Tag Archive: Setting the Agenda


“Donald Trump is like a vampire; he never sleeps.” – Bill O’Reilly

To be accurate he does sleep a tad, and nocturnally he tweets a ton to 40.6 million-plus recipients.

During a late-1980s visit of Almost DailyBrett to Sardine City (a.k.a. The White House Press Briefing Room), there were wire-service reporters, who drew the short straws, and were assigned to Presidential “Death Watch.”

Translated these graveyard-shift members of the Fourth Estate were expected to be poised and ready to report, if the president passed away in his sleep. Fortunately, the media was never required to write/broadcast about a president expiring in the White House living quarters.

It was quite simply one of the most boring jobs on the planet … until 10 months ago.

The “Death Watch” reporter now has to be glued to her/his mobile device/laptop for the next 280-character-or-less epistle(s) from the Tweeter-in Chief @realDonaldTrump. In the last two years, his Twitter handle has generated 36,100 tweets, ranking the president at #22 worldwide, ironically one place in front of … The New York Times.

As it turns out the political class now needs to be aware of what Trump is tweeting at 3:20 am EDT, and there appears to be little if any advance warning for even his allies (e.g., Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) or objective/non-objective adversaries.

Trump has introduced widespread insomnia to the denizens of the Potomac, and also media/pundit types east of the Hudson. At the same time he has usurped the elite media’s role in setting the agenda for America’s national conversation.

It’s time to state the obvious:

Instead of the elite-media (i.e. NYT, WSJ, WaPo, Big Three nets) framing national issue discussions under Agenda Setting Theory, Trump has stolen this mantle through his frantic and many times undisciplined tweeting.

For better or worse, Trump is setting or preempting the agenda and the elite media doesn’t like it one little bit.

The First Social Media President?

“Think of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats or Ronald Reagan’s television addresses. More recently, presidents have used the internet to directly reach the public, making journalists increasingly irrelevant … “– Northeastern Associate Communication Studies Professor Greg Goodale

“Increasingly irrelevant”? Those are fightin’ words.

Considering that Twitter was founded only 11 years ago, it stands to reason that President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to dabble with tweeting. Having said that, did Obama’s tweets ever rise to the level of newsworthy stories, much less threatening elite-media Agenda Setting?

There is a new sheriff in town and part of the reason he is occupying the White House is directly linked to his provocative and disruptive tweets. Not only does Trump set the agenda, he can also shift, preempt and deflect the 24/7 news cycles with subjects of his choosing.

Some contended the elite-media’s cherished role in Agenda Setting would be eroded by widespread public participation in social media (e.g., 10.3 million tweeted during the first Obama vs. Romney debate in 2012).

Instead, research has demonstrated that reporters/correspondents/pundits use Twitter to silently collude with each during a 21st Century presidential debate. Instead of weakening Agenda Setting Theory, the media role in setting the agenda was actually enhanced through second-screen group think.

Whether the elite media should be charged with deciding what issues should be the subject of national conversation is debatable. What is not the subject of dispute is the fact that Twitter has become Trump’s most reliable bully pulpit.

Is Trump provocative in his tweets? Absolutely.

Has he interrupted the elite media setting of the national discussion? With relish.

Has Trump stepped on his own legislative/political agenda with his tweets? No question.

Has Trump in far too many cases to count been undisciplined in his use of Twitter, attacking both friends and foes? The case is closed.

Does the elite media absolutely grind their collective teeth and literally hate Trump’s Twitter use most of all? Is the Pope Catholic?

Will the 46th President of the United States use social media? Did FDR hold radio “Fireside Chats”? Did Kennedy and Reagan excel on television?

Social media tools are here to stay. As Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen coined, they are game-changing “destructive technologies.”

And similar to nuclear devices, Twitter is at the fingertips of one Donald John Trump.

http://news.northeastern.edu/2016/12/how-donald-trump-is-changing-presidential-communication/

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2017/08/07/

https://techofcomm.wordpress.com/tag/donald-trump/

https://twittercounter.com/realDonaldTrump

http://politics.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228637-e-46

Should we even be asking this question?

Deep down I wish we weren’t even discussing the personal opinions of reporters and editors, no matter how valid or repugnant; they should be irrelevant to the beats and the stories they are covering.

Isn’t it the duty of the media to report the news, not be the news?

If reporters or editors want to be news makers then they should run for public office, sing for a touring rock-and-roll band, dance on Broadway, play big-league ball…do things that warrant coverage…by someone else.

helenthomas

This may sound naïve, but I yearn for the notion of covering the news and not interpreting the news, and certainly not expressing personal opinions. Reporters interviewing reporters still has the same effect on me as someone taking their fingernails to a chalk board.

Helen Thomas of Hearst News Service has long been regarded as the dean of the Capitol Press Corps, and close to a legend to those who follow the Fourth Estate. She was always given the privilege of asking the first news conference question to the President of the United States.

However, her earlier question to the Leader of the Free World about “so-called terrorists” may have been one of the first clues about her true feelings (a daughter of Lebanese immigrants) about the Arab vs. Israeli conflict. Her most recent comments about getting the Jews “the hell out of Palestine” and sending them “home” to Germany and Poland ended her half-century-long career. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/07/AR2010060701493.html?wpisrc=nl_pmheadline

My purpose here is not to blast Thomas for un-arguably anti-Semitic remarks (there are plenty who will do just that), but to express concern about reporters and editors not being satisfied in just merely reporting the news.

Dan Rather is now an (largely) unemployed former anchor because he and his “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes embarked upon a 2004 campaign to discredit George W. Bush and remove him from office. Whether W. was a good president or not, worthy of re-election, was for the people to decide…I know this sounds quaint, but it is not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killian_documents_controversy

The trend has been toward “setting the agenda” for the nation to follow. Huh? I thought that was the president’s job and the leadership in Congress and the governor’s mansions…not the paper of record or the major networks.

Today is a sad day for American journalism. It is a day in which the White House ripped the comments of a reporter as “offensive and reprehensible.” Wonder how many reporters harbor similar views?

I hope we never find out.

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