Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Discussion recounts Trump’s tactics of propaganda during re-election

James Bartlett
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Londonderry, N.H..

A Feb. 24 Zoom discussion at Suffolk University examined the resilience of President Donald Trump’s unconventional way of politics and centered around the 2020 presidential election.

The event, titled “Democracy and Disinformation: An Analysis of Trump’s 2020 Reelection Campaign,” was hosted by Suffolk political science Associate Professor Brian Conley.

Conley said that Trump has a high resilience of deflection and survival of the public’s opinion, especially when it comes to violating the norms of politics. Some of his actions include demonizing his opponents, challenging democracy and spreading false claims.

The most important source of Trump’s success lies within the relationship between marketing and politics, also known as political marketing, said Conley. Conley explained that while marketing normally has its place in the private sector, it has been a popular and powerful weapon within politics for a long time.

Through political marketing campaigns, where candidates use means of communication to promote themselves and garner support, politicians don’t need to guess voters’ needs and preferences anymore. There is now data and analytics that can measure the voter’s values and preferences accurately, Conley said.

Since political marketing is essential for the leaders and political elites, they are in a position to manipulate information and mislead voters, according to Conley’s research.

During the Q&A of the event, Conley explained that within the past few years, the public has seen private corporations, such as Twitter and Facebook, dealing with the issue of First Amendment Right: protection from censorship. The country for a while now has been charged with a dilemma, “Can social media platforms have the right to censor what people post on their websites since they are private companies?”, said Conley.

The tricky part, as Conley said, is that “Private markets don’t have rights.”

Conley said the country has also been impacted by political marketing, since leaders use political marketing in their campaigns. Then when they get elected by the voters, they gain control of the people.

“Political marketing is a democracy that empowers leaders with institutional powers,” said Conley.

Additionally, there’s a concern about the method being too populistic or too mainstream. According to Conley’s research, political marketing could undermine a politician’s ability to lead, since they become too focused on pleasing one target voter.

Politicians use the media to mobilize voters and charge public opinion. Then the voters, or the public, go on to challenge officials who are currently in power.

In the case of Trump, he used social media and other forms of digital communication to spread false information that would be used by his supporters to demonize his opponents.

For example, on Sept. 12, Trump texted his supporters, “ANTIFA alert they’ll attack your homes if Joe’s elected.”

Conley connected Trump’s pattern of behaviors to the Propaganda Feedback Loop. In this loop, there are three parties involved: the media, the voters and the leaders. The media wants to deliver information in a competitive environment. Voters prefer a certain type of media and leaders, and don’t like people or outlets that diverge from their peers. Leaders also love sympathetic media outlets and punish those that are critical of them..

According to Conley’s research, the mainstream media does play a key role in competing for ideology over fact. An outlet such as Fox News has an audience that prefers ideology over facts, whether they realize it or not, and prefers the news to align with their perspective.

Conley said that many liberal media outlets attempt to copy what Fox News creator Rogers Gunn did, but fail because their audiences prefer the ideology of the news rather than the facts. Gunn created Fox News based on the premise that conservatives were not satisfied with the news they received from the mainstream media. So, Fox News only targets and markets to conservatives.

In Conley’s expert opinion, Trump’s campaign was successful because he and his team effectively used political marketing to amplify voters’ fear. He spread his propaganda by spreading disinformation to less politically-influential people or groups so they could have more power.

“You can become popular if Trump mentioned you,” said Conley.

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About the Contributors
Thomas Pholnikorn, Staff Writer | he/him
Thomas is currently a junior from Thailand. In his free time, he ventures into the realm of endless possibilities and imagination. Ultimately, there are three things he is searching for: shapeless love, certain kindness, and never fading hope.
James Bartlett, Multimedia Editor | he/him
James Bartlett is a senior studying print and web journalism. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, James has a strong interest in photojournalism and new journalism tools such as podcasting and user-generated content. James is currently a Web Journalist at WHDH Channel 7 and has previously worked at and the Newburpoty Daily News. Follow James on Twitter @James_bartlett8 Email him at [email protected]

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    jayasekharan komerathDec 4, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    Trump has shown that he lacks basics intelligence and common sense.The trouble is that 10% of people fall for it,and beleiv es him completely-but his latest caper that the constitution sho should concincduld be suspended so that he can be president again,
    should convince even the most harnosed trumpists that he is indeed as moron

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Discussion recounts Trump’s tactics of propaganda during re-election