started his first campaign with fake supporters. As Donald Trump descended on an escalator to announce his candidacy three years ago, he was applauded by a crowd of actors paid $12,000 by the campaign. The FEC found the campaign hadn’t disclosed this payment to “fake supporters” but closed its investigation of this matter on the eve of the President’s inauguration.

Fast forward to this month, when advertising for the President’s re-election used videos of stock models (all from other country’s), and voice actors portraying “real endorsements“.  What does this even mean? Was Tracy from Florida, who gushed about the President being adored by women, actually a young woman, or from Florida? Was she twenty five and like somehow like the model associated with the endorsement, or was the endorsement from someone of a different age, from a different state, or perhaps a member of his cabinet? One is left imagining.

There’s something about an anonymous endorsement, which is portrayed by a voice actor and a whole different visual model actor that seems intentionally non-factual.  They took a quote from an anonymous source, and asked us to imagine it being said by a kind of person who is almost certainly different from whoever really said it. Otherwise, they’d show that person, making an actual endorsement.

The man who brought us Fake News, and Fake Supporters, started his campaign advertising with Fake Endorsements, inspired by real words, someone really said or wrote, maybe.

Its going to be a long campaign, for everyone.

 

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