Donald Trump – The Tweeting President

Following a tumultuous presidential campaign, Donald Trump has become the 45th President of the United States, succeeding President Barack Obama. The latter, for eight years, demonstrated an almost unmatched control of his public image and has forged the image of a president “cool” or even “swag”, notably thanks to an intensive use of social networks. Donald Trump’s use of his Twitter account, which is the antithesis of his predecessor, is already criticized for its negative impact on US foreign policy, including his counterparts. This phenomenon merited a few lines of non-exhaustive reflection

Some Background on US Presidential Communication

There are things which possess the rare faculty of disregarding the data that the real offers us to summon our imaginary imagination. Things to the evocation of which, for a moment, the concrete becomes foreign to us and our consciousness, nourished by images and words entered into history, television series and films entered into our unconscious, we Propelled into a phantasmagoric world. The communication from the President of the United States is one of those things.

Having already been included in many fictional works, the American presidential communication has entered full-scale into our collective imagination at the turn of the millennium, where from 1999 to 2006, Claudia Jean Cregg (Allison Janney), incarnates the screen- Spokesman of President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) in the series At the White House.

As instructive as it may be, this work, which is repeatedly rewarded, highlights the multiple and eminently complex issues involved in communicating the most influential office in the world, where each sentence, every word is relayed by innumerable channels Media and each intonation, furtive smile or rictus subject to multiple interpretations.

For it is indeed on all the actions of the President, and therefore all the powers vested in him by the American Constitution, that the right words, the strong images, and their adapted mode of transmission must be chosen.

When it comes to announcing the end of Osama bin Laden’s hunt, POTUS is in charge of it. The recourse to the fundamental bond uniting a nation to its President being justified here by the necessity of forming a body and turning together the page of the deepest trauma of modern Western history. And when, a few hours later (wisely) escaped the image of a Barack Obama reigning in a tension at its climax in the situation room during the assault, it is to his political opponents that it addresses . The same had forced him throughout the campaign for his lack of experience in diplomacy and military strategy. The words first, reporting to the country the end of an era. The image then, as to better show to this same country the end of a perception too long suffered.

When it comes to enjoining Americans to subscribe to health insurance before the deadline (public policy goal), it is Buzzfeed, the (originally) entertainment website that is chosen to relay a Video now cult where the cool attitude of POTUS would almost shade the message transmitted:

The President’s communication thus modulates his image, revealing the addresses to the nation which are of particular gravity, making entertaining practical information to ensure a more efficient sharing, leaving for the rest Pete Souza, official photographer of the White House, Of a close, class and casual President.


Image courtesy of Findadviser


Main features and background

If the adaptation of the mode of transmission of the presidential discourse to the objective pursued is constant, solicits many channels and works to “craft” a coherent image and message, it seems that the communication of the newly elected President does not intend to suffer This multitude of modes of communication, and want to elect as mirror to the world that one of them: Twitter.

At the same time, the twelve-monthly projections of the President-elect reveal a brutal break in the fundamental characteristics of nuance, prudence and delicacy that prevailed in the presidential communication until then.

Nuance in relation to the political opponents, so opposed to our ideas may be. We remember the words chosen, strong and worthy of Barack Obama in the aftermath of each mass crime, undeniably linked to the actions of the National Rifle Association and the impossible reform of the 2nd Amendment due in particular to contributions paid to Republican parliamentarians.

Prudence and delicacy in the report to the media, who, even if they devote themselves to an overwhelming relay of erroneous information, deserve at all times a consideration commensurate with the respect of the convictions and the credit that every fellow citizen Is likely to place in them.

Since the form is at the service of the bottom, the nuances, prudence and delicacy proper to the exercise of the function can not very easily accommodate an exclusive recourse to the 140 signs. However, the shock of Donald Trump’s election at the end of a campaign marked by extravagance and insult barely fade. Marie-C├ęcile Naves, a doctor of political science at Paris IX-Dauphine University and author of Trump, a populist shock wave, believes that it is precisely this “communication strategy that relies on immediacy, simplification of messages Politicians and the claim to be directly connected with voters “which has borne fruit during the last campaign. Moreover, the fact that the functioning of social networks relies on algorithms analyzing a multitude of data (gathering contacts, interactions, interests, etc.), making less critical and contradictory analysis possible. Clearly, the more information we ask for, the more likely we are to be offered it, and the less likely we are to be offered critical analyzes of it.

It remains to be seen how President Trump will take over this “digital infrastructure” representing a “capital on which the next president but also all the following will be able to build”, as Kori Schulman, advisor of Barack Obama on numerical questions, formulated it.

This break in the form and in the background of a communication that calls for a particular height of view probably tells much of how a certain category of leaders apprehends our time.

A certain vision of diplomacy on Twitter

Indeed, beyond the example of President Trump, the reinforced presence of the rulers on social networks is provoking a surprising evolution in the conduct of diplomatic relations. With the press of a thumb on the screen of their smartphones, leaders and diplomats are now out in the open, while bypassing the traditional media, to exchange “directly” with their counterparts and the general public on the news . Other actors such as citizens, NGOs or international organizations sometimes get involved in these exchanges, helping to transform social networks into a new virtual space for debate.