Is Donald Trump a thought leader

Presidential press - Trump's media entourage

Status: October 21, 2020 2:27 p.m.

After four years of Trump, the US is deeply divided into its opponents and its supporters. The media are doing their part in this split.

by Nils Altland

In less than two weeks - on November 3, 2020 - the US will elect its new president. Regardless of the outcome of the election, one thing is already clear: After four years of Trump's presidency, the United States is deeply divided, in terms of Trump opponents and his supporters. This polarization cannot be understood without the role of the media, which stand for these camps: Liberal media such as CNN or the "New York Times" on the one hand and right-wing media on the other.

Keyword of the President

The main mouthpiece of the Trump administration is Fox News. Its ties to the White House are close: the moderators Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro work alongside their work for the station as advisers to the president. So much so that some White House staff describe Hannity as a "shadow chief of staff." Trump is said to watch the program for up to six hours a day, repeatedly calling the station spontaneously and broadcasting it live by phone. Donald Trump is not only influencing the program - Fox News is also the president's key word. The think tank Media Matters recently published a study on Trump's Twitter behavior. The result: No other medium has quoted Trump so often in his tweets over the past two years, by a large margin.

Words followed deeds

The cruel consequences this connection can have can be seen in the case of the attack in El Paso, Texas: In November 2018, Fox News presenter Tucker Carlson warned against a trek by Latin American refugees who were moving towards the US border and called it a " Invasion". Trump quickly adopted the term in his speeches and tweets. In August last year, a 21-year-old white man in El Paso shot and killed 23 people, mostly of Latin American origin. In his manifesto he spoke of an "invasion" of Latin American migrants.

Political scientist Michael Werz sees a connection between the attack in El Paso and Trump's tweets.

For the German political scientist Michael Werz, who lives in the USA, there is a clear connection: "That was a young man who, motivated by Donald Trump, is writing a manifesto. And in it, not only refers to Trump, but also to some literal formulations takes over from tweets from Donald Trump. "

Attacks as a trademark

Political scientist Cathryn Clüver-Ashbrook follows the division of society with concern.

The president's constant arguments with his critics in the liberal media shaped his first term in office. Trump's attacks have long since become a trademark: CNN and Co. are therefore always "fake news", propagandists of an allegedly left-wing extremist establishment. This mantra is repeated by his supporters at Fox News, but also by more extreme stations such as One America News, on the talk radio programs of Rush Limbaugh or on online platforms such as Infowars by the conspiracy ideologist Alex Jones. The political scientist Cathryn Clüver-Ashbrook from the Harvard Kennedy School observes this development with concern: "It is leaving its mark on American society. Entire residential areas and neighbors are becoming unable to speak to one another."

Division declared goal

The division of society is not an undesirable side effect, but a declared goal of the Trump camp. Because this represents a memorable understanding of democracy with its white identity politics. Sebastian Gorka, close advisor to Trump and pioneer of his politics, puts it this way: "Politics is not about creating unity. It is about winning the competition of ideas. That is democracy: a car race! And we have to see who has the fastest car. "

On Monday, October 26th the first shows the documentary at 10:50 p.m. "Insane - Trump and the American Disaster" by the authors Klaus Brinkbäumer and Stephan Lamby, on whose research and images this article is based.

The media and the US elections

NDR author Johannes Edelhoff is for ZAPP in the USA and accompanies the media election campaign. He reports from the United States at random. more


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ZAPP | 10/21/2020 | 11:20 pm